The Department of Energy's (Department) Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) develops and executes Department-wide policies affecting equal employment opportunities, small and disadvantaged businesses, minority educational institutions, and historically under-represented communities. ED's mission is to develop and implement initiatives designed to ensure that minorities are afforded an opportunity to fully participate in Department programs.
The Office of Inspector General received a complaint alleging that ED had engaged in wasteful spending, including: (1) the approval of a $40,000 construction project to expand a senior official's office space even though a large vacant office existed; (2) the purchase of Liquid Crystal Display Televisions (LCD TVs) for select ED officials to reflect a higher status; (3) the purchase of iPads for senior ED officials to reflect a higher status; (4) a $50,000 pool of "fun money" to "shower someone with a good idea;" and, (5) the use of high-cost limousine services while on travel. We initiated this inspection to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations.
We were unable to substantiate the allegations that the actions taken by ED management were inappropriate. While we did determine that a senior official approved the reconfiguration of ED office spaces, the construction project did not appear to be unreasonable or excessively costly. We did, however, identify procedural issues that could, if not addressed, increase the risk that projects could begin and be completed even though funding had not actually been authorized. Based on the results of our review, we made suggested actions to management.