January 30, 2015
Review of Controls for Protecting Nonpublic Information at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission), an independent agency within the Department of Energy (Department), regulates, in part, the reliability of the Nation's bulk electric grid. In February 2014, sensitive internal information regarding the electric grid analysis was mentioned by national media and attributed in the press to a former Commission Chairman. Commission staff described the information as highly sensitive, nonpublic, unclassified information, noting that improper disclosure could have significant national energy implications. Because of the potential for harm associated with the publication of such information, the current and former Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Commission's Designated Agency Ethics Official requested that the Office of Inspector General review the facts and circumstances surrounding the disclosure of the nonpublic information.
Our review revealed that the Commission's controls, processes, and procedures for protecting nonpublic information were severely lacking. Specifically, we found that staff inconsistently handled and shared Commission-created analyses that identified vulnerability of the Nation's electric grid without ensuring that the data was adequately evaluated for sensitivity and classification.
Topic: Management & Administration