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Commentaries and editorials

Investigation Finds No Evidence of Ongoing
Retaliation Against Whistleblower at Bonneville

by Ted Sickinger
The Oregonian, May 20, 2014

An investigative report released this week dismissed allegations by an employee in Bonneville Power Administration's human resources office that his supervisor had engaged in a pattern of ongoing retaliation against him in the wake of the power marketing agency's hiring scandal.

The Department of Energy's Inspector General's office found that the charges were not substantiated, and that "Bonneville's senior management actively monitored the relationship between the staffer and his supervisor and took steps that, in our view, prevented even the appearance that an adverse personnel action was being taken against the staffer."

The investigation was opened after a request in December by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who was chairing the Senate Energy Committee at the time the allegations were made by the staffer.

"The Inspector General deserves credit for swiftly investigating the allegations received by my office," Wyden said in a written statement. "I am satisfied by their findings that additional retaliation did not occur in this case, but will continue to watch Bonneville closely to ensure the agency makes things right for veterans who were victims of illegal discrimination."

The employee had alleged that after returning from a leave of absence, his supervisor relocated him as far from his own office as possible and gave him no assignments over a three-month period while his counterparts in the office were overworked. He also said the supervisor tried to transfer him to another department and gave him an "unacceptable" work rating for 2013.

The IG's investigation concluded that the staffer's relocation was justified and that he had been given meaningful work assignments. It said there was no evidence of an unacceptable rating.

At the same time, the investigation found evidence that the supervisor had lost trust in the staffer's abilities based on allegedly incorrect policy advice given by the staffer that he felt contributed to Bonneville's veterans' preference hiring problems and because of other administrative issues. The investigation also found that the supervisor had intended to reassign some of the staffer's duties, and that he had encouraged the staffer to seek other job opportunities outside his work group.

But it said "the evidence did not support a finding that the events were based on the supervisor's intent to retaliate for disclosures of information to any party and/or cooperation with the OIG."

Ted Sickinger
Investigation Finds No Evidence of Ongoing Retaliation Against Whistleblower at Bonneville
The Oregonian, May 20, 2014

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