A U.S. Department of Energy Inspector General’s report released July 2 has found “no evidence” that DOE employees inappropriately accepted meals or tickets to a Major League Baseball game purchased by the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (RCLC). The report also states that a separate inspection is underway over RCLC’s use of grant funds.
The RCLC is a consortium of nine northern New Mexico communities that advocates for jobs and federal environmental cleanup funding at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The coalition is comprised of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos counties, the cities of Española and Santa Fe, the town of Taos and the pueblos of Jemez and Ohkay Owingeh that in total provide the RCLC with $109,000 in funding.
RCLC Executive Director Eric Vasquez was hired after financial issues arose and said he is glad the investigation is moving forward so the RCLC can get back to the business of representing its communities.
Department of Energy Inspector General’s report:
July 2, 2019
The mission of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (Environmental Management) is to address the Nation’s Cold War environmental legacy resulting from five decades of nuclear weapons production and Government-sponsored nuclear energy research. Within Environmental Management, the Los Alamos Field Office is tasked to safely and efficiently complete the cleanup of legacy contamination and waste resulting from nuclear weapons development and research at Los Alamos National Laboratory. To help accomplish its cleanup mission, Environmental Management issues grants to non-Federal entities.
Environmental Management’s Consolidated Business Center is responsible for awarding and overseeing Environmental Management grants. On September 30, 2015, Environmental Management’s Consolidated Business Center awarded the Regional Coalition of LANL [Los Alamos National Laboratory] Communities (RCLC) a 5-year, $500,000 grant. Environmental Management’s Consolidated Business Center provided grant funds to RCLC to promote environmental protection, economic development, and regional planning, and to allow RCLC to evaluate policy initiatives and legislative impacts on its members.
The Office of Inspector General received a Hotline complaint concerning alleged ethics violations by multiple Department employees, including three specific Department officials. The complaint stated that Department employees misused their positions by inappropriately accepting meals and by attending a sporting event with tickets purchased by RCLC, a Department grant recipient. We initiated this inspection to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations.
We found no evidence to substantiate the allegations that Department employees inappropriately accepted meals and sporting event tickets purchased by RCLC. Because the allegations were not substantiated, we made no recommendations or suggested actions. However, when reviewing the RCLC grant funding information provided by the Department, we did identify potential concerns regarding the Department’s oversight and management of the grant awarded to RCLC. A separate inspection is in process to assess the use of grant funds by RCLC.