The Interior Department’s inspector general has found that a manager at the agency’s independent safety and environmental regulator improperly influenced a competitive bidding process and inflated government cost estimates.
The manager at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) allegedly inflated an "independent government cost estimate." The process determines the costs of particular items and services, which could run the gamut from office supplies to inspector equipment. BSEE regulates offshore activities.
In addition, the report found that the manager, who wasn’t named, directed staff to increase the cost estimates in order to meet preset budgets, "which contradicts the objective and independent nature of an IGCE."
"We found that the BSEE manager and her supervisor mishandled source selection information by altering source selection reports, which are used to prioritize vendor ratings, and by influencing source selection committee members to change their vendor recommendations," the IG summary report reads.
Further details were not made public. It is unclear if the transgressions are illegal, or if the Oct. 19 report (released yesterday) was referred to the Department of Justice.
A BSEE spokesperson said in an email that the department "takes all allegations seriously and is cooperating with the OIG on the investigation findings."
The IG’s office added that the manager in question released confidential information given to government buyers that was not supposed to be widely shared. And the IG cast blame on the manager’s supervisor, who was also not supposed to see the confidential information.
In a separate summary report, the IG looked into allegations that an employee regularly made negative comments about colleagues and managers to the point where others found the conduct hostile. It is unclear what the conduct was or if the employee is still employed at the agency.