Audit: TVA execs spent $1.8 million on travel expenses

An attorney is asking the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review the Tennessee Valley Authority’s new whistleblowing program before it’s implemented./ Source: WVLT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WVLT) -- An audit has found instances where executives for the nation's largest public utility overspent on travel.

The inspector general's report released Wednesday states Tennessee Valley Authority executives spent about $1.8 million on travel expenses from October 2016 through July 2018.

The report cites instances where executives didn't comply with federal travel regulations and TVA policies, including: overpaid per diems, excessive meal costs while traveling, use of car services instead of less expensive options, foreign travel and lodging expenses that did not comply with policies, lodging issues and travel costs unreported to the utility's board.

According to the report, executives spent $1,157 at a restaurant in Washington D.C. The report also stated that the "TVA incurred $348,498 in ground transportation costs for executives during our audit period." The report said $46,232 of that were for payments to "car service" companies.

The report stated that executives also spent money on international flights with "costs totaling $64,653." Eight of the flights "were not in accordance with the FTR and/or TVA's Travel Policy."

The report stated that the former CEO took five first class flights with costs totaling $31,277 to Tokyo, Stockholm, Paris and London.

The report said, "The justification given for the first class accommodations was a medical disability. The FTR requires a written statement by a competent medical authority stating that special accommodation is necessary. The written statement we were provided ... was dated after the five first class flights occurred. The former CEO informed us there was an earlier authorization, but it was lost and the medical practitioner that issued it was deceased so he could not get a copy."

The audit says the actions could send TVA employees a message that management isn't committed to federal and agency policies.

TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash, who started in April, said the utility is clarifying policies and will better follow those that are clear.

Lyash said the audit "shows that we need to be more rigourous and disciplined in our record keeping so we can demonstrate that we are operating to the highest standards."

Read the full report here.

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