IG looks at Poneman’s ‘premium class’ travel arrangements; justified for security reasons

poneman.jpgA special inquiry into allegations that Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman wasted money using premium class (first or business class) travel arrangements while traveling internationally did not substantiate those claims. The Office of Inspector General report, however, did find an administrative issue with the way DOE’s Office of Special Operations documented the security needs for those arrangements, and other issues identified in the complaint are reportedly still being processed.
The IG did not find evidence that the deputy secretary acted improperly. The investigation confirmed that the Office of Special Operations authorized the use of premium travel for Poneman and accompanying special agents from OSO based on security needs. Federal Travel Regulations permit agencies to authorize premium class travel for “exceptional security circumstances” if the use of coach-class accommodations would endanger the individual’s life or government property, and that exception also extends to special agents traveling with the authorized individual.


Poneman isn’t named by name in the report, but referenced by his title.
Officials with the Office of Special Operations told the IG their determination on the security needs for the travel arrangements was not influenced or pressured by anyone.
“We confirmed that the June 2009 memorandum referenced a security determination and also noted that the rationale for the determination was to provide a safer environment and to prevent unauthorized access to the Deputy Secretary while traveling internationally for official business,” the report said.
The report said the deputy secretary took 24 international trips using premium class in Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012.
The IG said that while the Office of Special Operations was able to describe the reason for authorizing premium class travel, officials were not able to furnish documentation to support security determination.
Photo credit: Bill Clark/special to the News Sentinel

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.