TVA Continues Suspension of Maintain & Gain Program Board to Receive Recommendation for Termination
June 8, 2009
Based on the findings of a TVA Inspector General review, TVA will continue its current suspension of the Maintain & Gain Lakeshore Management Program. The program was suspended in December. TVA staff will ask the TVA Board to formally terminate the program at its next meeting.
The maintain and gain program is a land management program under TVA’s Shoreline Management Policy. It is designed to allow the consideration of proposals from landowners who request to obtain lake access rights at their properties by swapping access rights at other properties where they may have partial or full ownership. The program requires that transactions result in no net loss, and preferably, a net gain of public shoreline.
The Inspector General’s office reviewed nine maintain and gain transactions completed since the plan was created in 1999 to determine if the plan was being administered in a consistent manner and avoided any preferential treatment for applicants.
The IG found that TVA employees worked “in an apparent good faith effort” to hold all maintain and gain applications to certain standards.
However, the IG concluded that TVA administered the program in an inconsistent manner among the nine cases, resulting in actions and decisions that give the appearance of preferential treatment.
“In addition to recommending that the program be terminated, TVA is establishing a clearly defined protocol, which creates a procedure for identifying inherent conflicts of interest by those applying for any TVA benefit,” TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore said.
Kilgore said that the TVA Board is aware of the development of the protocol and has been informed that steps will be taken soon to implement the policy across TVA. He said the “Obtaining Things of Value from TVA Protocol” will provide a process to determine that appropriate standards are applied and correct procedures are followed in the processing of all applications.
“No matter who makes the request when something of value is being sought from TVA, the decision-making process needs to be fair, impartial, transparent, and even-handed, both in fact and in appearance,” Kilgore said.
In response to the IG report, TVA also said that if it determines in the future a program is needed for water access rights, any such program would be designed to operate in an objective and transparent manner with clear policies for addressing potential conflicts of interest.
TVA will emphasize the new protocol as part of its rigorous ethics training, which each of TVA’s 11,700 employees must take annually. TVA will work with the IG in the protocol’s implementation.
The IG report states the need for federal agencies in general to have protocols in place to identify and manage conflicts of interest. “With the adoption of this protocol, TVA hopes to be among the first in the federal government to address this challenge and remove any appearance of impropriety,” Kilgore said.
TVA is the nation’s largest public power provider and is completely self-financing. TVA provides power to large industries and 158 power distributors that serve approximately 9 million consumers in seven southeastern states. TVA also manages the Tennessee River and its tributaries to provide multiple benefits, including flood damage reduction, navigation, water quality and recreation.
John Moulton, Knoxville, (865) 632-8048
TVA News Bureau, Knoxville, (865) 632-6000