IG dings Energy for insufficient drug testing

The Department of Energy is not drug-testing employees as it should, according to the department’s inspector general.

The Department of Energy is not drug-testing employees as it should, according to the department’s inspector general.

In a recent audit report, the IG said it had identified deficiencies in DOE's substance abuse testing program, such as not meeting the annual 30% random drug testing rate for federal employees in testing designated positions (TDPs) – those who hold security clearances or positions in public health and safety, law enforcement or who are presidential appointees. Additionally IG found that random drug testing was not always conducted, and it also identified issues related to documentation, annual reporting and training.

The department’s program manager did not verify that employees selected for testing were actually tested and did not maintain records of employees selected for testing, according to the audit. At the Los Alamos National Lab, for example, federal TDP employees had not been tested in over four years. During a one-year period, randomly selected National Nuclear Security Administration employees at the Savannah River site also had not been tested.

Inadequate record-keeping made it difficult to determine the severity of the problems, the IG said. Rosters in the TDP database were not always complete and up to date, discrepancies were found between test billing records and the number of tests DOE said it performed and supervisors and managers were not always trained, as required, the IG said.

“Without effectively and consistently implementing a robust substance abuse testing program, the Department cannot be assured that it is providing a drug-free workplace,” the report concluded. “The possible use of illegal drugs, on- or off-duty, by Federal employees in certain positions potentially prevents the complete reliability, stability, and good judgment that is consistent with access to sensitive information.”

The IG recommended DOE’s human capital officers test those selected for random drug testing and provide feedback to substance abuse managers, who must maintain accurate and complete records. The department should also maintain an updated list of local substance abuse program coordinators who understand their responsibilities to provide training for supervisors and periodically update TDP data.

DOE management concurred with the report’s recommendations.

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