Energy & Environment

GOP probes ex-DOE official’s new job

House Republicans are investigating the hiring of a former Department of Energy (DOE) official as president of a company that has received substantial support from the department.

Dan Poneman became the head of Centrus Corp. in March, five months after stepping down as deputy secretary at the DOE, its No. 2 position.

{mosads}The move has attracted the attention of House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), chairwoman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the DOE.

Centrus, formerly the United States Enrichment Corp., has received hundreds of millions of dollars of DOE support for its uranium enrichment activities for the nuclear power sector, some of it while Poneman was at the agency.

Poneman’s DOE work that helped Centrus “raises questions about whether he complied with ethics guidelines and federal conflict of interest laws that cover government employees who are seeking private employment,” the lawmakers wrote in letters sent Tuesday to the DOE and Centrus.

Centrus defended Poneman and his hiring.

“At no time during his employment with the Department of Energy did anyone affiliated with Centrus contact Mr. Poneman to discuss future employment opportunities,” said Jeremy Derryberry, a spokesman for the company.

“At all times, Mr. Poneman and the company have fully complied with all applicable post-employment restrictions and government ethics requirements and will continue to do so in the future,” he added.

Chaffetz and Lummis wrote that they are concerned that Poneman may have violated post-employment laws for federal employees, as well as requirements that top officials disclose when they are seeking outside jobs and recuse themselves from matters related to those companies.

They asked both the agency and the company to give them any communications that Poneman had with Centrus employees during his time at the DOE.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Policy Committee, has also sounded an alarm about Poneman’s hiring.

He wrote a letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz saying that the move “epitomizes the inappropriate and legally questionable relationship that DOE has had with this private company.” 

Tags Dan Poneman Department of Energy House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz

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