Thompson Statement on GAO Report on TVA Center for Rural Studies

WASHINGTON ? U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) today issued the following statement regarding the release of the General Accounting Office report entitled, “Tennessee Valley Authority: Problems With Irrevocable Trust Raise Need for Additional Oversight.”

“Congress and the Governmental Affairs Committee have oversight responsibility with regard to TVA and its Board of Directors, who are confirmed by the United States Senate.

“During the recent GAO investigation with regard to the dispute involving Inspector General Prosser, certain matters came to the attention of the GAO with regard to the so-called Center for Rural Studies (CRS) which I felt needed further investigation. Therefore, I asked the GAO to follow up. The report released today provides disturbing new insights as to the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the CRS and the way the investigation of it was handled. However, the report still leaves certain questions unresolved and it is the intention of this Committee to look into the matter further.

“I can say at this stage that I completely concur with GAO?s conclusion that there is a need for better oversight of TVA?s activities. TVA is a quasi-governmental body that expends ratepayer money and, during the time of these events, taxpayer money. The TVA Board is accountable to Congress and to the public, and its activities must be subject to openness and public scrutiny. This has not been the case with regard to the CRS matter. A decision not to prosecute criminally, even if made properly, does not absolve Congress of its oversight responsibility and the need for public disclosure.

“In addition to pursuing the remaining unresolved questions, I am hopeful that the House will promptly take up the bill which has passed the Senate making the TVA Inspector General presidentially appointed rather than hired and fired by the TVA Board. Furthermore, I believe the time has come to take up Senator Frist?s bill to reorganize the TVA management structure.

It is with great regret that we have to take up these matters in the current environment as Congress considers deregulation of the electrical power market and other issues vitally important to the ratepayers of the Tennessee Valley. Nevertheless, it does not change our responsibility to conduct proper oversight of TVA. We from the TVA area have a special responsibility to make sure that things are done properly at TVA. If we do so, then that will be our greatest strength in the long run.”

A copy of the GAO report is attached.