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Suspended BPA Officer Testifies In Hiring Scandal

Bonneville Power Administration

The plot thickened Thursday in the hiring scandal that's enveloped the Bonneville Power Administration. One of the two top executives who was suspended last month told her side of story in public for the first time. 

BPA Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker testified reluctantly but voluntarily to the U.S. House Oversight Committee.

At the witness table, she sat right next to the Department of Energy's inspector general. It's his ongoing investigation into alleged bias against veterans and whistleblower retaliation at the electricity wholesaler that caused Decker and her boss to be placed on leave.

Decker denies her human resources staff deliberately discriminated in trying to cut applicant pools to a more manageable size. The process short circuited a federal hiring preference for veterans.

"In regard to veterans, we made a regrettable mistake," Decker said. "We stopped making that mistake over a year ago. I want to be part of making this right."

The inspector general says auditors are now trying to identify applicants who suffered harm and whether they can be offered other job opportunities.

Decker also says the cases of potential whistleblower retaliation are complicated by what she describes as shortcomings in job performance. 

Web extras:

U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee:

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.