- Associated Press - Thursday, March 29, 2018

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The $17.7 million the Tennessee Valley Authority spent on two corporate planes was not justified, an internal audit said.

The TVA Office of the Inspector General has found TVA’s reasons for buying an $11.2 million jet and a $6.4 million turboprop did not justify the purchases, news outlets reported Thursday. The U.S. government-owned electricity corporation may have also violated federal code in improper justifications for its aircraft use, according to the audit.

TVA’s contract approval for the jet and turboprop said it needed planes with newer technology. However, the audit said TVA did not provide documentation of any cost, safety, reliability or time efficiency comparisons prior to the purchases.

“We believe we made a good purchase but we don’t believe the written justification on that purchase was as good as it needed to be,” Mike Skaggs, TVA executive vice president for operations, said.

The audit said TVA may have violated federal code for failing to provide written pre-authorizations for business flights. Another possible violation was TVA’s justifications for 13 days of travel that appeared to be for the personal preference and convenience of Bill Johnson, its president and CEO.

There were 18 flights to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina from August 2015 to December 2017, Federal Aviation Administration records said. They included stops in Raleigh, where Johnson’s house is and where his wife lives.

Skaggs said he did not believe TVA was in noncompliance of federal codes, but management has learned from the audit that its flight justification procedure needed to be more detailed.

TVA’s website says it serves 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states and receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all its revenue from electricity sales.

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