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Contributed photo / Ben Wagner

More than four years after the previous Inspector General at the Tennessee Valley Authority left the job to become a federal prosecutor, President Biden has nominated a replacement to fill the oversight role at America's biggest public utility.

Ben Wagner, an investigator and auditor in TVA's Office of Inspector General for the past 31 years before his retirement in 2017, was picked by the White House to lead the inspector's office at TVA. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Wagner will fill the lead role at the Office of Inspector General that has been vacant since Richard W. Moore left the job in September 2017 to become the U.S. attorney in southern Alabama.

The top IG job at TVA was initially appointed by the TVA board, but the position became an appointment of the president in 2000 when then-President Bill Clinton signed into law a bill making TVA's Inspector General a presidentially appointed position to give the oversight agency more autonomy from the agency it oversees. Moore was the first presidentially appointed Inspector General at TVA and served in that role for over 14 years before joining the Department of Justice.

Wagner will be only the second presidentially appointed IG, if he is confirmed. The job has been filled by interim leaders for the past four years.

Wagner is an accounting graduate from the University of Tennesee who worked in TVA's nuclear power program and other staff and management jobs at TVA for seven years before joining TVA's Office of Inspector General shortly after its creation by Congress in 1985. Prior to his retirement four years ago, Wagner served in several senior executive positions in the TVA Office of Inspector General, including the role of senior advisor of stakeholder relations and deputy inspector general where he led the audits, evaluations, investigations, and administrative functions.

In its announcement of the nomination Wednesday, the White House said Wagner has extensive experience in developing and managing a comprehensive risk-based auditing program. He has provided leadership in the areas of enterprise-wide risk management, fraud risk assessments, ethics and compliance, and organizational effectiveness assessments. During his career, Wagner supported Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency initiatives and programs.

While born in New Mexico, Wagner has resided in the Tennessee Valley region for the majority of his life.

Over the past three decades, TVA's Office of Inspector General says it has identified nearly $2.4 billion of cost savings and recovered or saved another $1.05 billion from fraud, wastes or inefficiencies at TVA.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6340.

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