The Department of Energy's office that is charged with collecting billions of dollars in oil overcharges plans to eliminate 217 jobs, including 173 enforcement employes, in September.
Rayburn Hanzlik, administrator of DOE's Economic Regulatory Administration, sent letters to employes and to the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday detailing the reductions in force that will occur.
"In keeping with my commitment to the president to administer the ERA programs as efficiently and economically as possible, I have thus determined that these programs can be properly administered next year with fewer personnel," Hanzlik wrote to employes.
Among other things, Hanzlik's department is in charge of auditing, investigating and litigating cases in which oil companies are accused of charging high prices that violated price control regulations imposed after the Arab oil embargo in 1973. Members of Congress and others have questioned in the past the Reagan administration's zeal in this effort.
In a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), Hanzlik detailed the work in the fiscal year ahead and DOE's assessment of the staff needed to handle it.
Hanzlik said that the department had taken into account several priorities, including "that adequate and qualified audit and investigative personnel currently assigned to the crude-oil reseller program and special investigations work be maintained to complete this work; that experienced attorneys be available to prepare enforcement documents for the unfinished cases and that the program maintain experienced attorneys to handle the litigation work."
A committee staff source said that Dingell's committee will examine the cutbacks closely to make sure they are warranted and that they do not eliminate experienced people needed to pursue overcharge cases successfully.
The committee already is seeking data on how resources are being applied, he said. "The chairman will closely scrutinize this entire area."