“Despite the department’s ethics program and information regarding prohibited personnel practices, advocating for the selection of relatives appears to have become an open and widely accepted departmental practice,” Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman wrote.

The audit stemmed from a complaint about internships awarded during fiscal 2012 to three children of a senior career official in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office.

The unnamed official contacted 12 other department officials on behalf of the college-age children, including a high-level personnel officer, and two were hired in his office.