Department of Energy IG: Recovery Act “has strained existing resources” at the Department

The Inspector General at the Department of Energy[1] released a report Monday warning that the Recovery Act energy funding “represents a massive workload increase for the Department’s programs” and noting that “the effort to date has strained existing resources” at the department.

The Department of Energy is administering $32.7 Billion of the Recovery Act, including $5.0 billion allocated to the Weatherization Assistance Program.  The report states particular challenges face the Weatherization Program, as “based on monitoring reports and past experience, certain Weatherization grantees may not have adequate internal controls, reducing the likelihood of preventing or detecting fraud, waste, or abuse.”

The report also notes that the division administering the Weatherization Program (the “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy” or EERE division)has only hired half the the 288 positions authorized in the Recovery Act and that EERE identified staffing as “its most significant risk to the successful implementation of Recovery Act activities.”

The report makes several recommendations to improve oversight of the Recovery Act programs, including focusing management attention on hiring for recovery act oversight positions and incorporating the financial disbursement system used by the Treasury Department to control draw-downs of the Recovery Act funds by subcontractors.

This report focuses on the federal administration of the Weatherization Assitence Program, but it is our belief that similar concerns and recommendation apply to the sub-administration of the program at the state level.  In Texas, the Weatherization Assistance Program is administered by TDHCA.

Note:
[1] Inspector Generals  are independant investigators authorized under the Inspector General Act of 1978.  There are now Offices of Inspector Generals at 69 federal agencies.  The Department of Energy IG “promotes the effective, efficient, and economical operation of the Department of Energy’s programs and operations through audits, inspections, investigations, and other reviews.

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