Slow start to weatherization programs: Not just Texas

On Tuesday the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General added to the recent parade of commentary regarding the slow start of the Weatherization Assistance Program, pointing out that as of December, nationally only about 5% of the total housing units scheduled to be eventually weatherized had been completed.

As previously commented on Texas Housers, we’d rather the Texas program do weatherization right than do it quick.  Nevertheless, the situation has become a bit of a game of pointing fingers for the delay, with the department pointing out that the Department of Labor didn’t finalize the Davis-Bacon wages until the end of December, adding uncertainty and damping production before that date.   The OIG points out that states were authorized to proceed prior to the Davis-Bacon determination, but many chose not to.

Regardless of the cause of the delay, the department claims to now be up to speed, telling the Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding earlier this month that 2,500 homes were currently in process and posting a production schedule it says will get the funding out the door.

We have some doubts about the ability of some sub-recipients to keep to the aggressive production schedule, but are waiting to see the initial progress data before we start pointing fingers.  Now that the households are in the pipeline, we should have data soon.

TDHCA is currently developing rules to ensure sub-recipients hit the spending milestones needed to prevent the money being shifted to other states– we look forward to commenting on the draft rules when they are released.   One difficult but important issue will be to ensure that the funds remain in the regions to which they are originally allocated–it’s not useful to punish the eligible recipients in an area if TDHCA’s first contractor in an area didn’t run a tight ship.

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