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Audit Report: OAS-RA-13-31

September 27, 2013

The Department of Energy's Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program

The Department of Energy spent approximately $1 billion over the last 5 years on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program activities implemented through various projects at Federal laboratories, universities, non-profit institutions, Government agencies and industry participants.  The Department also provided an additional $42 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funding to accelerate the commercialization and deployment of fuel cells. 

We found the Department had not always effectively managed the financial aspects of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program.  For instance, we found that the Department approved and reimbursed unsupported and/or unallowable costs at 9 of the 10 recipients included in our review.  Further, the Department had not ensured that recipient procurement practices were adequate to fully protect the Government's interests and complied with applicable policies, procedures and best practices. 

The issues we identified occurred, in part, because program officials had not always provided effective monitoring and oversight and/or adequate guidance to ensure that required financial and accounting policies and procedures had been properly adhered to on a consistent basis.  The lack of attention to financial monitoring of recipients increased the risk that questionable and/or unallowable costs would be charged to the Department and reduce the amount of funds available to complete projects.  Accordingly, we questioned more than $6.7 million in reimbursements to Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program recipients included in our review.  Management concurred with our recommendations and indicated that it had initiated and/or taken corrective actions to that are responsive to our recommendations. 

Topic: Management & Administration