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Special Report: OAS-RA-14-01

October 31, 2013

Recent Events Related to Ecotality, Inc.

In our audit of the funding to Ecotality, The Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Program's $135 Million in Funding to Ecotality, Inc. (OAS-RA-13-29, July 2013), we found that the Department's management and administration of Ecotality's awards could have been improved.  We initiated this review to determine whether the Department was aware of, and had disclosed to the Office of Inspector General, pertinent events that occurred prior to the completion of our previous audit related to Ecotality's ability to meet its obligations.  We also sought to determine whether the Department was effectively managing Ecotality's awards in light of recent events.

We found that the Department had not fully disclosed known concerns regarding Ecotality's ability to meet its electric vehicle project obligations to the Office of Inspector General prior to completion of our previous audit.  Information that raised questions about Ecotality's ability to meet its project goals, including completing planned EV charger installations and the collection of electric vehicle usage data, was not provided even though the data had a readily apparent connection to our in-process audit. 

Program officials asserted that the failure to disclose the information regarding Ecotality's difficulties was unintended.  Nothing came to our attention to the contrary; however, we are deeply concerned because the information directly related to the objective of our audit.  While the Department moved swiftly to suspend funding of Ecotality's Recovery Act award, it had not taken similar action for the remaining ongoing Ecotality project.  Notably, the Department had not suspended payments under Ecotality's 2011, $26 million award to test electric vehicles.  Management concurred with our recommendations and indicated that it had completed or initiated certain corrective actions. 

Topic:  Management & Administration