July 18, 2013

Costs Incurred by Selected Tribal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Recipients

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Department of Energy's (Department) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program received $3.2 billion to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions.  The Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy allocated about $2.7 billion of the funds using a population-driven formula to over 2,000 entities including states and territories, cities and counties, and Native American tribes.  The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), the Cherokee Nation, Muscogee Creek Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and Chickasaw Nation received the largest tribal EECBG grants, which totaled $13.9 million and represented approximately 25 percent of the total EECBG funds awarded to Native American tribes.  As of December 31, 2012, approximately $12 million of these funds had been expended by the five recipients. 

Our review identified $518,994 in questionable costs reimbursed by the Department to two of the five largest tribal recipients of EECBG funds.  For instance, NTUA did not follow applicable Federal regulations or have adequate support related to allocability and allowability for $517,794 in costs reimbursed by the Department for consulting, legal and administrative costs.  The majority of questioned costs occurred because NTUA failed to follow its own policies and procedures related to procurement of services, to adequately review legal expenditures charged to the grant prior to seeking reimbursement, and to adhere to Federal regulations requiring the adequate support of allowable administrative charges. 

Department officials concurred with the findings and recommendations and had been working with the tribal recipients to ensure all corrective actions were implemented.  The Department's corrective actions are responsive to our recommendations. 

TOPIC: Financial Assistance