November 25, 2013

The Department of Energy's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program – District of Columbia

The Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program received about $3.2 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to help state and local entities develop, implement and manage energy efficiency and conservation projects.  Of the funding provided, more than $2.7 billion was distributed to over 2,000 entities using a population-driven formula.  The Department allocated about $9.6 million in December 2009 to the District of Columbia government through the District Department of the Environment (DDOE).  DDOE selected four District of Columbia government agencies and six non-profit community-based organizations (CBOs) to assist in completing retrofits. 

We identified multiple weaknesses that led us to question the sufficiency of DDOE's controls over EECBG funding to CBOs.  For example, our audit revealed that DDOE had awarded $630,000 to two CBOs that lacked adequate experience in the area of energy efficiency retrofits, and had advanced over $160,000 to three CBOs without assigning corresponding work.  In contrast, nothing came to our attention to indicate that the work performed by the District of Columbia government entities was not appropriately completed.  

We found that the issues identified occurred, primarily, because of an ineffective control environment within DDOE.  These issues were not transparent to the Department because DDOE is a government entity, and consistent with existing practices, was not required to provide detailed documentation supporting its EECBG expenditures.  Therefore, Department officials may not have had the information necessary to identify these issues and take appropriate action.  The Department agreed with our recommendations and stated that it was working with DDOE to ensure that all corrective actions were implemented.

Topic: Financial Assistance