Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Recent Audit of Weatherization Assistance Program shows severe lack of controls--- Program should be eliminated

Like nearly every other government program…once begun, they never go away, always grow, and become vehicles to redistribute wealth, (Robin Hood style) forcibly taking from those that have…and giving to those who don’t.  Such programs begin by "compassionate" legislators…and with no thought as confining their efforts only to the enumerated powers of the U.S. Congress.  The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a case in point.   

Following the 1973 oil crisis and rising utility bills, Congress initiated the WAP to install insulation, seal around doors and windows and modernize heating equipment.  In 1992, Colorado took on this federal program as a funding partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy (providing a non-enumerated function) the Colorado Low Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) (a Federal Program not enumerated in the Constitution) and the Public Service Co. of CO (now Xcel Energy).

As part of the $1.6Billion in Federal Recovery Act funds received by Colorado, $79.5 million must rapidly be “spent” to weatherize large numbers of homes within a short 33-month period beginning June 15, 2009.   Prior to this large influx of Federal funds, the program focused on emergency and temporary measures, such as covering windows with plastic sheets and  caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows.  Today, the program requires every home “served” (the state, as you know is now a “service agency”) under the program to determine which energy conservation measures will be most cost-effective before weatherization services are provided.  Furthermore, instead of the previous not-to-exceed expense dwelling of $3,000, the new federal regulations allow up to $6,600/dwelling and substantially increase the income threshold for residents to qualify.

The Audit pointed out lack of accountability by the Governor Ritter’s Energy Office in administering the program, “for free” to over 8,000 homes since 2009, among which were:
  • ·        Noncompetitive procurement
  • ·        Rejection of bidders before holding required public hearings
  • ·        Inconsistency in scoring competitive bids
  • ·        Lack of procurement documentation
  • ·        Failure to hold agencies throughout the state accountable for administering the program
  • ·        Inadequate monitoring of work to ensure it was even performed.
  • ·        Poor accounting for cash advances to agencies performing work
  • ·        Performing work on properties where landlord does not qualify.
  • ·        Reports to Federal Energy Office submitted w/o Director’s approval. As required.
  • ·        No definition as to what types of costs are administrative or program operations.
  • ·        No assurance was given that we are not providing services to those illegally in the U.S. or performing some weatherization work by illegal aliens.

Other questions we should be asking:
  • ·        Why does the state’s Energy Office take such a cavalier attitude towards dispensing with hard-earned tax dollars?
  • ·        Why does the state’s Energy Office indicate the service is “free” when it is really taxpayer-subsidized?
  • ·        Why do we perpetuate the idea that one-time money will create lasting jobs?
  • ·        Why does the state continue usurping the role of family, friends, religious institutions and charities by providing taxpayer-subsidized help to those in need?
  • ·        Why does the state continue allowing the Federal Government to fund such a program for Colorado? 

This program should be immediately considered for elimination by the U.S. Congress.