Auditing and Financial Management:
Department of Energy Audits of Retail Gasoline Station Prices in Chicago Area
EMD-80-62, Apr 3, 1980
A review was made of the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to audit the gasoline prices of retail stations in the Chicago area. The DOE Office of Enforcement in the Economic Regulatory Administration (ERA) audits gasoline retailers based on complaints or other evidence of violations. DOE regulations provide for rollback of prices, recovery of overcharges, and levying of fines against retailers who violate gasoline pricing regulations. Consent or interim orders brought against violators can provide for a refund of overcharges, with consent orders also providing for a fine.
During the period from April through December 1979, ERA data showed that, based upon complaints received, it completed 422 audits of Chicago's estimated 2,000 retailers and found that 149 were violating DOE gasoline pricing regulations. Since August 1979, almost 90 percent of the retail stations charged with violating price regulations signed consent orders acknowledging the violation and agreeing to immediately roll back prices to the maximum lawful selling price. The remainder of the stations were issued interim orders. In 1979, DOE collected fines totaling $10,225 from 49 of the Chicago retailers in violation. GAO could not determine the average cost to Chicago consumers of gasoline overpricing because the necessary ERA data were not available.