Uncertain Quality, Energy Savings, and Future Production Hamper the Weatherization Program

EMD-82-2: Published: Oct 26, 1981. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the need to improve the administration and effectiveness of the Department of Energy's (DOE) low-income weatherization assistance program. This program uses Federal funds to help low-income people improve the energy efficiency of their homes. GAO considered the program's effectiveness, energy savings, financial controls, and compliance monitoring.

The number of homes weatherized by the program has substantially increased since the last GAO review. However, at the current level of funding, it is unlikely that DOE can maintain the present level of production beyond 1981. Program effectiveness has been hampered by: (1) continued overstatement of the number of homes weatherized; (2) incomplete or inadequate weatherization of homes; and (3) a low emphasis on rental units, where over half of the low-income population resides. Further, the energy efficiency of many homes served by the program may not have been improved very much because the weatherization work in many homes GAO inspected was incomplete or inadequate. The extent to which the weatherization program is actually reducing energy costs and consumption in low-income homes still is not known by DOE or the States. DOE recently completed a study of energy savings, but the reliability of the study is questionable because of sampling and data problems. Deficiencies in the financial management and monitoring systems continue to exist at all levels. Many of the local agency systems did not meet Federal requirements, and most of the State offices did not have financial management and monitoring systems which could be relied on for identifying and correcting accounting, inventory, and financial status reporting problems at local agencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should revise the progress reporting system to ensure that DOE regional operations offices and the States take adequate action to require accurate recordkeeping and reporting by local agencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should require that an adequate inspection of weatherized units be made by the local administering agency before the units are reported as completed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: As part of an ongoing review of the Weatherization Program (Code 308761), GAO plans to fully review a DOE energy savings study issued in September 1984. The review indicates that the study has several shortcomings such as lack of a control group, it is better than many other available studies. GAO will comment on the adequacy of the DOE study in its report on the program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should obtain statistically valid data to determine the energy savings resulting from the weatherization program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should instruct DOE operations offices to periodically assess State weatherization programs for adequacy of State monitoring and accuracy of program reports.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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