Energy Management:

Appeals Procedures for State and Local Assistance Programs

RCED-89-127: Published: May 10, 1989. Publicly Released: May 17, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Department of Energy's (DOE) administrative review procedures for its state and local energy conservation grant programs.

GAO found that: (1) DOE published regulations for administrative review procedures for its energy conservation, energy extension, and weatherization assistance programs; (2) the procedures included hearings before DOE-appointed panels or operations office managers and appeal to the Secretary; (3) federal regulations provided other appeal routes with broader applicability than just energy conservation grant programs; (4) no state had used the administrative review procedures applicable to the energy conservation grant programs, since most states had not experienced problems that required formal resolution; (5) two states appealed support office decisions to the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) based on guidance from program officials about appropriate appeal routes; (6) many state and DOE officials were not aware of or familiar with the administrative review procedures; (7) state officials characterized the procedures as inadequate, citing confusing and misleading wording and possible bias, since DOE-appointed personnel heard appeals; (8) DOE allowed OHA to continue to hear grant program appeals until it completed its study of OHA authority; and (9) DOE suspended the study, which lacked written objectives and a timetable for completion, in March 1989.

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