Renewable Energy: An Inventory of Fiscal Year 2010 Federal Initiatives (GAO-12-259SP, February 2012), an E-supplement to GAO-12-260

Read the Full Report: Renewable Energy: Federal Agencies Implement Hundreds of Initiatives (GAO-12-260).

Background

This e-supplement provides a detailed inventory of federal renewable energy initiatives implemented by 23 departments and independent agencies in fiscal year 2010, which we refer to collectively as 'agencies.' For each initiative, this inventory includes the following data that were reported to us by the agencies: (1) the implementing agency, subagency, and office; (2) a description of the initiative, including its purpose, how it works, and how it relates to renewable energy; (3) the renewable energy sources it supports, regulates, or otherwise relates to; and (4) a description of the direct recipients it supports. In addition, this e-supplement provides our analysis of the federal role and the types of direct recipients each initiative supports based on information collected from the agencies. This inventory is the basis for information presented in the full report, Renewable Energy: Federal Agencies Implement Hundreds of Initiatives, GAO-12-260 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 2012).

The inventory of initiatives can be accessed from the Table of Contents link below. It is available in its entirety for download as a comma-separated values (.csv) file.

To identify federal agencies' renewable energy-related initiatives, we collected information on initiatives that were funded, planned, implemented, or authorized in fiscal year 2010 by reviewing agencies' budget documents and other key information sources, such as strategic plans and websites. From this effort, we developed data on agencies' initiatives that were related to renewable energy through a specific emphasis or focus, even if renewable energy was part of a broader effort. We defined an initiative as a program or group of activities serving a similar purpose or function. In some instances, this corresponded to distinct agency programs or initiatives. In other cases, we identified and grouped similar activities into initiatives based on our own judgment when there did not already appear to be a formal name for the initiative, or disaggregated higher-level activities that included multiple initiatives. Where we identified individual renewable energy-related projects, such as a specific facility energy effort or grant award, we did not consider the projects to be initiatives themselves; rather we identified the broader program or area of effort to which they belonged as an initiative. Therefore, the data that we developed do not necessarily represent initiatives that are of similar size in terms of agency financial commitments, number of projects involved, or other quantitative measures. Also, our data do not always match agencies' reported information on these activities, such as information contained in agency budget or strategic planning documents. In addition, our inventory includes both spending programs and tax expenditures, which are revenue losses attributable to a provision of the federal tax laws that (1) allows a special exclusion, exemption, or deduction from gross income or (2) provides a special credit, preferential tax rate, or deferral of tax liability. Rather than transferring funds from the government to the private sector, the U.S. government forgoes some of the tax revenues that it would have collected and the taxpayers that take advantage of the provisions of the tax code pay lower taxes than they would otherwise have had to pay.

We focused on agencies subject to the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990 (CFO Act) with renewable energy-related activities that went beyond standard governmentwide efforts to incorporate renewable energy into their vehicle fleets and facilities in response to requirements and direction established by federal laws and executive orders. These agencies were: the departments of Agriculture (USDA), Commerce, Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), Homeland Security (DHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation (DOT), and the Treasury; as well as the following independent agencies: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), General Services Administration (GSA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), Small Business Administration (SBA), and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Of these 18 CFO Act agencies, we collected data on DOD activities separately for the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and other DOD components that report to the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, we collected data for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) separately from DOE, although it is listed under DOE in the federal budget. As a result, we provide data on 23 agencies rather than 18. We submitted a structured data request to agencies to provide information on each of their renewable energy initiatives, and conducted interviews with agency officials responsible for providing the data to collect additional information and assess the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the data provided. We determined the data to be sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this e-supplement.

The number of initiatives agencies implement and related descriptive information are important to understanding renewable energy efforts governmentwide; however, we recognize that other measures of agencies' activities are important as well. For example, data on the level of financial support agencies provide, coordination of efforts, and other information are also indicators of agencies' renewable energy efforts. During this review, we did not evaluate agencies' renewable energy-related initiatives on the basis of these other indicators. In particular, we did not collect information on the level of financial support agencies provide for their renewable energy efforts because, for example, officials stated during follow-up discussions that financial support for renewable energy is often not tracked separately from other activities. Therefore, we could not collect reliable renewable energy-specific funding or revenue loss estimates across the full inventory of initiatives we identified. We recognize that initiatives may vary greatly in the scale of their funding or the number of entities expected to benefit, among other things; however, in this inventory, we do not present information on these measures. For a more detailed discussion of our methodology, see appendix I of GAO-12-260.

We conducted this performance audit in Washington, D.C., from April 2010 through February 2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives.

Contents

Table of Contents

Contact

Frank Rusco, (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov

(361348)

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