Views on H.R. 6136 and H.R. 6619

EMD-80-B4: Published: Mar 21, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 21, 1980.

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Comments were provided on the Economic Opportunity Amendments of 1979, two bills which are essentially identical and will amend the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, to establish a comprehensive energy conservation services program designed to enable low-income individuals and families, and severely handicapped individuals, to participate in energy assistance programs. Both bills would establish within the Community Services Administration (CSA) a weatherization program, a crisis intervention program, an outreach program, and a supplemental energy conservation services program.

The proposed weatherization program in both bills would be similar to the existing Department of Energy (DOE) weatherization program and to previously funded low-income weatherization programs which were administered jointly by DOE and CSA. Despite coordination efforts between DOE and CSA, the previous programs developed dissimilar standards and requirements for implementation at the local level and resulted in duplicate administration costs. If the proposed weatherization program is established at CSA in fiscal year 1981, and the DOE program is also continued, GAO believes it would result in a return to the problems noted when the previous two programs existed. However, if the proposed program is discontinued, the loss of program continuity and delays could adversely affect program progress. Additionally, both bills permit up to 120 days between their enactment and publication of program regulations. Such delays will mean that needed energy conserving actions are not taken as quickly as possible. Furthermore, past reviews of both DOE and CSA weatherization programs, showed problems in the administration of the programs at the local community action agencies. These same community action agencies administered both the DOE and CSA programs and will continue to do so regardless of which Federal agency is the source of funding. Thus GAO believes that the proposed low-income weatherization, outreach, and supplemental energy conservation services programs should be under the direction of DOE.

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