Complications in Implementing Home Weatherization Programs for the Poor

HRD-78-149: Published: Aug 2, 1978. Publicly Released: Aug 2, 1978.

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To help combat the impact of rising energy costs on low-income individuals and to reduce national energy consumption, the Community Services Administration (CSA) insulates and repairs homes for the economically disadvantaged. As of December 1977, over $100 million had been provided in grants to more than 900 local community action agencies and other organizations. Also, the Department of Energy (DOE) is carrying out a $200 million supplementary home Weatherization Assistance Program.

The Weatherization Program has helped many disadvantaged families, but the extent of help cannot be determined nor can the amount of energy conserved. Because of a 10-percent limitation on program administration costs, including labor, labor support is provided under a mutual agreement with the Department of Labor. This agreement has not been effectively carried out. Problems have resulted from poor workmanship and unavailability of an adequate labor force. The program has also been hampered by other administrative problems. CSA has not issued sufficient guidance, required program controls, nor adequately monitored program operations. Because grantees do not have specific direction for weatherizing rentals, most of the poor are excluded from the program. CSA also has not reported effectively on the quantity and nature of weatherization work performed and its effects on recipients and energy savings. An agreement of understanding among CSA, DOE, and Labor, intended to achieve program coordination, has not resolved problems arising from differing regulations and two federal funding sources making awards to the same grantees.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should clarify the roles of CSA and DOE, consider placing responsibility for low-income home weatherization in DOE, and also consider providing the Secretary of Labor with authority to earmark Comprehensive Employment and Training Act program funds for supplying weatherization labor.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Labor and Energy, and the Director, CSA, should establish procedures under the interagency agreement to resolve difficulties. The Secretary of Labor should report periodically to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the Labor manpower program commitments, and the Director, OMB, should ensure that the interagency agreement is functioning effectively. The Director, CSA, should: (1) provide grantees with guidance for weatherizing rental property; (2) require grantees to submit goals for rental weatherization in grant proposals; (3) require grantees to provide new building weatherization plans with information to estimate energy savings; (4) issue specific guidance for implementing grantee procurement and inventory controls; and (5) increase CSA monitoring to ensure materials controls. The Secretary of Energy should adopt policies and procedures consistent with these recommendations.

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