Fiscal Year 1999 Budget Request for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Financial Management Issues

RCED-98-186R: Published: Jun 10, 1998. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the fiscal year (FY) 1999 budget request and financial management issues of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EE) within the Department of Energy (DOE), focusing on: (1) programs and activities in EE's FY 1999 budget request that raise questions because justifications for significant increases were unclear or inadequate; (2) funds that may be used to reduce the FY 1999 budget request; (3) EE's efforts to reduce uncosted obligations; and (4) problems in DOE's Financial Information System and the Department's efforts to address them.

GAO noted that: (1) EE's FY 1999 budget request contains eight programs and activities with questionable justifications; (2) the additional funds requested by five energy conservation programs and by three solar renewable programs amount to about $129 million and $48 million, respectively, for a total of about $177 million; (3) various problems, such as highly technical detail in some cases and inadequate information in others, weakened the justifications for the increases; (4) other concerns, such as the potential duplication of activities resulting from the proposed increases, also emerged; (5) in preparing the FY 1999 budget request, EE identified $17 million from prior year funds that it used for reducing the request; (6) it also commented on the difficulty of identifying any further funds to reduce its request; (7) GAO identified between $264 million and $286 million as potentially available for this purpose; (8) GAO also found that many factors can contribute to increasing uncosted obligations and that EE has taken several steps to reduce the amount of funds in this category; and (9) DOE's Financial Information System has strengths as an accounting system but shortcomings as a financial management system that DOE recognizes and is taking steps to remedy.

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