Recovery Act: Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Recipients Face Challenges Meeting Legislative and Program Goals and Requirements
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) provided $3.2 billion for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program (EECBG) to develop and manage projects to improve energy efficiency and reduce energy use and fossil fuel emissions. The Recovery Act requires GAO to review funds made available under the act and to comment on recipients' estimates of jobs created or retained. GAO examined (1) how EECBG recipients used EECBG funds and challenges they faced, if any; (2) DOE and recipients' oversight and monitoring activities and challenges, if any; (3) the extent to which the EECBG program is meeting Recovery Act and program goals for energy savings; and (4) the quality of jobs data reported by Recovery Act recipients, particularly EECBG recipients. GAO also updates the status of open recommendations from previous bimonthly and recipient reporting reviews. GAO analyzed DOE recipient data and interviewed DOE officials and a nonprobability sample of EECBG recipients, among other things.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Energy||To better ensure that EECBG funds are used to meet Recovery Act and program goals, the Secretary of Energy should explore a means to capture information on the monitoring processes of all recipients to make certain that recipients have effective monitoring practices.||
In July 2011, DOE added additional questions to the on-site monitoring checklists related to subrecipient monitoring to help ensure that subrecipients are in compliance with the terms and conditions of the award. These changes will help improve DOE's oversight of recipients, especially larger recipients, which are more likely to be visited by DOE project officers. As of June 2012, DOE reported that following 974 onsite monitoring visits, only one of its grantees had received a formal finding for insufficiently meeting requirements for subrecipient monitoring. Recognizing that DOE plans to conduct onsite monitoring for over 80 percent of its grantees' funds and that EECBG did not receive additional funding following the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we concluded that DOE has addressed the intent of this recommendation.
|Department of Energy||To better ensure that EECBG funds are used to meet Recovery Act and program goals, the Secretary of Energy should solicit information from recipients regarding the methodology they used to calculate their energy-related impact metrics and verify that recipients who use DOE's estimation tool use the most recent version when calculating these metrics.||
DOE officials noted that they have made changes to the way they collect impact metrics in order to apply one unified methodology to the calculation of impact metrics. DOE issued guidance effective June 23, 2011, that eliminates the requirement for grant recipients to calculate and report estimated energy savings. DOE officials said the calculation of estimated impact metrics will now be performed centrally by DOE by applying known national standards to existing grantee-reported performance metrics. Based on DOE's action, we concluded that DOE has addressed the intent of this recommendation.