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Audit Report: OAS-M-13-05

August 16, 2013

The Department of Energy's Appliance and Equipment Standards Program

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 established a national-level energy conservation program for major appliances and called for setting efficiency targets.  The Department of Energy's (Department) Appliance and Equipment Standards Program (Standards Program) is tasked with administering these statutory requirements.  Since 2010, the Office of Enforcement, within the Office of General Counsel, has collected $5.6 million in penalties from manufacturers for noncompliance with minimum standards and certification requirements.

Our audit found opportunities for improvement in the administration of the Standards Program.Specifically, we found the Department had not always ensured that manufacturers certified products to meet the minimum standards as required by Federal regulations, and annually re-certified products as required by Federal regulations.  Additionally, the Department could not demonstrate that it had provided adequate oversight of the Manufacturer Impact Analysis, a key work-product used by program officials to develop and set minimum standards.  We also noted that the Department had not met many of its legislative deadlines for the establishment of test procedures and minimum standards. 

We made recommendations to improve the Standards Program and address the identified issues.As a result of our audit, the Department initiated actions to address the 23 uncertified products and 6 products that had not been re-certified by either establishing a new enforcement case or addressing the uncertified products through existing enforcement cases.  As of January 2013, the Department had completed enforcement actions on three of the products we referred to it for enforcement and assessed penalties totaling $24,000.

TOPIC: Energy