December 3, 2012
The Department's Implementation of Financial Incentive Programs under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program
The Department of Energy's (Department) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program, funded for the first time by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), was intended to help US cities, counties and states develop, promote, implement and manage energy efficiency and conservation projects. The EECBG Program received $3.2 billion in Recovery Act funding for competitive and formula grants. Of the $3.2 billion, approximately $284 million was designated by EECBG recipients for financial incentive programs. The Department had taken a number of positive steps to implement and administer EECBG financial incentive programs to ensure accountability for Recovery Act funding and compliance with laws and regulations. For example, with the launch of the Recovery Act, the Department introduced the Solution Center, an online portal for technical assistance resources that included best practices, templates, online trainings and webcasts. However, our review found two major challenges in ensuring the effectiveness of the EECBG financial incentive programs. These challenges included: (1) Ensuring grant recipients were on track to meet expenditure goals for their financial incentive programs prior to the end of their grant periods; and, (2) Finalizing grant recipient guidance on their responsibilities for long-term monitoring and reporting of financial incentive programs funding. We found that the Department understood these challenges and had taken action to address them. Additionally, we noted that the Department had identified and was taking action to address a problem with one recipient that had not complied with Federal requirements to segregate Recovery Act funds from other funding sources in its accounting system.