Obama administration weatherization programs rife with waste, fraud, inspector general audits show…

President Obama promised thousands of new green energy jobs would be created through weatherization of people’s homes as a part of his $787 billion dollar stimulus package, but 3 years later and it and it appears the program has gone down a road of waste, fraud and abuse.

llinois, Obama’s home state, share of the weatherization program funds in 2009 was $242 million over three years, with a goal of weatherizing 27,000 homes for $9,000 each. Despite receiving the weatherization stimulus funds, Illinois created its own state-run program $425 million to spend over five years.

In October of last year, Gregory H. Friedman, Inspector General at the Department of Energy, issued a scathing reporton Illinois’ weatherization program funded with stimulus dollars. Among his findings were that 14 out of 15 “weatherized” homes failed final inspection because of poor workmanship and 12 out of 15 homes contained substandard work that could have “resulted in significant property damage or injury to the homeowners.”

In one weatherized home, 11 out of the 14 items installed by the contractor failed inspection. Another home had an improperly installed exhaust system that was a potential fire hazard. The audit also found that the number of gas leaks discovered was “alarming” and that contractors hired to weatherize homes charged homeowners prices significantly higher than market value for the items they installed. There were also erroneous billing practices, in which homeowners were over-charged for services that were never carried out.

Republican state Sen. Dan Duffy, a member of the advisory board overseeing the state program, resigned from the non-voting position in March 2011 over what he saw to be an obvious waste of taxpayer money

“The more questions I asked, the more I was told ‘Dan, you don’t really have a vote,’” said Duffy. “I guess I don’t understand, when the state of Illinois literally cannot pay its bills and is going bankrupt, is this really the best use of money?” He added. “I don’t care if its state or federal. Why are we spending millions of dollars with absolutely no credibility of how that money is spent?”

Illinois unfortunately is not the only state experiencing these issues.

Delaware decided to suspend the program altogether after only nine months when it became apparent the fraud and mismanagement was getting out of control.

A state audit in Tennessee, which received more than $100 million in stimulus funds for weatherization, also found rampant waste and abuse. The 260-page report uncovered problems very similar to those in Illinois: work was done improperly and funds went to homeowners not even eligible for the program.

Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia have also reported numerous problems with the program.

“It’s a complete cesspool of waste,” said Leslie Paige, vice president of Citizens Against Government Waste. “When it’s over, we will never know how much went down the tube. They cannot track the money. By the time they get to it, a lot of the money will be gone.”

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