Obama Weatherization Plan Fails Even in Home State

Thursday, 22 Sep 2011 09:28 AM

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Fraud and waste have beset President Barack Obama’s $5 billion weatherization program, part of the stimulus package he passed in 2009. And problems are occurring most notably in his home state of Illinois, reports DailyCaller.com.

Despite the problems, Department of Energy official Bill Gibbons stands behind the program.

“We always expected that it would take some time to get these programs fully up and running in the beginning, but we are on track to significantly exceed the 600,000-home goal set for the program,” Gibbons told the Caller. “The Department takes any reported case of abuse or poor performance very seriously, but these have been the exception rather than the rule, and we have taken aggressive actions to address the issues and hold those responsible accountable.”

An October 2010 report by Gregory H. Friedman, inspector general at the Department of Energy, showed that 14 out of 15 homes renovated under the program in Illinois alone failed to pass a final inspection because of shoddy work, and that renovations performed on 12 of 15 homes posed a physical risk to property or homeowners. The report also pointed out an “alarming” number of gas leaks.

Aside from below-par work, contractors were found to be taking advantage of the program by charging as much as 200 percent above standard industry prices for materials, the report found.

Among the audit’s case-by-case findings were that “a contractor had installed one carbon monoxide detector, but had billed . . . for 3; another contractor had installed 12 light bulbs, but had billed . . . for 20; and, yet another had failed to install a gas shut-off valve, but had billed for the work. In addition, a contractor had billed for almost four times the amount of drywall actually installed.”

Illinois Republican state Sen. Dan Duffy resigned from the board overseeing the state’s weatherization initiative over frustrations with how it was being conducted.

“The more questions I asked, the more I was told, ‘Dan, you don’t really have a vote,’” he told the Caller.

"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?” Duffy said. “I don’t care if it’s state or federal. Why are we spending millions of dollars with absolutely no credibility of how they spend that money?”

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