A Program Full of Broken Promises

February 16, 2011 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

Look at this window. Does it look weatherized to you? Me neither.

Now, this isn’t the exact window, but a strikingly similar picture was published in a recent Tennessee state comptroller’s audit on the state’s weatherization program.  The only real difference between that picture and this one was a piece of cardboard covering the broken panes — hardly “weatherized” if you ask me.

My concern is that this is what we’re getting for our federal dollars. The state received $106 million in Recovery Act funds for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 for the Weatherization Assistance for Low-Income Persons program, passing the funds through to local government and nonprofit subrecipients to procure subcontractors to perform the work. State auditors reviewed files for 444 weatherized homes and found deficiencies in half of those cases. The report included several disheartening pictures of shoddy workmanship including floor insulation that was not repaired, improperly installed windows and doors, poorly wrapped hot water heaters, and, my favorite, broken windows that were not repaired.

Mike Holmes, the excellent contractor who fixes the careless mistakes of previous contractors on the HGTV show “Holmes on Homes” would be appalled at such poor work, especially since it was paid for on the taxpayers’ dime. Steps must be taken to avoid such clear examples of fraud, waste and abuse. Hopefully the state will heed the recommendations of the state comptroller to avoid these instances in the future.

More on the Tennessee state comptroller’s audit will be available in the March issue of the Single Audit Information Service. Have you experienced obvious instances of fraud, waste or abuse of federal funds? What proactive steps can the grant and audit communities take to prevent it?

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  1. [...] dollars are structurally sound to withstand that rare 5.8 earthquake (for example, check back to a blog I did in February on a LIHEAP [...]

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