Your Tax Dollars…Down The Drain: DOE Puts Dancers & Filmmakers In Charge of Installing Energy Retrofits, Chaos Ensues

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today released the following statement in a monthly series highlighting Washington’s wasteful spending during a time of record debt and deficits:

This month’s example of government waste comes from the 2009 “stimulus” bill, which added more than $800 billion to the national debt without coming close to fulfilling the Obama Administration’s promise to reduce the unemployment rate to 5 percent.  Even now, four years later, government audits continue to reveal ways in which this money was wasted.

In just the latest example of wasteful spending,  a new Department of Energy (DOE) audit discovered that $630,000 in stimulus funds meant to install energy efficiency retrofits around Washington D.C. were distributed to – of all recipients – a dance group and a film group. These groups had no energy installation qualifications whatsoever, and predictably failed to achieve even in this modest task that was their charge.

“The stimulus was sold as financing high-priority projects to create jobs and invest in growth.  Yet once again, Washington predictably gets bogged down in mismanagement, cronyism, and waste,” said Portman.  “Better to bypass Washington and instead empower families and businesses to spend and invest their own money as they see fit.”

The African Heritage Dancers and Drummers (AHDD), and Prosperity Media Enterprise (PME) were hired as part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.  It appears personal connections may have played a role: PME’s project manager was a former DOE employee and supervisor to two members of that committee that awarded their $460,000 grant.  This manager reportedly “embellished” his resume to help win the award.

Not surprisingly, it turns out that dancers and filmmakers are not experts in installing energy equipment: 19 of the 33 projects performed by PME failed their DOE inspection. One contractor in particular achieved a 91 percent failure rate. Furthermore, 12 PME projects included reimbursement claims for work that was never performed. Not to be outdone, AHDD reportedly refused to repay $42,500 in taxpayer funds that had been advanced for work never performed. Given the lack of general oversight, many of these problems would never have been discovered had the DOE not performed this investigation.