Skip to comments.Report: In Obama's Chicago, stimulus weatherization money buys shoddy work, widespread fraud
Posted on 10/20/2010 9:38:35 AM PDT by STARWISE
Projects to weatherize homes are a key part of the Obama administration's fusion of stimulus spending and the green agenda. But a new report by the Department of Energy has found serious problems in stimulus-funded weatherization work --
***problems so severe that they have resulted in homes that are not only not more energy efficient but are actually dangerous for people to live in.
The study, by the Department's inspector general, examined the work of what's called the Weatherization Assistance Program, or WAP, in Illinois. Last year, the Department awarded Illinois $242 million, which was expected to pay for the weatherization of 27,000 homes.
Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes. (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)
The findings are grim.
"Our testing revealed substandard performance in weatherization workmanship, initial assessments, and contractor billing," the inspector general report says. "These problems were of such significance that they put the integrity of the entire program at risk."
Department inspectors visited 15 homes that were being weatherized by CEDA and paid for by stimulus funds. "We found that 14 of the 15 homes&hellipfailed final inspection because of poor workmanship and/or inadequate initial assessments," the report says.
In eight of the homes, CEDA had come up with unworkable and ineffective plans -- like putting attic insulation in a house with a leaky roof. In ten of the homes, "contractors billed for labor charges that had not been incurred and for materials that had not been installed." The report calls billing problems "pervasive," with seven of ten contractors being cited for erroneous invoicing.
And the department found "a 62 percent final inspection error rate" when CEDA inspectors reviewed their own work.
The work was not just wasteful; it was dangerous. Department inspectors found "heat barriers around chimneys that had not been installed, causing fire hazards."
They found "a furnace [that] had not been vented properly." The found "a shut-off valve that had not been installed on a gas stove." And they found "carbon monoxide detectors, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers had not been installed as planned."
And then there was fraud.
At ten of the 15 homes visited, Department inspectors found examples in which "a contractor had installed a 125,000 BTU boiler, but had billed CEDA for a 200,000 BTU boiler costing an estimated $1,000. more." Another contractor "billed for almost four times the amount of drywall actually installed."
And another "installed 12 light bulbs but had billed CEDA for 20." (The Department found that CEDA paid almost three times the retail price for each light bulb.) "Billing issues appeared to be pervasive," the report concludes.
The report is in the hands of Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who has been pushing hard for more accountability in the spending of stimulus money. Grassley has complained about this specific program before, and is not happy with the new assessment.
"I am concerned that the Department of Energy and state WAPs are failing to prevent fraud, waste and abuse in the massive amounts of taxpayers dollars spent on weatherization projects," Grassley writes in a new letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
After Grassley earlier expressed concerns about weatherization, the Department assured him that the program had "turned the corner" and "made great strides" in cleaning up its operations. "In light of this report, it is clear that the Department's efforts have been inadequate," Grassley writes.
BHO = Worst President Ever !
REMEMBER NOVEMBER 2ND!!!
Imagine the wasted billions .. tick, tick, tick ...
No surprise there. Oh well, isn’t this program supposed to be over at year-end anyway? Oh wait....the lame duck session will probably take care of extending that on their way out.
How many FBI agents could make a career out of this one program? Sounds like a whole bunch of people need to do time.
more soeotro wreakage
Shocked I tell you.
The Government can not run a program for the weatherization of homes without fraud, waste and incompetence.
This is who you want in charge of your personal healthcare?
Are you INSANE?
Looks like this program was hugely successful. It far exceeded the intended goals of this President. Corruption, graft, and payoff - all in the name of helping those less fortunate. It’s the Obama way.
What do they expect from Chicago?
Gambling at Rick’s? I am shocked!
In Obamaworld everything is upside down.
Pay people to destroy working vehicles.
Pay people to screw up homes.
Pay people to not work.
It's all good.
Of course, it will be determined that the only solution for this is to send more money to fix the faulty weatherization issues. After all, we cannot have poor people living with bad weatherization!!
Chicago!!!shoddy work....widespread fraud!!!
Also, wasn’t Joe Biden given the assignment to make sure the stimulus money was used effectively and appropriately? Do you suppose he even KNOWS about this?
I can see November from my toothbrush.
Right ... ‘stand up, Chuck!’
Whatta hopeless buffoon and entire admin.
WHO DID NOT SEE THIS ONE COMING?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t CEDA part of ACORN, or whatever the hell they call it now?
YES YES YES !!!!
Surprise he didn’t win a Nobel Peace Prize. /sarc.
Article: CEDA’s Robert Wharton is ‘Business Man of the Year’
September 24, 2008
Defender Staff Report
Robert L. Wharton, president and chief executive officer of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County was honored as “Business Man of the Year” during the 2008 Minority Business Expo held earlier this month. The event was held at Governors State University in south suburban University Park.
Wharton has been at the helm of the social service agency for over a decade.
The distinguished honor puts him in company with ComEd Chairman and CEO Frank Clark and Luster Products President Jory F. Luster, past recipients of the award.
“It’s truly an honor to be recognized for the great work that CEDA has done over the
Quinn Administration Highlights Impact of Federal Recovery Funding on States Weatherization Efforts
Additional $242 Million Available to Increase Weatherization Services, Create Jobs
CHICAGO - October 30, 2009. On National Weatherization Day, representatives from Governor Pat Quinns Administration joined officials with the U.S. Department of Energy, the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA) and Serious Materials at a multi-family unit on Chicagos West Side to highlight services being provided through the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP). Illinois has received approximately $242 million in additional funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to assist with low-income home weatherization efforts over the next two years.
More people throughout Illinois have access to home weatherization services this year thanks to funding through the federal recovery act, said Governor Quinn. With the help of our partner agencies, we are not only helping to reduce home energy bills for people who need it most, but are also putting hundreds of people back to work and furthering our commitment to a greener economy.
IHWAP reduces heating and cooling costs for low-income families by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Measures may include: weather-stripping and caulking; insulating attics and walls; furnace work; repairing windows and doors; and replacing windows, if needed.
Weve already begun to see the impact of federal stimulus dollars, said CEDA President/CEO Robert L. Wharton. In order to meet the increased demand and triple the number of homes we will weatherize, we need to hire more staff and contractors to ensure work is done efficiently and timely. This is a great opportunity for Illinois to show that President Obama made the right choice to support major investments in energy efficiency initiatives.
Scammers .. all of them.
AND THEY’VE EARNED THEIR DEPARTURE!
Officials tell ABC News so far, they found 700 mistaken Congressional districts out of more than 130,000 stimulus grants. On Monday night, ABC reported on errors found on the website set up by the White House to track the number of jobs created or saved by the economic stimulus program. The website was riddled with reports of jobs in places that didn't even exist. That report prompted anger on Capitol Hill, and defensiveness at the White House. On Tuesday night's broadcast, ABC's Chief Congressional Correspondent Jon Karl took another look at the stimulus confusion (link)
LINK---Jon Karl: White House Vows to Correct Stimulus Reports Officials Tell ABC News So Far, They Found 700 Mistaken Congressional Districts Out of More Than 130,000 Stimulus Grants
ABC NEWS' JONATHAN KARL, Chief Congressional Correspondent, REPORTS, Nov. 17, 2009
When it comes to stimulus spending, could the wheels of government bureaucracy be grinding too quickly for once? Responding to more inaccuracies discovered in the reporting of spending and job creation from the administration's economic stimulus plan, the top White House official charged with overseeing the program vowed today to go through the reports with a fine-toothed comb and to correct the mistakes.
The promise came after ABC News found that Recovery.gov, the government Web site created to track the expenditures, had many job creation and stimulus spending figures that were attributed to congressional districts that do not exist, or that were incorrectly identified.
"The first time out, we knew there were going to be problems," said Edward DeSeve, special advisor to the president on the stimulus bill. "We don't think there are a lot of them. There are less than 1 percent in terms of the recent concern about congressional districts of the overall reports. And we've got a good commitment from the recovery board to work with us to fix them."
Officials tell ABC News, so far, they have found 700 mistakenly credited congressional districts out of more than 130,000 stimulus grants. The White House's Web site claims that more than 640,000 jobs have already been saved and created by the " $787 billion stimulus program. The reports used to come up with that number are riddled with errors.
In addition to the jobs in non-existent congressional districts reported Monday by ABC News, in real congressional districts, there are also problems, lots of them.
Moore's Shoes in Campbellsville, Ky., claims nine jobs were created from an $890 grant for nine pairs of work boots for the Army Corps of Engineers. Head Start of Augusta, Ga., claimed 317 jobs with a $790,000 grant, but it was really just a one-time raise to its 317 employees.
Chris Whitley is a fiscal officer for Central Savannah River Area Economic Opportunity Authority, which administers the Head Start program in Augusta. He says it was the administration's stimulus help line that advised them to claim 317 jobs. "It wasn't illegal, immoral or unethical. And they told me to do it, so I did it," said Whitley.
The mistakes have prompted anger on Capitol Hill. Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was outraged that one sewer project in his district was listed as creating 100 jobs. The real number is five. When asked what he thought when he saw the mistakes in his district, Obey said, "I wanted to strangle somebody."
Obey is demanding the administration fix the mistakes. "Fix the problem, the blessed problem, so that we're getting accurate information. I don't care what people's bureaucratic niceties are, or how hard it is to do it. I mean, they've got to fix the problem, so the American people can understand what the realities are.
$6.4 Billion Stimulus Goes to Phantom Districts
watchdog.org | November, 2009 | staff
FR Posted August 09, 2010 by bronxville
...Just how big is the stimulus package? Well for one, it has doubled the size of the House of Representatives, according to recovery.gov, which says that funds were distributed to 440 congressional districts that do not exist.
According to data retrieved from recovery.gov, nearly $6.4 billion was used to create or save just under 30,000 jobs in these phantom congressional districtsalmost $225,000 per job. The web site operates on an $84 million budget and is tasked with monitoring the distribution of the $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congresswhich, for the record, counts 435 membersin early 2009...
Americans are awakening to the fact that govt insiders are mishandling trillions in "stimulus" that federal monies are being illegally directed to Democrat campaign coffers, and/or wire-transferred offshore into personal accounts......and being laundered in the states.
Keep in mind, much of the stimulus was sitting in Washington. Ohaha hoarded it (together with his several slush funds), doling it out to imperiled Dems' 2010-12 campaigns.
WASHINGTON Recovery.gov promised transparency on how the government spends every dollar of stimulus money, but there's $162 million the website doesn't disclose. Recipients of 352 federal stimulus contracts, grants and loans have failed to report how they spent the money, the status of their projects or how many jobs were funded, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Despite orders from the White House to crack down, enforcement is spotty.
The reports are important because they provide the most detailed disclosures of government spending, and are the keystone of government transparency efforts. Last Friday, the beginning of a new fiscal year, OMB expanded the use of recipient reporting, requiring it for the first time on non-stimulus spending. OMB controller Danny Werfel said those 352 are less than 1% of the more than 88,000 stimulus projects required to report a big improvement over a year ago, when reporting started and about 8% of recipients didn't file. But as compliance goes up, repeat offenders stand out.
As of the last report, 32 recipients have missed two consecutive quarterly reports and eight have missed three. They account for $7.4 million in awards. "Once you get to a second instance, you're sensing more of a pattern," Werfel said. "It's no longer a miscue or disconnect." In May, then-OMB director Peter Orszag instructed agencies to take action against repeat offenders within 20 days. That action could include investigations for fraud and suspensions from all future federal contracts. It's unclear whether that's happening. Werfel would not release OMB enforcement reports.
But a USA TODAY review of debarment actions companies excluded from receiving federal contracts found only one non-reporting recipient suspended. That company, International Trading CCT LLC of Livonia, Mich., wasn't suspended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which gave it $442,096 in stimulus money to rent equipment in Huron-Manistee National Forests in Michigan.
It was the Defense Logistics Agency that suspended the company, accusing it of delivering substandard construction materials for Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and then forging documents to cover it up. The company owes the Defense Department $305,256, according to an agency memo. The company's phone is disconnected.
A USA TODAY analysis of missing reports shows the Department of Agriculture has the biggest problem: 100 recipients receiving $103 million have failed to submit reports. Agriculture spokeswoman Stephanie Chan said 98% of recipients have reported. For those who haven't, the department "has worked aggressively on a case-by-case basis to achieve compliance." One recipient, a Fort Morgan, Colo., ranch that received $56,286 for irrigation improvements and has missed three quarterly reporting deadlines, has received little more than form letters.
Ranches Inc. has received three reminder letters from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Earl Devaney, chairman of the agency that runs Recovery.gov, told Congress last year he supports even harsher penalties for not reporting something Congress didn't do in the Recovery Act. "Even if criminal penalties are not practical, the fact that some would willfully not file is distressing and must be addressed," he said.
TABLE: Awards not yet reported Recipients of more than $162 million in federal stimulus spending haven't reported to the government what they've done with the money. A breakdown by agency:
Department/Agency----Number not reporting----Total (in millions)
Agriculture 100 $103.3
Health & Human Services 73 $22.4
General Services Administration 6 $8.5
Education 48 $6.2
Justice 38 $3.7
National Science Foundation 8 $3.4
Bureau of Land Management 21 $3.1
Bureau of Indian Affairs 19 $2.5
State 3 $2.1
Housing & Urban Development 2 $1.7
Homeland Security 3 $1.2
National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration 3 $1.0
Others 28 $3.7
Total 352 $162.8
Includes Economic Development Administration, US Army Corps of Engineers, Transportation, Energy, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, Federal Communications Commission and Labor.
SOURCE: USA TODAY analysis of Office of Management and Budget data