Stimulus Funds for Weatherization Misused

Federal stimulus money meant to help poor people weatherize their homes is being mismanaged.

State auditors say out of the more than 400 records they reviewed, more than half were missing proof of income eligibility, inspection reports, and, in some cases, proof of whether work was even done.

Not ready for cash influx

The Department of Energy gave Tennessee $106 million over three years to help eligible residents make energy improvements to their homes. That’s more than eight times the amount of money the state usually gets.

Tennessee’s director for state audits, Art Hayes, says he wasn’t surprised to find widespread problems. Local agencies simply aren’t used to having that much money to give out to residents, and contractors.

“What happens is, the contractors that normally do it, they end up having to sub out to contractors that probably haven’t done this sort of work, and in some cases those contractors even have to sub out again. So you’re going to have questions with, at least, in regard to, quality.”

Audit results preliminary

The records that the comptroller’s office reviewed are a small sample, and Hayes says the preliminary audit is meant to show changes are needed now. The final findings will be included in a full audit for the federal government in March.

The Department of Human Services, which runs Tennessee’s weatherization program, is charged with following up on the audit’s findings.

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