Now Illinois has gotten into the act of not properly utilizing your federal tax dollars.
In total, the stimulus program allocated about $5 billion to the cause of home weatherization, outfitting homes with the latest green technology in order to reduce energy prices.
It’s now three years later, and it appears the weatherization program has gone down a road of waste, fraud and abuse.
Illinois’ share of the weatherization program was $242 million over three years, with a goal of weatherizing 27,000 homes for $9,000 each.…
Despite the generous weatherization stimulus, the Illinois legislature decided to create its own, state-run program. Thus, in 2009, the Urban Weatherization Initiative was created, with $425 million to spend over five years. (Source: The Daily Caller)
So, now we not only have the federal government wasting the tax payer’s money, the state of Illinois decided they can waste money even better. No wonder this state is in danger of collapsing upon itself.
The entire program is having all kinds of troubles, from shoddy workmanship to outright abuse.
But in October 2010, Gregory H. Friedman, Inspector General at the Department of Energy, issued a scathing report on Illinois’ weatherization program funded with stimulus dollars.
Among his findings were that 14 out of 15 “weatherized” homes failed final inspection because of poor workmanship and 12 out of 15 homes contained substandard work that could have “resulted in significant property damage or injury to homeowners.” (Source: The Daily Caller)
To make matters even sketchier, fraud has also reared its ugly head.
Worst still, Friedman reported that contractors hired to weatherize home charged homeowners prices significantly higher that market value for the items they installed.
“For example, CEDA’s published prices for smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and thermostats ranged from about 120 percent to 200 percent over the average retail prices,” reads the audit report. “Neither CEDA nor State officials could justify such large mark-ups on materials.”
“Additionally, a contractor had installed one carbon monoxide detector, but had billed CEDA for 3; another contractor had installed 12 light bulbs, but had billed CEDA for 20; and, yet another failed to install a gas shut-off value, but had billed for the work. In addition, a contractor had billed for almost four times the amount of drywall actually installed,” reads the report. (Source: The Daily Caller)Is it really the Obama Administration’s fault that these shady contractors decided to take a little larger piece of the pie?
Yes and no.
Wasteful spending is pretty much a fact of life when it comes to federal programs. It has become commonplace to hear stories about $500 hammers and $600 toilet seats. And over the years, numerous government contractors, big and small, have faced the music when it comes to defrauding the government.
However, many of the stimulus programs were (and are) especially ripe for this kind of corruption. While most DoD and other government departments have some sort of spending controls that can reduce wasteful spending and fraud (if used properly), the stimulus programs were too ad hoc. These programs were put on the street much too quickly for the government to get a handle on how the spending and allocation of funds should be handled. This is a recipe for disaster. In the interest of getting programs started that were put in place to create jobs (a dubious claim anyway), Obama and his crew didn’t put the necessary safeguards in place until it was too late.
Hopefully, as more news of the waste and corruption in the weatherization program breaks, more accountability will be created. However, since the weatherization program has become such a massive failure on so many levels, this might be a program that needs to be finished off, with the money directed to other programs and deficit reduction.