The Spectacle Blog

Given Time, More Fraud Appears

By on 10.20.10 | 7:38AM

I expect we'll be revisiting this many times. The Washington Post reported a few weeks ago:

The massive economic stimulus package President Obama pushed through Congress last year is coming in on time and under budget - and with strikingly few claims of fraud or abuse - according to a White House report to be released Friday.

Coming barely a month before November's midterm elections, which will determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress, the report challenges public perceptions of the stimulus aid as slow-moving and wasteful - an image that has fueled voter anger with the dominant party. Even some former skeptics who predicted that the money would lead to rampant abuse now acknowledge that the program could serve as a model for improving efficiency in government.

Then we heard a week later that more than $22 million in stimulus funds were sent to dead or incarcerated people. Now today, there's this from the Washington Examiner's Byron York:

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 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 department's report was focused on (surprise!) Cook County, Illinois, where the weatherization program received $91 million.

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