June 07,2010

Grassley Seeks Accounting of Stimulus Spending for Clean Energy Jobs

WASHINGTON --- Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the Department of Labor to account for the way federal tax dollars are being spent on clean energy jobs through the 2009 economic stimulus bill.  Grassley said the stimulus package included $80 billion for clean energy jobs, yet the apparent imprecision surrounding eligibility for the money might have led to spending on other items.

“I’m asking how the Administration is distributing the money for what it said would go to clean energy jobs,” Grassley said.  “If the criteria were too broad or poorly defined, the money might be going for other kinds of spending.  This inquiry is a measure of oversight to make sure the money is spent the way supporters of legislation said it would be spent.”

Grassley wrote to the secretary of labor, seeking more information on clean energy jobs spending.  This is his latest instance of stimulus oversight.  Earlier, he asked the Office of Management and Budget to describe oversight measures for all stimulus spending.  He also sought an accounting of how many stimulus dollars are used to purchase products made overseas, especially in countries that might not afford fair market access to U.S. products, after reports that stimulus money might go to wind energy turbines made in China.

Grassley also inquired about program dollars for housing after audits conducted by the Department of Housing and Urban Development inspector general raised questions about grantees’ ability to manage the rapid receipt of money and to employ the “thrift and good management that taxpayers expect and deserve.”  He also asked about protections for Small Business Administration loans, grants and contracts; weatherization grants from the Department of Energy; and nearly $6 billion of stimulus funds for spending by the General Services Administration for federal building conversion to high-performance green spaces; federal building and courthouse renovations; federal fuel-efficient vehicles; and land ports of entry renovation and construction.  The GSA Office of Inspector General issued an August 2009 report regarding GSA’s stimulus implementation challenges. The report said the increased workload for construction projects of nearly four times greater than a typical construction budget for a year, combined with the short timeframe in which to obligate stimulus funds, creates “an environment that provides more opportunities for fraud, waste, and abuse to occur.”