The Energy Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) claims that it is "unable to locate" $500,000 worth of taxpayer-funded equipment purchased by a recipient of the "Advanced Batteries and Hybrid Components Program," CNSNews.com’s Penny Star reports.
Just to be clear, a company that was awarded stimulus money claims it spent $500,000 on equipment that the OIG can’t seem to "locate." Who, pray tell, was that company?
“The DOE said it would not be ‘appropriate’ to release the name of stimulus-money recipient where the $500,000 worth of equipment could
not be located,” Star reports.
Wow. Well. That was awfully nice of them.
The "Advanced Batteries and Hybrid Components Program" was given approximately $2 billion in stimulus cash to “support the construction of U.S. based battery and electric drive component manufacturing plants." The DOE has thus far "expended" approximately $1.2 billion and has awarded grants to "30 for-profit manufacturers," according to the OIG report.
Stating the absolute obvious, the OIG report concludes by suggesting the DOE should do more to “ensure recipients adequately safeguard equipment purchased with federal funds.”
In a section of the audit titled “Safeguarding Assets,” the OIG writes:
While recipients were required to have property accountability systems in place, one of the three recipients we reviewed had not maintained records detailing information such as the location of equipment purchased with Recovery Act funds.
In the absence of detailed inventory records, we attempted to locate property using information contained in invoices.
However, despite the assistance of recipient officials familiar with the premises and knowledgeable about the purchases made, we were unable to locate 20 of the 37 equipment items sampled.
And just to be clear, the "missing" equipment was purchased with $500,000 taxpayer dollars.
Here are some more “conclusions and observations” found in the report:
Better define regulations governing the retention of documentation supporting procurement decisions. Regulations currently require for-profit recipients to follow best commercial practices, but do not define such practices. One recipient in our sample had purchased about $24 million in equipment and services without adequately documenting purchasing decisions.
Obtain and review required audit reports to ensure the sufficiency of internal controls and compliance with laws and regulations. Of 28 program recipients, 8 had not submitted required reports.
Adding to the absurdity of the situation is the fact that this isn't even the first time the OIG has audited the "Advanced Batteries and Hybrid Components Program."
The first audit was conducted in April 2010. The OIG, as Star notes, explained that a “follow-up” was necessary because it wanted to evaluate “circumstances related to an allegation received by the Office of Inspector General that an employee of one recipient had unduly influenced procurement decisions and violated conflict of interest provisions.”
The second audit insists that there was no “potential conflict of interest.”
Both CNSNews.com and The Blaze reached out to the OIG for the name of the recipient that managed to "misplace" $500,000 worth of taxpayer-funded equipment.
CNSNews.com was given the following statement: “The focus of the audit was based on Department of Energy’s policy and implementation. It is not appropriate to disclose company names.”
The OIG has not, however, respond to our request [which, now that we think about, kinda’ hurts our feelings].