Surprise! Stimulus Weatherization Projects Were A Waste Of Money

Or worse.  In some cases, shoddy workmanship made the homes dangerous to live in:

Specifically, Energy Department inspectors took a close look at the troubled operations of the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County, known as CEDA, which is the largest recipient of weatherization money in Illinois with $91 million to weatherize 12,500 homes.  (Cook County is, of course, home to Chicago.)

* * *

Department inspectors visited 15 homes that were being weatherized by CEDA and paid for by stimulus funds. “We found that 14 of the 15 homes…failed final inspection because of poor workmanship and/or inadequate initial assessments,” the report says. In eight of the homes, CEDA had come up with unworkable and ineffective plans — like putting attic insulation in a house with a leaky roof. In ten of the homes, “contractors billed for labor charges that had not been incurred and for materials that had not been installed.” The report calls billing problems “pervasive,” with seven of ten contractors being cited for erroneous invoicing. And the department found “a 62 percent final inspection error rate” when CEDA inspectors reviewed their own work.

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 reason for this fraud and incompetence is simple and predictable — people are spending other people’s money on these projects.  If you are spending other people’s money, you will not care as much what it is spent on or the value received as you will when spending your own money.  As a result, fraud and incompetence are virtually guaranteed in these projects.  There is no one with sufficient incentive and time to make sure it doesn’t happen.

The same people who designed this mess also tell us that they can drive fraud and waste out of Medicare and that Obamacare will be run flawlessly.

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Published in: on October 20, 2010 at 5:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

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