Recovery Act:

Status of Department of Energy's Obligations and Spending

GAO-11-483T: Published: Mar 17, 2011. Publicly Released: Mar 17, 2011.

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The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) aims to promote economic recovery, make investments, and minimize or avoid reductions in state and local government services. As of February 2011, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the act will cost $821 billion in spending and tax provisions through 2019. The Recovery Act provided the Department of Energy (DOE) more than $41.7 billion--$35.2 billion for projects and activities and $6.5 billion in borrowing authority--in areas such as energy efficiency, renewable energy, and environmental cleanup. This included about $3.2 billion for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program, about $3.1 billion for the State Energy Program, and about $5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program. The act also provided about $6 billion to DOE's Office of Environmental Management for environmental cleanup activities and about $2.5 billion to its Loan Guarantee Program Office to support such guarantees for, among other things, renewable energy projects. This testimony focuses on DOE's obligations and spending of Recovery Act funds for these programs and information reported on jobs funded as a result of this spending. This testimony is based on prior GAO work updated with data from DOE and on preliminary results from ongoing GAO work on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.

As of March 10, 2011, DOE reported that it had obligated $33.1 billion (94 percent) and spent $12.5 billion (36 percent) of the $35.2 billion it received under the Recovery Act for projects and activities. This is an increase from December 31, 2009, when DOE reported that it had obligated $23.2 billion and spent $1.8 billion. DOE programs vary in the amount of Recovery Act funds they have obligated and spent and in the number of jobs funded through such spending, according to DOE and recipient reported data. Specifically: (1) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. DOE has obligated the full $3.2 billion of Recovery Act funding provided for the program and, as of March 2011, some grant recipients reported spending about $860 million. GAO expects to issue a report in April 2011 with information on the quality of jobs data reported by recipients. (2) Office of Environmental Management Cleanup Activities. DOE has obligated virtually all of the $6 billion in Recovery Act funding for cleanup activities and, as of March 2011, had spent about two-thirds of the funds. Recovery Act-funded employment for DOE's cleanup activities peaked in the last quarter of 2010, when DOE reported that 10,977 full-time equivalents had been funded by the act. (3) Loan Guarantee Program. As of March 2011, DOE has obligated about 17 percent of the $2.5 billion provided for Loan Guarantee Program. For the last quarter of 2010, recipients reported 784 full-time equivalents had been funded from Loan Guarantee Program projects. (4) State Energy Program. As of January 2011, grant recipients reported obligating over $2.7 billion of Recovery Act funding and spending over $900 million of the $3.1 billion appropriated to the State Energy Program. (5) Weatherization Assistance Program. As of March 2011, DOE reported that half of the $5 billion of Recovery Act funding provided for the Weatherization Assistance Program had been spent. Recipients reported that about 15,391 full-time equivalents had been funded by the Recovery Act for the fourth quarter of 2010.

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