A February audit of Connecticut’s energy efficiency and conservation programs found job data “was inaccurate and unsupported.”

Auditors examined data from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and  Environmental Protection and released their findings in February.

The audit focused on DEEP’s implementation of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants from Sept. 14, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2011.

The EECBG program was designed to reduce emissions and energy usage, and to promote conservation and energy efficiency.

These federal grants are funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“Because one of the goals of the Recovery Act is job creation, a failure to ensure accurate reporting of such jobs could lead to erroneous conclusions on the performance of the Recovery Act,” auditors said.

Designed to boost the nation’s ailing economy, the act allocated a total of $787 billion for tax cuts, entitlement programs and federal contracts, grants and loans.

Of this amount, $3.2 billion was appropriated for EECBG. The U.S Department of Energy distributed this pot of money to states, counties, cities and Indian tribes throughout the U.S.

The Energy Department sent a total of $24.5 million in EECBG funding to Connecticut. Direct grants to large municipalities and Indian tribes added up to $14.9 million.

The remaining $9.6 million went to the state, which between September 2009 through September 2012, distributed the money to 142 towns in the form of indirect grants.

According to auditors, DEEP failed to require sub-grantees to provide proper supporting documents in order to justify reports on jobs created and retained.

Of the 16 sub-grantees reviewed, six could not support the number of jobs reported, five provided DEEP with inaccurate information for the quarter, four did not maintain proper job data and one misreported a job.

The agency also reported 1.235 jobs for two sub-grantees, even though the sub-grantees reported no jobs.

Auditors blamed this error on the agency’s reliance on a “reasonableness test” and its inability to require sub-grantees to justify their estimates.

As a result of this error, auditors see an increased risk that agency numbers reported in other quarters may also be inaccurate.

The ARRA mandates that all grant recipients submit quarterly reports that outline projects, activities, and any jobs created and retained.

DEEP responded to the claim stating that, “given limited resources, it relied on the sub-grantees for the determination of jobs created and retained” and that it “believed the sub-grantees understood the methodology for calculating and reporting jobs created and retained.”

In their recommendation, auditors suggested that the agency require proper, previous-quarter documentation be released by sub-grantees and determine whether any job data released in the past would require corrections.

DEEP said it planned to confirm the job estimates by sending a “post-grant award closeout letter” to each recipient, but disagreed with auditors, maintaining that the quality controls they put in place were consistent with Recovery Act guidance.

In response, auditors stated that if DEEP needed to justify its job estimates they would not be prepared to do so because they failed to demand proper documentation from sub-grantees.  “The Agency was unaware of the reporting errors identified and thus, could not make necessary corrections as required,” they added.

Auditors also stated that DEEP’s response failed to adequately address the auditor recommendations for requiring supporting documentation, verifying accurate job calculations and determining the need for corrections to previous data.

Auditors also found that the state agency:

  • Failed to receive the certified payrolls required weekly to ensure timely review of sub-grantee contractors’ compliance with Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements.
  • Failed to ensure sub-grantees were compliant with federal requirements for recording and controlling fixed assets.