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Policy

How DOE Fared With Stimulus Spending

by Jeff Johnson
December 5, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 49

The House Science Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight is examining how the $41 billion in science-related funding from President Barack Obama’s stimulus act was spent. According to a panel of federal inspectors general speaking at a subcommittee hearing held last week, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the national labs did better in using and tracking their stimulus money than did states or other entities involved in disbursing the funds. DOE programs received $35.9 billion under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, and DOE was in many cases overwhelmed with the need to quickly allocate, oversee, and monitor the funding, said DOE Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman. For example, he noted, literally thousands of jurisdictions were involved in the funding programs that provided money to communities and states for weatherization and energy efficiency improvements or to colleges and universities for science activities. When Friedman and others speaking at the hearing were quizzed by members of Congress about whether the program created jobs, the inspectors general were unable to provide hard numbers. They underscored the difficulty of even determining which jobs were created by the deluge of spending. While some federal agencies have spent nearly all their funds, DOE has all its funds allocated but spent only 43%, Friedman noted.

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