By Michael Sandoval ~
The Colorado Energy Office (CEO) misspent millions in stimulus funds and could not account for a variety of other financial statements, according to a new audit from the Colorado state auditor.
The CEO, charged with administering energy funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a host of other energy initiatives, “was unable to demonstrate that $252 million spent over the past six years was spent cost-effectively,” the report concluded. More than half of that amount, roughly $144 million, came from Recovery stimulus monies distributed between the 2009–2012 fiscal years (FY).
The audit found that the CEO did not calculate or maintain annual budgets for any of the 34 programs it administered since FY 2007. “As a result, CEO could not determine the total cost or the total amount spent for any of its programs,” the audit stated.
Numerous other discrepancies, missing financial information, and a lack of documentation also plagued the state agency, according to the audit.
Of the eight programs reviewed in-depth, as many as three failed to have identifiable goals or lacked information on whether the goals, if any, were actually achieved.
Twenty of 22 contracts administered by the agency contained incorrect or missing information in the state contract database, with six missing performance elements and another 13 missing contractor progress reports. Both elements are required by the state.
The audit also discovered that as many as 16 travel and other expenditures “lacked appropriate approval and justification documentation.” This included a line item for a $25,000 expenditure listed only as “2008 Membership.”
The CEO also paid $1,500 for training for an ex-employee after that employee had been terminated.
Established in 1977 as the Office of Energy Conservation, the agency administers federal block grants, the Weatherization Assistance Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program, and a variety of other federal and state energy initiatives. Those responsibilities were expanded under the administration of former Democratic Governor Bill Ritter to include advancing renewable energy and efficiency programs.
At the height of the stimulus funding, the CEO budget expanded from $26.7 million in FY 2007 to nearly $82 million in FY 2011.