May 22, 2012
The Department of Energy's Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Vehicle Grant Program Funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the Department of Energy's (Department) Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Vehicle Grant Program (Clean Cities Program) received nearly $300 million, or 30 times its Fiscal Year 2009 funding of approximately $10 million. From this amount, the Department awarded grants ranging from $5 million to $15 million to 25 recipients, including Clean Cities coalitions and other entities that partnered with coalitions. Clean Cities coalitions are volunteer groups that join with public and private sector organizations to promote alternative and renewable fuels, fuel economy measures and new technologies.
Our review disclosed that the Department had followed established procedures for the solicitation, merit review and selection of the Clean Cities projects. However, the Department had not always effectively managed the use of Recovery Act funding and other post-award aspects of the Clean Cities Program. In our review of seven recipients, we found that the Department had inappropriately: 1) reimbursed a recipient about $1.5 million for costs incurred even though the costs were not substantiated, and approved $615,000 in unsubstantiated cost-share contributions; 2) paid one recipient $250,000 for a down payment on an alternative-fueling station that had been invoiced 3 months prior to the grant's authorized spending date of July 2009; 3) approved a claim for $164,000 in cost-share contributions even though the recipient lacked documentation supporting the reasonableness of costs; and, 4) allowed three recipients to award almost $20 million without documenting their decisions to award contracts and/or identifying potential conflicts of interest as required by Federal procurement regulations. In total, we questioned about $5 million in direct payments to recipients and nearly $2 million cost- share contributions claimed by recipients.