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Time To Get Secretary Chu Under Oath

New York Times:

Inspector Faults Energy Dept. Over Loan Program

WASHINGTON — Poor record-keeping by the Energy Department has made it difficult for managers to document how decisions were reached in its $71 billion loan guarantee program, the department’s inspector general said in an audit released on Monday.

By the end of last year, the department had made eight loan guarantees totaling $3.9 billion and made conditional commitments for another $12 billion under the program, which was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, during the Bush administration. The first loan offer did not come through until March 2009, after President Obama had taken office and the program had received more money under the stimulus act.

The new audit examined 18 loans or conditional loan commitments and found that for three, no information had been placed in the department’s central archives. Only limited data was kept for 12, said the report from the inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman.

The report did not identify the projects that fell into either category or judge the quality of any of the loan decisions. But it warned that poor record-keeping “leaves the department open to criticism that it may have exposed the taxpayers to unacceptable risks associated with these borrowers.”

The guarantees have gone to solar companies, battery companies and other ventures with clean energy technologies that are too untried to qualify for ordinary commercial financing.

Officials in the loan guarantee program, a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s energy policy, told auditors that they based their loan decisions “on the professional judgment of experienced staff,” the report said. But many of the decisions “resulted from informal deliberations or were documented in e-mails that were not maintained,” it added.

The rest here.

Greg Pollowitz

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Time To Get Secretary Chu Under Oath

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