EERE is a learning organization, committed to continuous improvement, and we've worked hard to create an environment that increases our capacity for innovation and improvement. In keeping with this commitment, one of the factors which informed EERE’s monitoring framework is past audit findings, and we continue to implement lessons learned to strengthen our processes.
With the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) have experienced an increase in oversight from the DOE-Office of Inspector General(OIG), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and independent auditing entities.
We continue to coordinate with our risk mitigation team on the process and implementation of monitoring. Through these audits and reviews, we’ve found a number of common themes and issues that we’ve addressed head-on by making programmatic changes.
- One of the common issues identified was inadequate oversight monitoring activities. EERE has responded by strengthening monitoring activities to include increased communications, trainings, and guidance.
EERE centralized the collection and reporting of monitoring data with the creation of two systems:
1. PAGE- the Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program’s (WIP) grant performance management system
2. IMPACT- Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment (RDD&D) activities’ new Internet-based monitoring central repository
- Another common observation was infrequent Project Officer (PO) monitoring visits, and EERE is now increasing the frequency at which POs visit state grantees/recipients by defining schedules and tracking.
- Initially, incomplete monitoring schedules and plans were observed, which EERE resolved by developing new monitoring plans and a formulized schedule for grantee/recipient visits.
EERE developed two distinct monitoring plans for POs. Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs (WIP) published a Monitoring Plan for the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), State Energy Program (SEP), and Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program (EECBG) in August 2009 and a second version in March 2010.
A separate monitoring plan for RDD&D activities was approved in August 2010. Monitoring plans are seen as a “best practice” for management oversight of performance monitoring by the DOE Office of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Inspector OIG.
WIP monitoring activities compliant with the Monitoring Plan began in October 2009, and monitoring onsite visits accelerated from February through September 2010.
- Insufficient Departmental guidance to state grantees and/or recipients was also identified as an issue. EERE is continually developing and issuing guidance to state grantees/recipients, as well as increasing the amount of communication between POs and state personnel on program requirements
- A lack of resources to support the increased work load related to Recovery Act activities was observed, which EERE addressed by hiring additional Federal and contractor personnel to support DOE staff in carrying out the requirements of the Recovery Act.
- Unidentified allowable costs were commonly identified and EERE is developing an internal policy to provide guidelines in the proper recording of contributions.
- Lack of programmatic and financial internal controls was another common issue observed. EERE is implementing internal controls and ensuring they are being adhered to by developing policies and procedures and distributing them to all budgetary staff. EERE is also updating A-133 monitoring procedures.
Monitoring Activities to Date: During Fiscal Year 2010, almost 6,000 monitoring activities occurred. Twelve thousand monitoring activities are scheduled for Fiscal Year 2011.
Please see the information sheet found on the EERE Field Operations Web Page for more information.