President Obama's $5 billion stimulus injection into a decades-old program to help lower energy bills for millions of low-income families by retrofitting their homes to improve efficiency has been plagued by cases of mismanagement, waste and fraud in several states.
The most dramatic example can be found in Delaware, where "gross mismanagement and potential fraudulent activity" that federal auditors found last year could affect hundreds of homes, a senior administration official told FoxNews.com. The subsequent repairs and inspections reportedly will cost the state a significant chunk of the $7.5 million remaining from $13.7 million of stimulus it received in 2009.
Delaware is the only state where the weatherization program has been suspended, but problems have surfaced in other states, including Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia.
"It's a complete cesspool of waste," Leslie Paige, vice president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told FoxNews.com. "When it's over, we will never know how much went down the tube. They cannot track the money. By the time they get to it, a lot of the money will be gone."
The Delaware News Journal reported last week that much of the costs for the low-income housing program stemmed from paying contractors to do simple, inexpensive fixes -- like insulating attics or sealing gaps -- but who instead went the path of replacing furnaces, windows and doors, all at a much greater cost. Much of the work was authorized by an administrator and a contractor, neither of whom is still employed with the state program, the newspaper reported.
"The cash grab that went on was just amazing," Allen Luzak, a weatherization expert with the Delaware Energy Office told the newspaper.
So far, only 689 homes have been retrofitted while roughly 6,000 families are on the waiting list for help. The attorney general's office has been investigating the program for the past year but hasn't filed criminal charges yet, spokesman Jason Miller told the newspaper.