The California State Auditor wants to know where the stimulus money went.
In testimony before the Legislature last week, auditor Elaine M. Howle focused her attention on the Employment Development Department and the state Energy Commission, one vast bureaucracy paying benefits to California's jobless and a smaller agency trying to create work for them. (As in new "green" jobs.)
The EDD, Howle said, "could not account for or track all of the Recovery Act funds it spent in fiscal year 2008-2009 under the Unemployment Insurance program," and that the state Energy Commission "is not yet prepared to administer Recovery Act funding, leaving the state at risk to lose millions of dollars."
The Energy Commission was doing a poor job of creating jobs:
In April 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy began awarding Recovery Act funds to the Energy Commission that totaled $226 million by September 2009. However, as of Nov. 16, 2009, the Energy Commission had approved only $51 million for energy services and contracted for only $40 million, $25 million to the Department of General Services and $15 million to the Employment Development Department. The funds from these two contracts will be used to issue loans to state departments and agencies to retrofit state buildings to make them more energy efficient and to provide job skills training for workers in the areas of energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy.
The findings are summarized in a PDF of the auditor's testimony in front of the state's Joint Legislative Audit Committee.
The auditor indicated that EDD could identify the $471.9 million of federal recovery money it spent to increase unemployment checks by $25 per week for recipients, since that money went through a program exclusively funded with recovery money. But EDD administrators could not identify how much of the approximately $4 billion spent to provide unemployed workers with additional weeks of benefits was paid for with stimulus funds.
An audit of the state's energy program administered by the California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, paints a picture of the Energy Commission as overwhelmed with administering $226 million in federal funds. In 2008, the commission oversaw the use of $3 million in federal funds, and does not appear prepared to deal with the large infusion of recovery cash.
"We identified several areas in which the Energy Commission's existing internal controls are not adequate. For example, it could not demonstrate that its controls are sufficient to mitigate and minimize the risk of fraud, waste, and abuse, and to effectively monitor sub-recipients' use of the Recovery Act funds."