Auditor should look into fraud in program

When Congress approved President Barack Obama’s $787 billion “stimulus” package in 2009, we worried it would be an open invitation to fraud and waste. State “weatherization” programs would be prime targets, we suggested.

We were right, as revelations of waste and fraud in weatherization projects in several states confirm.

Last month, the Ohio Inspector General’s office reported the state’s weatherization program was handled in an incredibly sloppy manner. Housing units were listed with the wrong street names or numbers. ZIP codes were entered incorrectly. Nonexistent Social Security numbers were recorded to identify recipients of weatherization assistance.

The new report comes on top of one in 2011 that revealed the state did not perform enough inspections of weatherization projects to ensure those paid for the work actually did it.

Ohio received $266 million in stimulus funds for the weatherization program. The money was doled out to agencies and organizations throughout the state and, too often, they were trusted – without much oversight – to spend it properly.

The inspector general’s report went to the U.S. Department of Energy and state Auditor Dave Yost. The Obama administration is more interested in claiming the stimulus program created jobs than in investigating it. That leaves the followup to Yost, who should look into whether wrongdoing occurred.