DOE Watchdog: ‘Shovel-Ready’ Not a ‘Realistic Expectation’

by Andrew Stiles

In testimony before a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee this morning, the Energy Department’s inspector general admitted what many have already come to believe — that the 2009 stimulus package was ill-conceived and poorly implemented. The Hill reports:

The Obama administration’s goal of stimulating the economy with “shovel-ready” energy projects was unrealistic, the Energy Department’s internal watchdog said Wednesday.

In testimony before a panel of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, DOE Inspector General Gregory Friedman said the department faced a series of logistical hurdles as it worked to dole out $35.2 billion in Recovery Act money for projects ranging from home weatherization to environmental cleanup.

“The concept of ‘shovel-ready’ projects was not realized, nor, as we now have confirmed, was it a realistic expectation,” Friedman said in written testimony.

President Obama has admitted that “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.” Of course, when your expectations are wildly optimistic, that tends to happen. On the other hand, if one is to believe that throwing billions of dollars at speculative “green” energy projects is a good idea, wild optimism comes in handy.

Though he has wisely avoided the term “shovel-ready” when touting his recent jobs bill — which contains about $450 billion in new stimulus over the next year, making it even larger, in annual terms, than the 2009 package ($800 billion over two years) — Obama continues to make the very same pitch. Congress must pass his jobs bill, he says, because “it will put people to work right now.” 

Friedman explained some of the problem encountered with the first stimulus:

“Our reviews have identified a fairly consistent pattern of delays in the pace at which Recovery Act funds had been spent by grant and other financial assistance recipients,” he said.

Implementing the provisions of the stimulus law, “placed an enormous strain” on the Energy Department as it struggled to coordinate with the “the diverse, complex, and often asymmetrical set of stakeholders which play an integral role in this process,” which included state and local officials, contractors and businesses, Friedman said.

“It’s been equated to attaching a garden hose to a fire hydrant,” he said.

It’s almost as if the president, and his entire economic “dream team,” don’t have a whole lot of hands-on business experience in the private sector, where jobs are actually created.

Also, it doesn’t help that the hundreds of federal regulations imposed and supported by this administration are, ironically, preventing it from implementing its own agenda.

Friedman said his office has opened more than 100 investigations into “various schemes, including the submission of false information, claims for unallowable or unauthorized expenses, and other improper uses of Recovery Act funds.”

More here.

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