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Pennsylvania

Review raps 2 state agencies for oversight of home heating programs

Stephen Huba
| Wednesday, July 11, 2018, 2:55 p.m.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale discusses the release of the four-year audit “Protection from the Cold” on Tuesday.
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale discusses the release of the four-year audit “Protection from the Cold” on Tuesday.

A four-year review of two energy conservation and assistance programs found that the state failed to spend $5.4 million of federal funding that potentially could have helped 527 families.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s performance audit covered the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which administers the federal Weatherization Assistance Program, and the state Department of Human Services, which administers the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

The weatherization program helps low-income families reduce energy costs by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while LIHEAP helps families pay their heating bills.

Results of the two audits are combined in a 90-page report, “Protection from the Cold,” that includes one finding and three recommendations for LIHEAP, along with three findings and 20 recommendations to improve the weatherization assistance program.

“What we found are two state agencies with very different approaches to administering these vital federal programs designed to help low-income families survive Pennsylvania winters,” DePasquale said.

“While DHS made significant improvements in LIHEAP based on previous audits, we found continued problems with DCED’s weatherization service waiting list dating back to 2001 that were called out in previous audits as far back as 2007,” he said.

In addition to recommendations for each agency, the report calls on Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly to pass a law requiring all federal funding for the programs to be released to the state agencies by July 1 of each year.

“In the event of a budget impasse, our most vulnerable residents would not have to risk harm while elected officials are sitting in air-conditioned, heated state office buildings,” DePasquale said.

The audit report is available online at www.paauditor.gov .

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