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Audit: Taxpayer dollars given to African drummers, media group

The Energy Department’s inspector general has issued a report slamming the District of Columbia’s environmental bureaucracy for grants given to various non-profit organizations, including $630,000 to an African drummer group.

The inspector general’s audit said that the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) “failed to recognize that these entities lacked the experience and track record to be successful” when awarding taxpayer dollars to the African Heritage Dancers and Drummers and Prosperity Media Enterprise.

Prosperity Media Enterprises (PME) is a Washington, D.C.-based group that “make[s] media accessible to the underrepresented and nonprofit organizations.” The inspector general’s report notes that this company may have gotten taxpayer dollars due to ties with DOE officials.

“Specifically, DDOE’s selection of PME, which had no prior experience in energy efficiency retrofits, was based on PME’s partnering with a former DDOE employee who had previously supervised two of the DDOE selection panel members,” according to the inspector general’s office.

One of PME’s project managers was a former DDOE employee and actually drafted the group’s funding proposal to the D.C. bureaucracy. During that managers time in the D.C. government, they supervised “two members of the DDOE selection committee that oversaw decisions to award weatherization funds,” according to the audit.

“DDOE was unable to provide any evidence that it had considered whether the individual’s previous employment in DDOE and his role as a former supervisor of two of the selecting officials should have precluded him from working with the agency on these matters,” the report said.

DDOE was given federal stimulus dollars by the Obama administration to assist with retrofitting buildings to become more energy efficient. The DDOE and other D.C. government agencies were awarded about $5.5 million “to implement a district-wide strategy to improve energy efficiency of publicly-owned facilities.”

The Energy Department audit found that both PME and the African Heritage Dancers both misspent taxpayer dollars or failed to achieve project goals.

The IG inspected projects on which the groups had spent federal energy efficiency funds, and found they had both misspent money or failed to adequately accomplish objectives for which the funds were awarded.

The Washington Free Beacon notes that, “PME submitted invoices for 12 of its 33 DOE-funded projects when it had not actually performed the required work… Nineteen of its projects had failed PPOE inspections.”

DDOE did exercise some oversight on the matter, but it was too little too late, according to the inspector general’s audit.

“Without a proper control system in place, there is an increased risk for fraud, waste and abuse,” the inspector general’s audit concludes.

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