A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Inspector General (IG) report has criticized the agency for failing to adequately oversee the financial activity of recipients of $120 million in solar technology grants. Under the solar-energy grant program, DOE entered into partnerships with 12 for-profit recipients and has distributed $120 million of the program’s $147 million budget.

According to the report, DOE failed to obtain or review independent audits of the grant recipients and did not establish a process to track, collect, review, and follow-up on audits required by federal regulation (10 C.F.R. 600.316). The report attributes part of the problem to insufficient guidance with criteria for oversight of for-profit companies receiving federal assistance. The report recommends that DOE officials (i) clarify the financial reporting requirements in the program’s cooperative agreements, (ii) obtain the required audits, (iii) develop a system to track the audits, and (iv) update its financial assistance guidance.