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Stimulus funds in California: Supervise if you’re going to weatherize

The California Inspector General’s office says a contractor hired to weatherize homes, and paid for by federal stimulus funds, overbilled the state agency overseeing the money by $34,803, Timothy Sandoval of CaliforniaWatch reports.

The report also notes that workers and supervisors performing weatherization renovations on homes have not been adequately trained, potentially leading to the work being improperly done, or not up to code.

In a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Inspector General Laura Chick urged the governor to order work to stop until the contractor, Campesinos Unidos, certifies that its workers have been fully trained.

The company claims to have spent nearly $740,000 of the $2.6 million it was awarded. The amount itself is only a fraction of the $185 million California will receive for home weatherization projects. Officials found what they termed unacceptable accounting practices in the company’s books. The report also found that the firm under-reported how much it spent on a project to weatherize facilities used by the California Conservation Corps, a state agency, by $45,300.

While substandard work and the potential mismanagement of $34,803 is significant and disheartening, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that officials caught and hopefully will repair the problems. Besides, even if the full amount was squandered, it represents 1.3 percent of the company’s full award. Compare that rate to the gulf between estimates and an invoice on a typical kitchen remodel.


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