The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

August 11, 2010
Inspector: State slow to spend $25 million in stimulus funds

Only 1 percent of federal stimulus dollars earmarked for "greening" state buildings in California has been spent, the state's stimulus watchdog said Wednesday.

"These projects improve the environment, position the State to appropriately serve as a role model, and most importantly, create desperately needed jobs in the private sector," wrote California Inspector General Laura Chick in a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So far, Chick said, the Department of General Services has spent $121,788 in stimulus funds to make state buildings more environment-friendly. It's been almost a year since the funds were allocated.

The Department of General Services told Chick it has hit myriad roadblocks, including the possibility of contractor liens, while trying to spend the $25 million in stimulus funds.

"While DGS has offered up a myriad of unacceptable excuses for their slow pace and assured me they will meet the ARRA deadline of June 2012 for expenditures, I am writing you to say that this is not good enough," Chick said in her letter to the governor.

Update: In an email to The Bee, DGS Acting Deputy Director Eric Lamoureux says, "In less than a year since DGS got authority to spend these ARRA funds, DGS has made considerable progress laying the groundwork for this project. We have begun work to retrofit four large state office buildings in Sacramento. We have brought a contractor on board that since March has conducted 80 energy audits in state buildings; the first step toward permanent retrofit work.

"We now have pending agreements for future work in other state buildings; agreements that cannot be executed without a state budget. Additionally, we have state departments that want to participate in the loan program to retrofit their buildings, but those departments won't act without a budget.

"DGS is committed to this project and fully intends to spend these ARRA funds by next year's deadline. Unfortunately, we cannot move forward now on future retrofit work until the legislature approves a budget."

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