Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy
A recent audit of the 2013-2014 Obama Administration Department of Energy by the department’s Inspector General shone a spotlight on the conference budget. Â What the resulting report exposed should make any budget-minded, Democratic hawks out there blush.
$21 million dollars was spent on over 300 conferences during a sixteen month span. Â Among the expenditures listed for these events were golf tournaments, cruise dinners, and SuperBowl parties. Â In addition, at least one conference cost the department $63,000 with $15,000 in rental fees for a hotel conference center when a department building with comparable meeting space was unused in the vicinity. Â The reason the department went off the reservation, as it were, for the conference?
â€œThe justification for using a nonfederal facility was because the departmentâ€™s headquarters site was â€˜not conducive to an efficientÂ flow of conversation and development of concepts,â€™â€ the report reads.
Sure. Â That’s why so many company retreats are held somewhere other than the office. Â However, that’s in private industry, not government work.
The Washington Times requested comments from the department, and did not receive any. Â The story on this issue quoted the report:
â€œOur review also identified conference information regarding social eventsÂ that in our view could lead to negative public perceptions. Existing guidance notes that participation in any associated social events should be limited and restrained to the greatest degree practicable to avoid the appearance of impropriety,â€ the inspector general said in the report.
â€œDespite this admonition, we found that attendance at some conferences included associated social events.”
Of course, within the report, the officials interviewed claimed that the findings were misleading as so many of the events were sponsored or co-sponsored, and that was not reflected in the documents.
The report went on to say that Energy Department officials claim improper records make itÂ appear as if the department fully paid for such activities, when in reality it did not. Officials told the inspector general that the banquets, parties and other after-work functions should be listed as â€œco-sponsoredâ€ by the department or â€œnot sponsored at all.â€
So, are they also admitting to bad record keeping? Â Doesn’t matter. Â The Department of Energy, far from being efficient as they insist all American consumer products be, is not an engine for financial conservation. Â Actually, given the Obama Administration’s track record on energy matters, it actually reflects the grandiose vision of the green energy movement they foment.