On Thursday, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas and Energy Subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Weber sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm regarding the Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Programs Office.
Despite being plagued with problems, the Loan Program Office has been given $15.8 billion in new funding for the coming years, which is more than 400 times as much as its FY2022 budget. Additionally, Democrats recently passed a law to give DOE an additional $310 billion in loan authority, which is nearly eight times the amount available previously. In addition to these significant funding increases, the Loan Program Office’s authority has grown, and Democrats have created new programs within the office.
This massive government expansion is being given to a program which the Government Accountability Office has criticized for preferential treatment for certain applicants and lack of sufficient expertise. The Department’s own Inspector General also noted the Loan Program Office’s lack of accountability and transparency and the presence of potential conflicts of interest and undue influence.
“This unprecedented expansion raises serious concerns about LPO’s ability to dramatically scale up its work in an efficient and responsible manner, given past LPO program problems and failures,” Lucas and Weber wrote. “We are concerned about LPO’s ability to manage its programs and make sound investments with federal funds, given past shortcomings and mismanagement.”
Lucas and Weber noted the Committee’s history of overseeing the Loan Program Office and requested detailed information from the Department of Energy on the troubled program.
“As a result of recent expansions of LPO’s programming, the major funding boost for this office, and the potential risk to the taxpayers associated with its activities, the Republican Members of the Committee intend to conduct robust oversight of LPO in the coming months,” Lucas and Weber concluded.
The full letter is available here.