You may have seen the Washington Post article from November 7th, "Painting a street green hasn't stimulated one new job"
While the article brings up valid points about the Weatherization Assistance Program, NASCSP has written a response, which can be seen below.
November 9, 2009
Dear Mr. MacGillis:
I read with great interest your article from November 7, 2009 titled “Painting a street green hasn’t stimulated one new job.” I am the Director of Weatherization Services for the National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP). NASCSP is an organization that provides many functions for State Weatherization Assistance Program managers, including maintaining a comprehensive program website (www.waptac.org) , communicating with and representing members on programmatic issues, and facilitating the exchange of programmatic and residential energy efficiency best practices.
Both state and local Weatherization Program managers are frustrated that the ramp up of the Recovery Act-funded Weatherization Program has not gone exactly as planned, but we are confident that we have overcome most obstacles have and now see a rapid increase in new jobs and units weatherized with the ARRA funds.
The major obstacle that faced Weatherization Program operators was the ARRA requirement that prevailing Davis Bacon-mandated wages had to be paid to all laborers performing work. Until passage of the Recovery Act, the Weatherization Program was exempt from Davis Bacon requirements.
The new Davis Bacon requirement stalled the hiring of new workers in the following ways:
• The Department of Labor did not determine that that Davis Bacon prevailing wages would in fact apply to the Weatherization Assistance Program, and that past waivers would not be valid until June 1, 2009;
• In early July, the Department of Labor determined that a new worker classification and new wage determination would be made for residential weatherization worker since none of the existing classifications were deemed appropriate for the scope of work performed by the program workers;
• The Department of Labor conducted surveys of all Weatherization Program providers and made new wage determinations for the new classification of Weatherization Worker for all counties in the United States, which was completed by the end of August;
• The Department of Energy had to develop specific contract language relating to Davis Bacon requirements for all Weatherization Program contracts;
• Payroll systems had to be revised to be weekly payrolls (most were every two weeks or bimonthly) to conform to Davis Bacon requirements.
Weatherization Program managers are well aware of the increased scrutiny inherent with Recovery Act funds, and are working diligently to insure both proper accountability and transparency. While there is a great need and pressure to move quickly, there is also a sense of caution to make sure that funds are spent wisely and there are no future audit questions. Now that the major obstacles, such as the Davis Bacon requirements, have been worked out, we expect the Weatherization Program to be back on target towards meeting Recovery Act objectives in the very near future.
I would be happy to provide you with any additional information and serve as a future resource to you for information concerning the Weatherization Assistance Program.
Director of Weatherization Services
National Association for State Community Services Programs