Energy Conservation in the Federal Government

Gao ID: 116827 October 23, 1981

The Federal Government has a an opportunity to significantly reduce its expenditures by conserving energy. It is the Nation's largest single energy consumer. Unfortunately, Federal energy consumption is on the rise. Identifying cost effective conservation measures nationwide and implementing corrective actions could result in substantial savings. Many of the legislative and Executive order mandates which direct and support an aggressive Federal Government in-house energy conservation effort are not being effectively met. The overall 10-year plan for Federal buildings is still not complete. The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved only 2 plans of the individual 10-year plans which are required from each agency. The 656 Committee, representing 11 agencies responsible for virtually all Federal energy use, has not met since November 1980 and has no plans to meet. DOE has advised Congress that agency energy audit reports are extremely limited and suggested that the data be used with caution since they are inconsistent and in error. Federal efforts to conserve energy have not progressed satisfactorily because of insufficient commitment in the areas of organizational visibility, staffing, and management support. The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) office was redesignated a branch because of its relatively small budget and staff. DOE staffing resources allocated to FEMP are small, and there is an apparent lack of management support. Department of Defense (DOD) management support for conservation appears to be declining, as evidenced by the increases in DOD energy use. The General Services Administration (GSA) appears to have a more visible energy conservation organization and has established an Energy Conservation Division with overall responsibility for conservation management direction. However, the GSA progress in achieving legislative and Executive order requirements has been slow. While there are still many opportunities for saving energy in Federal buildings, some things are improving. While the GSA overall program is encouraging, GAO believes the strength and ability of GSA to meet already established requirements will depend upon some form of continued management support. Problems which GAO has previously identified in the Federal Government's in-house energy conservation program continue to exist.

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