White House Flickr

White House Flickr

Lack of oversight, non-compliance and a lax review process for the State Department’s global climate change programs have led the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to conclude that program data “cannot be consistently relied upon by decision-makers” and it cannot be ensured “that Federal funds were being spent in an appropriate manner.”

For example, OIG found that “[T]he Department was unable to address the funds transfer promptly or account for $600,000 in Department funds,” referring to “Economic Support Funds transferred to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).”

Based on oversight issues it identified in a 2012 audit, last week OIG released its “Compliance Followup Audit of Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) Administration and Oversight of Funds Dedicated to Address Global Climate Change.”

The State Department provided OES with $75 million in fiscal year 2013 for global climate change programs that aim “to cooperate globally on the development and deployment of key clean energy technologies,” as well as “to align global efforts to respond to the impacts of extreme weather and climate events.”

OIG’s original report found, however, that “OES did not fully implement the guidance for conducting [Data Quality Assessments] to help ensure that the data used in reporting programmatic results were complete, accurate, consistent, and supportable.”

The audit also revealed that “quarterly performance and/or financial reports had been submitted late for all seven grants reviewed during the audit, often with no followup procedures having been performed by the program office.”

Additionally, OIG “was unable to fully substantiate the performance and financial reports for the five climate change interagency acquisition agreements sampled,” as the recipients had not “filed the required reports in a timely manner.”

“This goes to show that science should be employed as one tool to guide public policy decisions, but the science and data should not be manipulated to meet a political agenda in any case, especially when lack of oversight leaves data vulnerable to manipulation,” Heritage Foundation Fellow Nick Loris said.

OIG noted that the bureau “was making progress in addressing the administration and oversight deficiencies . . . and was implementing the corrective actions recommended.” Although the $600,000 funds discrepancy was not resolved, according to the report, “OES will continue to document the results of accounting” for the sum.

This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.