oversight

DOE Loan Guarantees: Further Actions Are Needed to Improve Tracking and Review of Applications

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-03-12.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States Government Accountability Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Committees




March 2012
             DOE LOAN
             GUARANTEES
             Further Actions Are
             Needed to Improve
             Tracking and Review
             of Applications




GAO-12-157
                                           March 2012


                                           DOE LOAN GUARANTEES
                                           Further Actions Are Needed to Improve Tracking
                                           and Review of Applications
Highlights of GAO-12-157, a report to
congressional committees




Why GAO Did This Study                     What GAO Found
The Department of Energy’s (DOE)           The Department of Energy (DOE) has made $15 billion in loan guarantees and
Loan Guarantee Program (LGP) was           conditionally committed to an additional $15 billion, but the program does not
created by section 1703 of the Energy      have the consolidated data on application status needed to facilitate efficient
Policy Act of 2005 to guarantee loans      management and program oversight. For the 460 applications to the Loan
for innovative energy projects.            Guarantee Program (LGP), DOE has made loan guarantees for 7 percent and
Currently, DOE is authorized to make       committed to an additional 2 percent. The time the LGP took to review loan
up to $34 billion in section 1703 loan     applications decreased over the course of the program, according to GAO’s
guarantees. In February 2009, the          analysis of LGP data. However, when GAO requested data from the LGP on the
American Recovery and Reinvestment
                                           status of these applications, the LGP did not have consolidated data readily
Act added section 1705, making
                                           available and had to assemble these data over several months from various
certain commercial technologies that
could start construction by September
                                           sources. Without consolidated data on applicants, LGP managers do not have
30, 2011, eligible for loan guarantees.    readily accessible information that would facilitate more efficient program
It provided $6 billion in appropriations   management, and LGP staff may not be able to identify weaknesses, if any, in
that were later reduced by transfer and    the program’s application review process and approval procedures. Furthermore,
rescission to $2.5 billion. The funds      because it took months to assemble the data required for GAO’s review, it is also
could cover DOE’s costs for an             clear that the data were not readily available to conduct timely oversight of the
estimated $18 billion in additional loan   program. LGP officials have acknowledged the need for a consolidated system
guarantees. GAO has an ongoing             and said that the program has begun developing a comprehensive business
mandate to review the program’s            management system that could also be used to track the status of LGP
implementation. Because of concerns        applications. However, the LGP has not committed to a timetable to fully
raised in prior work, GAO assessed (1)     implement this system.
the status of the applications to the
LGP and (2) for loans that the LGP has     The LGP adhered to most of its established process for reviewing applications,
committed to, or made, the extent to       but its actual process differed from its established process at least once on 11 of
which the program has adhered to its       the 13 applications GAO reviewed. Private lenders who finance energy projects
process for reviewing applications.        that GAO interviewed found that the LGP’s established review process was
GAO analyzed relevant legislation,         generally as stringent as or more stringent than their own. However, GAO found
regulations, and guidance; prior audits;   that the reviews that the LGP conducted sometimes differed from its established
and LGP data, documents, and               process in that, for example, actual reviews skipped applicable review steps. In
applications. GAO also interviewed         other cases, GAO could not determine whether the LGP had performed some
DOE officials and private lenders with     established review steps because of poor documentation. Omitting or poorly
experience in energy project lending.      documenting reviews reduces the LGP’s assurance that it has treated applicants
                                           consistently and equitably and, in some cases, may affect the LGP’s ability to
What GAO Recommends                        fully assess and mitigate project risks. Furthermore, the absence of adequate
GAO recommends that the Secretary          documentation may make it difficult for DOE to defend its decisions on loan
of Energy establish a timetable for, and   guarantees as sound and fair if it is questioned about the justification for and
fully implement, a consolidated system     equity of those decisions. One cause of the differences between established and
to provide information on LGP              actual processes was that, according to LGP staff, they were following
applications and reviews and regularly     procedures that had been revised but were not yet updated in the credit policies
update program policies and                and procedures manual, which governs much of the LGP’s established review
procedures. DOE disagreed with the         process. In particular, the version of the manual in use at the time of GAO’s
first of GAO’s three recommendations;      review was dated March 5, 2009, even though the manual states it was meant to
GAO continues to believe that a            be updated at least annually, and more frequently as needed. The updated
consolidated system would enhance          manual dated October 6, 2011, addresses many of the differences GAO
program management.
                                           identified. Officials also demonstrated that LGP had taken steps to address the
View GAO-12-157. For more information,     documentation issues by beginning to implement its new document management
contact Frank Rusco at (202) 512-3841 or   system. However, by the close of GAO’s review, LGP could not provide sufficient
ruscof@gao.gov.
                                           documentation to resolve the issues identified in the review.
                                                                                   United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                         1
                       Background                                                              4
                       DOE Has Made $15.1 Billion in Loan Guarantees but Does Not
                         Maintain Consolidated Data on Status of Applications                 11
                       The LGP Did Not Always Adhere to Its Review Process, Which May
                         Pose Risks and Result in Inconsistent Treatment                      21
                       Conclusions                                                            30
                       Recommendations for Executive Action                                   32
                       Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                     32

Appendix I             Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                     34



Appendix II            Tables of Loan Guarantees Conditionally Committed or Closed            37



Appendix III           Key Tasks in the LGP’s Review and Approval Process for Loan
                       Guarantee Applications                                                 40



Appendix IV            Comments from the Department of Energy                                 45



Appendix V             GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                  51



Related GAO Products                                                                          52



Tables
                       Table 1: DOE Solicitations for Applications to the LGP                  7
                       Table 2: Number of Applications, Median and Total Loan
                                Guarantees Requested, Total Conditionally Committed
                                Loan Guarantees, and Total Closed Loan Guarantees, by
                                Solicitation, through September 30, 2011                      12
                       Table 3: Number (and Percentage) of Applications in Each Review
                                Stage, by Solicitation, as of September 30, 2011              15



                       Page i                                      GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
          Table 4: Number of Applications and Median Number of Days
                   Elapsed During Each Review Stage and Overall, by
                   Solicitation                                                   16
          Table 5: LGP’s Adherence to Its Review Process for 13 Applications
                   with Closed or Conditionally Committed Loan Guarantees,
                   by Review Stage and Step                                       23
          Table 6: Documentation Deficiencies Identified During 13
                   Application Reviews                                            28
          Table 7: Section 1703 Applications Reaching Conditional
                   Commitment as of September 30, 2011, by Solicitation           37
          Table 8: Section 1705-Eligible Applications Reaching Conditional
                   Commitment as of September 30, 2011, by Solicitation           37
          Table 9: Section 1705-Eligible Applications Reaching Closing as of
                   September 30, 2011, By Solicitation                            38
          Table 10: Key Review and Approval Tasks for Loan Guarantee
                   Applications, by Review Stage                                  40


Figures
          Figure 1: Overview of LGP Review Process for Applications
                   through the Intake, Due Diligence, and Conditional
                   Commitment to Closing Stages                                    9
          Figure 2: Amount of Loan Guarantees Requested in 460
                   Applications by Energy Technology Category, as of July
                   29, 2011                                                       13




          Page ii                                      GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Abbreviations

CRB               Credit Review Board
DOE               Department of Energy
EERE              Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy
FIPP              Financial Institution Partnership Program
LGP               Loan Guarantee Program
LPO               Loan Programs Office
OMB               Office of Management and Budget




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Page iii                                                 GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   March 12, 2012

                                   The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
                                   Chair
                                   The Honorable Lamar Alexander
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
                                   Committee on Appropriations
                                   United States Senate

                                   The Honorable Rodney P. Frelinghuysen
                                   Chairman
                                   The Honorable Peter J. Visclosky
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development,
                                     and Related Agencies
                                   Committee on Appropriations
                                   House of Representatives

                                   The Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan guarantee program (LGP) is
                                   currently authorized to issue loan guarantees worth up to $34 billion for
                                   certain types of energy projects that need affordable financing. 1 Federal
                                   loan guarantee programs such as the LGP can help companies obtain
                                   such financing because the federal government agrees to reimburse the
                                   lender for the guaranteed amount if a borrower defaults. As directed by
                                   section 1703 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the LGP originally focused
                                   on projects that use new or significantly improved energy technologies
                                   and avoid, reduce, or sequester emissions of air pollutants or man-made
                                   greenhouse gases. In February 2009, Congress expanded the scope of
                                   the LGP in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act),
                                   by adding section 1705 to the Energy Policy Act, which provided funding
                                   and extended the program to include projects that use commercial energy
                                   technology that employs renewable energy systems, electric power
                                   transmission systems, or leading-edge biofuels that meet certain criteria.
                                   The LGP has issued nine calls for applications—known as solicitations—
                                   each of which covers particular types of energy technology.



                                   1
                                    The amount of authority does not include approximately $20 billion that expired when
                                   authority for a portion of the program expired on September 30, 2011.




                                   Page 1                                                 GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
According to DOE officials, the LGP is important to both develop new
energy technologies for commercial use and make some commercial
projects possible, thereby creating jobs and new energy supplies.
However, loan guarantee programs can also expose the government to
substantial financial risks. For example, a borrower could default on a
federally guaranteed loan, leaving taxpayers to pay for the loss. In the
past, we also found problems with federal loan guarantee programs that
occurred in part because agencies did not exercise sufficient due
diligence. Due diligence is the review process by which a lender identifies
and mitigates potential problems or risks with a project before the lender
makes a loan or loan guarantee. Recently, the filing of bankruptcy
petitions by two recipients of DOE loan guarantees have raised concerns
that DOE may not be sufficiently identifying and mitigating the risk of a
loan default.

GAO has an ongoing mandate under the 2007 Revised Continuing
Appropriations Resolution to review DOE’s execution of the LGP and to
report its findings to the House and Senate Committees on
Appropriations. This is the sixth time we have reported on this program. 2
We have raised concerns in our prior work about the limitations of the
portion of the program conducted under section 1703 in attracting
financially viable projects representing the full range of targeted
technologies. 3 In addition, we previously reported, among other things,
that the LGP treated applicants inconsistently and recommended that
DOE treat applicants consistently or clearly establish the conditions that
would warrant disparate treatment. 4 Because of questions regarding
inconsistent treatment of applicants and DOE’s review process that we
raised in the 2010 report, our objectives for this report were to determine
(1) the status of the applications to the LGP’s nine solicitations and (2) the
extent to which the LGP has adhered to its process for reviewing
applications for loans that the LGP has committed to or closed.




2
See our list of related products on the LGP at the end of this report.
3
 GAO, Department of Energy: New Loan Guarantee Program Should Complete Activities
Necessary for Effective and Accountable Program Management, GAO-08-750
(Washington, D.C.: July 7, 2008).
4
 GAO-08-750; GAO, Department of Energy: Further Actions Are Needed to Improve
DOE’s Ability to Evaluate and Implement the Loan Guarantee Program, GAO-10-627
(Washington, D.C.: July 12, 2010).




Page 2                                                   GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
To determine the status of applications to the LGP’s nine solicitations, we
reviewed DOE and LGP documents on the establishment and operation
of the program and analyzed the LGP’s available data on the applications
received and their current status. Because the LGP did not maintain
consolidated information on application status, it had to assemble data
from various sources for all of the applications as of September 30, 2011.
To assist in this effort, we tailored a data request to collect data on the
status of all 460 applications to the program in consultation with agency
officials. These data were to provide a current snapshot of the program by
solicitation and allow analysis of various characteristics. LGP staff familiar
with each solicitation completed the spreadsheets, and these
spreadsheets were reviewed by managers before they were forwarded to
GAO. We assessed the reliability of the data the LGP provided by
reviewing it, comparing it to other sources and following up with the
agency to clarify questions and inconsistencies, and obtain missing data.
Once the data were all collected, we found them to be sufficiently reliable
for our purposes. This process enabled us to develop up-to-date
programwide information on the status of applications. The LGP staff
updated its March 2011 applicant status data as of July 29, 2011, and we
obtained additional data on the conditional commitments and closings
made by the September 30, 2011, expiration of the section 1705 authority
for loan guarantees with a credit subsidy. In cases where multiple
applications were submitted for a single project, we considered each to
be a single application for purposes of this report. In addition, we met with
the LGP’s management and staff from each of the divisions involved with
the review process. To determine the extent to which the LGP has
adhered to its process for reviewing applications for loans that it has
committed to or closed, we identified the key steps in the review process
by analyzing the laws, regulations, policies, guidance, and solicitations for
the program. We verified these key steps in interviews with LGP officials.
We identified the 13 applications that had received conditional
commitments or had closed by December 31, 2010. 5 We then requested
documentation from the LGP of the key review steps it conducted for
selected applications. We initially requested this documentation for a



5
 Three additional applications had either reached conditional commitment or closed during
this period. We excluded these applications from our review because the LGP’s review
process for these applications was substantially different. A conditional commitment is a
commitment by DOE to issue a loan guarantee if the applicant satisfies specific
requirements. The Secretary of Energy has the discretion to cancel a conditional
commitment at any time for any reason prior to the issuance of a loan guarantee.




Page 3                                                 GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
             nonprobability sample of 6 applications representing a range of
             solicitations and project types. 6 We also collected more limited
             information on the 7 remaining applications to which DOE had
             conditionally committed to issue a loan guarantee by the end of calendar
             year 2010. For these 7, we reviewed certain key steps for which we found
             differences from the LGP’s established process during our review of the
             initial 6 applications. We did not evaluate the quality of the LGP’s
             analyses supporting the completion of these steps. The applications we
             reviewed were processed by the LGP under the policies and procedures
             that were in place through September 30, 2011. 7 We also interviewed
             seven private lenders with experience financing energy sector projects to
             gain insights on the comparability of the LGP and private sector review
             processes. A more detailed discussion of our objectives, scope, and
             methodology is presented in appendix I.

             We conducted this performance audit from September 2010 to February
             2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
             standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
             obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
             our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
             that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
             and conclusions based on our audit objectives.


             DOE’s LGP was designed to address the fundamental impediment for
Background   investors that stems from the high risks of clean energy projects,
             including technology risk—the risk that the new technology will not
             perform as expected—and execution risk—the risk that the borrower will
             not perform as expected. Companies can face obstacles in securing
             enough affordable financing to survive the “valley of death” between
             developing innovative technologies and commercializing them. Because
             the risks that lenders must assume to support new technologies can put
             private financing out of reach, companies may not be able to
             commercialize innovative technologies without the federal government’s



             6
              Because this was a nonprobability sample, we cannot generalize what we found to all
             applications, but we chose these applications to include a variety of project types and for
             different solicitations.
             7
              Department of Energy, Title XVII Of The Energy Policy Act Of 2005 Loan Guarantee
             Program, Credit Policies and Procedures (Washington, D.C., Mar. 5, 2009).




             Page 4                                                    GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
financial support. According to the DOE loan program’s Executive
Director, DOE loan guarantees lower the cost of capital for projects using
innovative energy technologies, making them more competitive with
conventional technologies and thus more attractive to lenders and equity
investors. Moreover, according to the DOE loan programs Executive
Director, the program takes advantage of DOE’s expertise in analyzing
the technical aspects of proposed projects, which can be difficult for
private sector lenders without that expertise.

Until February 2009, the LGP was working exclusively under section 1703
of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which authorized loan guarantees for
new or innovative energy technologies that had not yet been
commercialized. Congress had authorized DOE to guarantee
approximately $34 billion in section 1703 loans by fiscal year 2009, after
accounting for rescissions, but it did not appropriate funds to pay the
“credit subsidy costs” of these guarantees. For section 1703 loan
guarantees, each applicant was to pay the credit subsidy cost of its own
project. These costs are defined as the estimated long-term cost, in net
present value terms, over the entire period the loans are outstanding to
cover interest subsidies, defaults, and delinquencies (not including
administrative costs). Under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, the
credit subsidy cost for any guaranteed loan must be provided prior to a
loan guarantee commitment.

In past reports, we found several issues with the LGP’s implementation of
section 1703. For example, in our July 2008 report, we stated that risks
inherent to the program make it difficult for DOE to estimate credit
subsidy costs it charges to borrowers. 8 If DOE underestimates these
costs, taxpayers will ultimately bear the costs of defaults or other
shortfalls not covered by the borrowers’ payments into a cost-subsidy
pool that is to cover section 1703’s program-wide costs of default. In
addition, we reported that, to the extent that certain types of projects or
technologies are more likely than others to have fees that are too high to
remain economically viable, the projects that do accept guarantees may
be more heavily weighted toward lower-risk technologies and may not
represent the full range of technologies targeted by the section 1703
program.




8
GAO-08-750.




Page 5                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
In February 2009, the Recovery Act amended the Energy Policy Act of
2005, authorizing the LGP to guarantee loans under section 1705. This
section also provided $2.5 billion to pay applicants’ credit subsidy costs. 9
This credit subsidy funding was available only to projects that began
construction by September 30, 2011, among other requirements. 10 DOE
estimated that the funding would be sufficient to provide about $18 billion
in guarantees under section 1705. Section 1705 authorized guarantees
for commercial energy projects that employ renewable energy systems,
electric power transmission systems, or leading-edge biofuels that meet
certain criteria. Some of these are the same types of projects eligible
under section 1703, which authorizes guarantees only for projects that
use new or significantly improved technologies. 11 Consequently, many
projects that had applied under section 1703 became eligible to have their
credit subsidy costs paid under section 1705.




9
 Pub. L. No. 111-5, Div. A, Title IV (Feb. 17, 2009). Congress originally appropriated
nearly $6 billion to pay the credit subsidy costs of projects supported under section 1705,
with the limitation that funding to pay the credit subsidy costs of leading-edge biofuel
projects eligible under this section would not exceed $500 million. Congress later
authorized the President to transfer up to $2 billion of the nearly $6 billion to expand the
“Cash for Clunkers” program. Pub. L. No. 111-47 (Aug. 7, 2009). The $2 billion was
transferred to the Department of Transportation, leaving nearly $4 billion to cover credit
subsidy costs of projects supported under section 1705. On August 10, 2010, Pub. L. No.
111-226 rescinded an additional $1.5 billion from the loan guarantee appropriation to pay
for education-related jobs, Medicaid and other initiatives, further reducing funding
available to $2.5 billion.
10
  Other requirements include that the workers employed on the project, including
contractors or subcontractors, will be paid wages not less than prevailing on similar work
in the locality in accordance with the Davis-Bacon Act. The act limited loan guarantees
under section 1705 to the following categories of projects: (1) renewable energy systems,
including incremental hydropower, that generate electricity or thermal energy, and facilities
that manufacture related components; (2) electric power transmission systems, including
upgrading and reconductoring projects; and (3) leading-edge biofuel projects that will use
technologies performing at the pilot or demonstration scale that the Secretary determines
are likely to become commercial technologies and will produce transportation fuels that
substantially reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared with other
transportation fuels.
11
  New or significantly improved technology means a technology concerned with the
production, consumption, or transportation of energy and that is not a commercial
technology, and that has either: (1) only recently been developed, discovered, or learned;
or (2) involves or constitutes one or more meaningful and important improvements in
productivity or value, in comparison to commercial technologies in use in the United
States at the time the term sheet is issued.




Page 6                                                    GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Because authority for the section 1705 loan guarantees expired on
September 30, 2011, section 1703 is now the only remaining authority for
the LGP. In April 2011, Congress appropriated $170 million to pay credit
subsidy costs for section 1703 projects. Previously, these costs were to
be paid exclusively by the applicants and were not federally funded.
Congress also authorized DOE to extend eligibility under section 1703 to
certain projects that had applied under section 1705 but did not receive a
loan guarantee prior to the September 30, 2011, deadline. 12

DOE has issued nine calls for applications to the LGP. Each of these nine
“solicitations” has specified the energy technologies it targets and
provided criteria for the LGP to determine project eligibility and the
likelihood of applicants repaying their loans (see table 1).

Table 1: DOE Solicitations for Applications to the LGP

                              Date issued or       Description of eligible energy
Name of solicitation          updated              technology
Mixed 06                      8/8/06               All technologies except for nuclear
                                                   facilities and oil refineries.
Nuclear Front-End             6/30/08              Facilities for new uranium
                                                   enrichment capacity and
                                                   distribution.
Nuclear Power                 6/30/08              Nuclear power facilities.
Energy efficiency and         6/30/08              Innovative energy efficiency,
renewable energy or                                renewable energy, and advanced
EERE 08                                            energy transmission and
                                                   distribution technologies.
Fossil                        9/22/08              Coal-based power generation and
                                                   industrial gasification facilities that
                                                   incorporate carbon capture and
                                                   sequestration or other beneficial
                                                   uses of carbon and for advanced
                                                   coal gasification facilities.
Energy efficiency and         7/29/09              Innovating energy efficiency,
renewable energy or EERE                           renewable energy, and advanced
09                                                 energy transmission and
                                                   distribution technologies.
Transmission                  7/29/09              Electric power transmission
                                                   infrastructure investment projects.




12
  Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011, Pub. L No.
112-10.




Page 7                                                GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                              Date issued or   Description of eligible energy
 Name of solicitation         updated          technology
 Financial Institution        10/7/09          Renewable energy generation
 Partnership Program (FIPP)                    projects using commercial
                                               technology.
 Manufacturing                8/10/10          Manufacture of renewable energy
                                               systems and components using
                                               commercial technology.
Source: DOE.


To help ensure that that these criteria were applied consistently and that
each selected project provided a reasonable prospect of repayment, in
March 2009, the LGP issued a credit policies and procedures manual for
the program, outlining its policies and procedures for reviewing loan
guarantee applications. As shown in figure 1, this review process is
divided into three stages: intake, due diligence, and “conditional
commitment to closing.” We use the term “review process” to refer to the
entire process.




Page 8                                           GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Figure 1: Overview of LGP Review Process for Applications through the Intake, Due Diligence, and Conditional Commitment
to Closing Stages




                                        During the intake stage, the LGP assesses applications in a two-part
                                        process for most applicants. In part I, the LGP considers a project’s
                                        eligibility based on the requirements in the solicitation and relevant laws
                                        and regulations. Nuclear solicitation applications are also evaluated
                                        against programmatic, technical, and financial criteria during the part I
                                        review. Based on the LGP’s eligibility determination during part I review,
                                        qualifying applicants are invited to submit a part II application. Generally,
                                        LGP evaluates this application against programmatic, technical, and
                                        financial criteria to form a basis for ranking applications within each
                                        solicitation. 13 Based on these initial rankings, the LGP selects certain


                                        13
                                          Under the FIPP solicitation, applicants must apply to a private “lead lender,” which
                                        initially evaluates the proposed loan guarantee for credit approval and decides whether to
                                        apply to DOE for the loan guarantee.




                                        Page 9                                                  GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
applications for the due diligence stage. During due diligence, the LGP
performs a detailed examination of the project’s financial, technical, legal,
and other qualifications to ensure that the LGP has identified and
mitigated any risks that might affect the applicant’s ability to repay the
loan guarantee. Key to identifying risks during due diligence are required
reports by independent consultants on the technical and legal aspects of
the project and others, such as marketing reports, that the LGP uses
when needed. The LGP also negotiates the terms of the loan guarantee
with the applicant during due diligence.

The proposed loan guarantee transaction is then submitted for review
and/or approval by the following entities:

•   DOE’s Credit Committee, consisting of senior executive service DOE
    officials, most of whom are not part of the LGP.

•   DOE’s Credit Review Board (CRB), which consists of senior-level
    officials such as the deputy and undersecretaries of Energy.

•   The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which reviews the
    LGP’s estimated credit subsidy range for each transaction.

•   Department of the Treasury.

•   The Secretary of Energy, who has final approval authority.

Following the Secretary’s approval, the LGP offers the applicant a
“conditional commitment” for a loan guarantee. If the applicant signs and
returns the conditional commitment offer with the required fee, the offer
becomes a conditional commitment, contingent on the applicant meeting
conditions prior to closing. During the conditional commitment to closing
stage, LGP officials and outside counsel prepare the final financing
documents and ensure that the applicant has met all conditions required
for closing, and the LGP obtains formal approval of the final credit subsidy
cost from OMB. Prior to closing, applications may be rejected by the LGP.
Similarly, applicants can withdraw at any point during the review process.
Once these steps have been completed, the LGP “closes” the loan
guarantee and, subject to the terms and conditions of the loan guarantee
agreement, begins to disburse funds to the project. For further detail on
the review process, see appendix III.




Page 10                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                             For 460 applications to the LGP from its nine solicitations, DOE has made
DOE Has Made $15.1           $15.1 billion in loan guarantees and conditionally committed to an
Billion in Loan              additional $15 billion, representing $30 billion of the $34 billion in loan
                             guarantees authorized for the LGP. 14 However, when we requested data
Guarantees but Does          from the LGP on the status of the applications to its nine solicitations, the
Not Maintain                 LGP did not have consolidated data readily available but had to assemble
Consolidated Data on         them from various sources.

Status of Applications
DOE Has Made $15.1           As of September 30, 2011, the LGP had received 460 applications and
Billion in Loan Guarantees   made (closed) $15.1 billion in loan guarantees in response to 30
and Committed to Another     applications (7 percent of all applications), all under section 1705. It had
                             not closed any guarantees under section 1703. In addition, the LGP had
$15 Billion                  conditionally committed another $15 billion for 10 more applications (2
                             percent of all applications)—4 under section 1705 and 6 under section
                             1703. The closed loan guarantees obligated $1.9 billion of the $2.5 billion
                             in credit subsidy appropriations funded by the Recovery Act for section
                             1705, leaving $600 million of the funds unused before the program
                             expired. For section 1703 credit subsidy costs, the $170 million that
                             Congress appropriated in April 2011 to pay such costs is available, but it
                             may not cover all such costs because the legislation makes the funds
                             available only for renewable energy or efficient end-use energy
                             technologies. 15 Applicants whose projects’ credit subsidy costs are not
                             covered by the appropriation must pay their own credit subsidy costs. To
                             date, credit subsidy costs for loan guarantees that DOE has closed have,
                             on average, been about 12.5 percent of the guaranteed loan amounts.

                             The median loan guarantee requested for all applications was $141
                             million. Applications for nuclear power projects requested significantly
                             larger loan amounts—a median of $7 billion—and requested the largest




                             14
                               The amount of authority does not include approximately $20 billion that expired when
                             authority for a portion of the program expired on September 30, 2011.
                             15
                               The legislation also made some section 1705 projects submitted to DOE by Feb. 24,
                             2011, eligible for these funds, but nuclear projects are not included among eligible
                             projects.




                             Page 11                                                GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                       total dollar amount by type of technology—$117 billion.16 Applications for
                                       energy efficiency and renewable energy solicitations requested the
                                       second-largest dollar amount—$74 billion. Table 2 provides further details
                                       on the applications by solicitation and the resulting closed loan
                                       guarantees and conditional commitments. Appendix II provides further
                                       details on the individual committed and closed loan guarantees.

Table 2: Number of Applications, Median and Total Loan Guarantees Requested, Total Conditionally Committed Loan
Guarantees, and Total Closed Loan Guarantees, by Solicitation, through September 30, 2011

Dollars in millions
                                       Number              Median loan                    Total loan           Total conditionally                  Total closed
                                             of             guarantee                     guarantee               committed loan                            loan
Solicitation, issue date           applications             requested                     requested                    guarantee                     guaranteea
Mixed 06, 8/8/06                            140                        $60b                  $31,018b                                $72e                    $1,203
Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy 08,
6/30/08c                                      68                        163                     21,265                               261e                      3,381
                                                                                                                                          e
Nuclear Front-End, 6/30/08                      2                     2,000                       4,000                           2,000                              0
                                                                                                                                          e
Nuclear Power, 6/30/08                        19                      6,969                   117,363                             8,326                              0
Fossil, 9/22/08                                 8                     2,072                     17,145                                    0                          0
Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy 09, 7/29/09                 168                        150                     52,915                             2,105                       5,601
Transmission, 7/29/09                         12                        660                     11,586                                    0                      343
Financial Institution
Partnership Program, 10/7/09                  37                        146                     11,057                             2,274                       4,516
Manufacturing, 8/10/10                          6                         98                      1,022                                   0                          0
Total                                        460                     $141d                  $267,372                          $15,038e                     $15,044
                                       Source: GAO analysis of DOE data provided as of July 29, 2011, and updated for new commitments or closings, as of September 30,
                                       2011.


                                       Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.
                                       a
                                        Fifteen of these guarantees went to projects that applied under section 1703 but were later deemed
                                       eligible for and received funding under section 1705.




                                       16
                                         The minimum loan guarantee requested for all applications was $0, and the maximum
                                       loan guarantee requested was $12 billion, both for nuclear power projects. The $0 loan
                                       guarantee request was for one portion of a jointly sponsored nuclear power project. The
                                       joint sponsor of the nuclear power project requested approximately $8 billion in loan
                                       guarantees.




                                       Page 12                                                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
b
 The median and total loan guarantee amounts reflect the reported loan amounts for 134 of the 140
Mixed 06 applications because DOE said 6 applicants did not specify the amount of their loan
guarantee request.

c
 This row includes four applications that LGP does not consider to be official submissions since the
applicants did not pay the application fee. However, we included these applications in our analysis
because the LGP included them in the application data they provided to us, and these applications
demonstrate the level of interest in the solicitation.

d
 This amount is the median loan guarantee amount requested across all solicitations. The minimum
loan guarantee requested for all applications was $0, and the maximum loan guarantee requested
was $12 billion, both for nuclear power projects.

e
 Of the $15 billion in committed loan guarantees, applications under the section 1703 authority to
these solicitations account for $10.4 billion or 71 percent. See appendix II for a list of these committed
loan guarantees.


For all 460 LGP applications submitted, figure 2 shows the total loan
guarantee amounts requested by type of energy technology.

Figure 2: Amount of Loan Guarantees Requested in 460 Applications by Energy
Technology Category, as of July 29, 2011




Page 13                                                           GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Note: For this analysis, we used simplified energy technology categories based on DOE’s data. The
figure omits one application for which the LGP did not report the type of energy technology employed
by the proposed project or the amount requested for the project. It also omits requests that DOE
listed as using “other” energy technology, which totaled about 0.01 percent of the amount requested.


Table 3 provides an overview, as of September 30, 2011, of the status of
the 460 loan guarantee applications that the LGP received in response to
its nine solicitations. Of the 460 applications, 66 were still in various
stages of the approval process (intake and due diligence), 40 had
received conditional commitment or were closed, and 354 had been
withdrawn or rejected. DOE documents list a wide range of reasons for
application withdrawals, including inability to submit application material in
a timely manner, inability to secure feedstock, project faced many
hurdles, applicant did not pursue project, and applicant switched to
another program. Solicitations that primarily targeted efficiency and
renewable energy received the most applications, while those targeting
nuclear front-end technologies (for the beginning of the nuclear fuel
cycle), manufacturing, and fossil fuels received the fewest. The rejection
rate was highest for applications submitted for two of the earlier
solicitations and much lower for DOE’s FIPP, 17 a more recent solicitation
involving applications sponsored by private financial institutions. Since we
began our review, two of the borrowers with closed loan guarantees have
declared bankruptcy—Solyndra, Inc., with a $535 million loan guarantee
for manufacturing cylindrical solar cells, and Beacon Power Corporation,
with a $43 million loan guarantee for an energy storage technology.




17
  FIPP refers to the federal loan guarantees for commercial technology renewable energy
generation projects under the DOE LGP solicitation number DE-FOA-0000166, dated
October 7, 2009. This solicitation is unique because it is the only one inviting private
lenders to share due diligence activities for identifying and mitigating risk and finance a
portion of total project costs.




Page 14                                                        GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Table 3: Number (and Percentage) of Applications in Each Review Stage, by Solicitation, as of September 30, 2011

                                                                 Number (percentage) of applications by stage
                                                                                                                    Guarantees
                                     Number of                                     Due          Conditional               made
Solicitation, issue date            applications               Intake        diligence         commitment              (closed) Withdrawn                   Rejected
Mixed 06, 8/8/06                               140                0(0)                3(2)                  1(1)                4(3)              8(6)        124(89)
                   a
EERE 08, 6/30/08                                 68               0(0)              7(10)                   2(3)              8(12)               6(9)          45(66)
Nuclear Front End, 6/30/08                        2               0(0)              1(50)                 1(50)                 0(0)              0(0)             0(0)
Nuclear Power, 6/30/08                           19              5(26)              4(21)                 3(16)                 0(0)            7(37)              0(0)
Fossil, 9/22/08                                   8               0(0)              4(50)                   0(0)                0(0)            3(38)            1(13)
EERE 09, 7/29/09                               168               12(7)            21(13)                    1(1)              10(6)            59(35)           65(39)
Transmission, 7/29/09                            12              2(17)                0(0)                  0(0)                1(8)            9(75)              0(0)
Financial Institution Partnership
Program (FIPP), 10/7/09                          37               0(0)              7(19)                   2(5)              7(19)            18(49)              3(8)
Manufacturing, 8/10/10                            6               0(0)                0(0)                  0(0)                0(0)            3(50)            3(50)
     b                                                                                                          c                    d
Total                                          460               19(4)            47(10)                 10(2)               30(7)          113( 25)          241(52)
                                          Source: GAO analysis of DOE data provided as of July 29, 2011 and updated for new commitments or closings as of September 30,
                                          2011.

                                          a
                                           This row includes four applications that the LGP does not consider to be official submissions since
                                          the applicants did not pay the application fee. However, we included these applications in our
                                          analysis because the LGP included them in the application data they provided to us, and these
                                          applications demonstrate the level of interest in the solicitation.
                                          b
                                              Percentage totals may not add to 100 due to rounding.
                                          c
                                           Four of these conditional commitments are under section 1705, and six are under section 1703.
                                          Many of the section 1703 applications have been in process since 2008 or before. See appendix II,
                                          tables 7 and 8.
                                          d
                                              All of these closed loan guarantees are under section 1705. See appendix II, table 9.

                                          The elapsed time for LGP to process loan applications generally
                                          decreased over the course of the program, according to LGP data. LGP
                                          officials noted that the elapsed time between review stages includes the
                                          time the LGP waited for the applicants to prepare required documents for
                                          each stage. The process was longest for applications to the earlier
                                          solicitations, issued solely under section 1703, from start to closing. 18 The
                                          review process was shorter for applications under the four more recent
                                          solicitations, issued after the passage of section 1705. For example, the



                                          18
                                            Some closed loan guarantees went to projects that applied under section 1703 but were
                                          later eligible for and received funding under section 1705.




                                          Page 15                                                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                        first solicitation, known as Mixed 06, had the longest overall time frames
                                        from intake to closing—a median of 1,442 days—and the FIPP solicitation
                                        had the shortest time frames—a median of 422 days. 19 Applications to the
                                        FIPP solicitation had the shortest elapsed time because this program was
                                        carried out in conjunction with private lenders, who conducted their own
                                        reviews before submitting loan applications to the LGP. 20 Table 4 shows
                                        the median number of days elapsed during each review stage, by
                                        solicitation, as of September 30, 2011.

Table 4: Number of Applications and Median Number of Days Elapsed During Each Review Stage and Overall, by Solicitation

                                                                                                                                  Rejected
                                                                         Conditional                  Overall: start         applications:
                                 Number of Intake stage Due diligence commitment to                    of intake to      start of intake to
Solicitation, issue date        applications (parts I & II)     stage  closing stage                  closing date          rejection date
Number of applications
completing this stage                                     114                43                 30                 30                   241
Mixed 06, 8/8/06                       140                722               430               284              1,442                    280
                   a
EERE 08, 6/30/08                        68                  90              338               177                 696                   168
                                                                                                  b                  b                         b
Nuclear Front-End, 6/30/08               2                230               401
                                                                                                  b                  b                         b
Nuclear Power, 6/30/08                  19                219               294
                                                                                  b               b                  b
Fossil, 9/22/08                          8                199                                                                           201
EERE 09, 7/29/09                       168                194               309               114                 668                     70
                                                                                                                                               b
Transmission, 7/29/09                   12                178               222               115                 515
FIPP, 10/7/09                           37                  73              228                 92                422                     94
                                                              b                   b               b                  b
Manufacturing, 8/10/10                   6                                                                                                78
Median number of days for all
                                                              c               d                   e                  f                         g
applications                                             184                294              127                 660                   277
                                        Source: GAO analysis of DOE data.


                                        Notes:

                                        The number of days elapsed represents the median for the review period of those applications that
                                        proceeded to the next review stage. We believe the median is a better representation of the data for
                                        this table because it reduces the effect of some outliers that skew the data.




                                        19
                                         The minimum number of days elapsed from intake to closing was 287 days, and the
                                        maximum number of days from intake to closing was 1,731 days.
                                        20
                                          The LGP’s lenders to date have been the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank and
                                        the private lenders under the FIPP solicitation who brought applicants to the LGP and who
                                        must risk at least 20 percent of the total loans for the applicants’ project.




                                        Page 16                                                        GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
The calculations were for the status and elapsed days of the 460 applications as of September 30,
2011.

The elapsed time between review stages includes the time the LGP waited for the applicant to
prepare required documents for each stage.
a
 This row includes four applications that the LGP does not consider to be official submissions since
the applicants did not pay the application fee. However, we included these applications in our
analysis because the LGP included them in the application data they provided to us, and these
applications demonstrate the level of interest in the solicitation. Additionally, the average elapsed time
for intake review of applications to the EERE 08 solicitation is lower because applications for certain
types of projects were not required to follow a two-part application process.
b
    No applications completed this stage for this solicitation.
c
 The minimum number of days elapsed for all applications for intake was 33 and the maximum
number of days elapsed was 740.
d
 The minimum number of days elapsed for all applications for due diligence was 50 and the maximum
number of days elapsed was 930.
e
 The minimum number of days elapsed for all applications for conditional commitment to closing was
41 and the maximum number of days elapsed was 407.
f
The minimum number of days elapsed for all applications from intake to closing was 287 and the
maximum number of days elapsed was 1,731.
g
The minimum number of days elapsed for all applications from intake to rejection was 9 and the
maximum number of days elapsed was 1,046.


From September 4, 2009, to July 29, 2011—a period of nearly 2 years—
the LGP closed $5.8 billion in loan guarantees for 13 applications under
section 1705. In the last few months before the authority for section 1705
loan guarantees expired, the LGP accelerated its closings of section 1705
applications that had reached the conditional commitment stage. Thus,
over the last 2 months before the authority for section 1705 expired, the
LPG closed an additional $9.3 billion in loan guarantees for 17
applications under section 1705. 21 The program did not use about $600
million of the $2.5 billion that Congress appropriated to pay credit subsidy
costs before the section 1705 authority expired, and these funds were no
longer available for use by LGP.




21
  This effort was preceded by DOE’s announcement on May 10, 2011, that the LGP would
focus on 18 applications that officials believed were most likely to meet all the
requirements for closing and begin construction prior to the September 30, 2011,
expiration date.




Page 17                                                           GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
The LGP Does Not        When we requested data from the LGP on the identity of applicants,
Maintain Consolidated   status, and key dates for review of all the applications to its nine
Information on          solicitations, the LGP did not have consolidated information on application
                        status readily available. Instead, it had to assemble these data from
Application Status      various sources.

                        To respond to our initial data request, LGP staff provided information from
                        the following five sources:

                        •   “Origination portfolio” spreadsheets, which contain information for
                            applications that are in the due diligence stage of the review process.
                            These spreadsheets contain identifying information, the solicitation
                            applied under, commitment or closing status, type of technology,
                            overall cost, proposed or closed loan amount, and expected or actual
                            approval dates. Information in these spreadsheets is limited. For
                            example, they do not contain dates that the applicant completed each
                            stage and do not have information on applications that have been
                            rejected or withdrawn.

                        •   “Tear sheet” summaries for each application, which give current
                            status and basic facts about the project and its technology, cost,
                            finances, and strengths and weaknesses. Tear sheets are updated
                            periodically, or as needed, but LGP officials could not easily
                            consolidate them because they were kept in word processing software
                            that does not have analysis or summarization capabilities.

                        •   “Application trackers,” which are spreadsheets that give basic
                            descriptive information and status of applications for some
                            solicitations. LGP staff said they were maintained for most, but not all,
                            solicitations.

                        •   “Project Tracking Information” documents showing graphic
                            presentations of application status summaries, loan guarantee
                            amounts requested, technology type, planned processing dates, and
                            procurement schedules for technical reports. These documents were
                            updated manually through December 20, 2010.

                        •   “Credit subsidy forecasts,” which are documents that track the actual
                            or projected credit subsidy costs of the section 1705 projects in
                            various stages of the review process and the cumulative utilization of
                            credit subsidy funding.




                        Page 18                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
LGP staff needed over 3 months to assemble the data and fully resolve
all the errors and omissions we identified. LGP staff also made further
changes to some of these data when we presented our analysis of the
data to the LGP in October 2011. 22 According to LGP officials in 2010, the
program had not maintained up-to-date and consolidated documents and
data. An LGP official said at the time that LGP considered it more
important to process loan guarantee applications than to update records.
Because it took months to assemble the information required for our
review, it is also clear that the LGP could not be conducting timely
oversight of the program. Federal regulations require that records be kept
to facilitate an effective and accurate audit and performance evaluation.
These regulations—along with guidance from the Department of the
Treasury and OMB—provide that maintaining adequate and proper
records of agency activities is essential to oversight of the management
of public resources. 23

In addition, under federal internal control standards, federal agencies are
to employ control activities, such as accurately and promptly recording
transactions and events to maintain their relevance and value to
management on controlling operations and making decisions. 24 Under
these standards, managers are to compare actual program performance
to planned or expected results and analyze significant differences.
Managers cannot readily conduct such analysis of the LGP if the agency
does not maintain consolidated information on applications to the
program and their status. Moreover, the fact that it took the LGP 3 months
to aggregate data on the status of applications for us suggests that its
managers have not had readily accessible and up-to-date information and
have not been doing such analysis on an ongoing basis. This is not
consistent with one of the fundamental concepts of internal control, in
which such control is not a single event but a series of actions and
activities that occur throughout an entity’s operations and on an ongoing


22
  Errors and omissions included missing or incorrect dates associated with an applicant’s
progression to the next stage of LGP review; incorrect status (e.g., application listed as
both withdrawn and rejected); inconsistent entries related to the loan guarantee amount
requested by the applicant; and no status given.
23
 10 C.F.R. § 609.10(f)(1); U.S. Department of the Treasury, Managing Federal
Receivables A Guide for Managing Loans and Administrative Debt, Financial
Management Service (Washington, D.C.: 2005); and OMB Circular A-130.
24
  GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: November 1999).




Page 19                                                  GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
basis. Thus, providing managers with access to aggregated, updated
data could facilitate more efficient management of the LGP.

Furthermore, without consolidated data about applicants, LGP actions,
and application status, LGP staff may not be able to identify weaknesses,
if any, in the program’s application review process and approval
procedures. For example, consolidated data on application status would
provide a comprehensive snapshot of which steps of the review process
are taking longer than expected and may need to be addressed. If
program data were consolidated in an electronic tracking system,
program managers could quickly access information important to
managing the LGP, such as the current amount of credit subsidy
obligated, as well as whether the agency is consistently complying with
certain procedural requirements under its policies and regulations that
govern the program. In addition, the program cannot quickly respond to
requests for information about the program as a whole from Congress or
program auditors.

In March 2011, the LGP acknowledged the need for such a system.
According to the March 2011 LGP summary of its proposed data
management project, as the number of applications, volume of data and
records, and number of employees increased, the existing method for
storing and organizing program data and documents had become
inadequate, and needed to be replaced. In October 2011, LGP officials
stated that while the LGP has not maintained a consolidated application
tracking database across all solicitations, the program has started to
develop a more comprehensive business management system that
includes a records management system called “iPortal” that also could be
used to track the status of applications. Officials did not provide a
timetable for using iPortal to track the status of applications but said that
work is under way on it. However, until iPortal or some other system can
track applications’ status, the LGP staff cannot be assured that
consolidated information on application status necessary to better
manage the program will be available.




Page 20                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                           We identified 43 key steps in the LGP’s guidance establishing its review
The LGP Did Not            process for assessing and approving loan guarantee applications. The
Always Adhere to Its       LGP followed most of its established review process, but the LGP’s actual
                           process differed from this established process at least once on 11 of the
Review Process,            13 applications we reviewed, in part because the process was outdated.
Which May Pose             In some cases, LGP did not perform applicable review steps and in other
Risks and Result in        cases we could not determine whether the LGP had completed review
                           steps. Furthermore, we identified more than 80 instances of deficiencies
Inconsistent               in documentation of the LGP’s reviews of the 13 applications, such as
Treatment                  missing signatures or dates. It is too early to evaluate the impact of the
                           specific differences we identified on achieving program goals, but we and
                           the DOE Inspector General have reported that omitting or poorly
                           documenting review steps may pose increased financial risk to the
                           taxpayer and result in inconsistent treatment of applications.


The LGP Did Not            We identified 43 key steps in the LGP credit policies and procedures
Consistently Follow Its    manual and its other guidance that establish the LGP’s review process for
Established Review         assessing and approving loan guarantee applications. Not all 43 steps
                           are necessary for every application, since the LGP’s guidance lets
Process, in Part Because   officials tailor aspects of the review process on an ad hoc basis to reflect
the Process Was Outdated   the specific needs of the solicitation. For example, under the EERE 08
                           solicitation, the LGP required two parts of intake review for applications
                           involving large projects that integrate multiple types of technologies, but it
                           required only one part for small projects. Furthermore, according to LGP
                           officials, they have changed the review process over time to improve
                           efficiency and transparency, so the number of relevant steps also
                           depends on when the LGP started reviewing a given application. LGP
                           guidance recognizes the need for such flexibility and maintains that
                           program standards and internal control need to be applied transparently
                           and uniformly to protect the financial interests of the government. For
                           more information on the key steps we identified, see appendix III.

                           According to private lenders we contacted who finance energy projects,
                           the LGP’s established review process is generally as stringent as or more
                           stringent than those lenders’ own due diligence processes. For example,
                           like the LGP, private lenders evaluate a project’s proposed expenses and
                           income in detail to determine whether it will generate sufficient funds to
                           support its debt payments. In addition, private lenders and the LGP both
                           rely on third-party expertise to evaluate the technical, legal, and
                           marketing risks that might affect the payments. Lenders who were not
                           participating in the LGP generally agreed that the LGP’s process, if
                           followed, should provide reasonable management of risk. Some lenders


                           Page 21                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
that sponsored applications under the FIPP solicitation said that the
LGP’s review process was more rigorous than their own. They said this
level of rigor was not warranted for the FIPP solicitation because it
covered commercial technology, which is inherently less risky than the
innovative technologies covered by other solicitations. Some private
lenders we spoke with also noted that financing an innovative energy
project involves a certain amount of risk that cannot be eliminated, and
one lender said that a failure rate of 2 or 3 percent is common, even for
the most experienced loan officers.

However, we found that the LGP did not always follow the review process
in its guidance. The LGP completed most of the applicable review steps
for the 6 applications that we reviewed in full, but its actual process
differed from the established process at least once on 5 of the 6
applications we reviewed. We also conducted a more limited examination
of 7 additional applications, in which we examined the steps where the
actual process differed from the established process for the first 6
applications. We again found that the LGP’s actual process differed from
its established process at least once on 6 of the 7 applications. Table 4
summarizes review steps for which we either identified differences or
could not determine whether the LGP completed a particular review step
across all 13 applications. The 13 applications we reviewed represent all
of the applications that had reached conditional commitment or closing,
as of December 31, 2010, excluding 3 applications that had applied under
the earliest solicitation, since the LGP’s review process was substantially
different for these 3 applications. 25




25
  The three excluded applications were from Solyndra, Beacon Power, and Sage
Electrochromics, LLC. One of the 13 applications we reviewed was for a project with
multiple sponsors. In this instance, we only reviewed the application with the largest loan
guarantee amount request.




Page 22                                                   GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Table 5: LGP’s Adherence to Its Review Process for 13 Applications with Closed or Conditionally Committed Loan
Guarantees, by Review Stage and Step

                                                                Number of                                                              Could not
                                                              applications                                  Applicable               determine if
                                                             examined for                     Not              but not                  step was
Review stage            Review step description                review step             applicable           performed                 performed     Completed
Intake                  Part I technical review                                 6                    2                      0                  1            3
                        Solicitation-specific ranking                         13                     5                      0                  8            0
                        process for EERE 08
                        applicants
                        Obtain CRB approval prior to                          13                     3                      6                  0            4
                        due diligence
Due diligence           Review of applicant’s                                   6                    0                      2                  1            3
                        management (e.g.,
                        background check, credit
                        check, Internal Revenue
                        Service check)
                        Obtain final independent                              13                     0                      6                  0            7
                        engineering report prior to
                        conditional commitment
                        Obtain final independent                              13                     3                      1                  1            8
                        marketing report prior to
                        conditional commitment
                        Complete OMB review of the                            13                     0                      3                  7            3
                        LGP credit subsidy cost
                        estimate
Conditional             Collect a full fee from an                            13                     0                      1                  0           12
commitment to closing   applicant at conditional
                        commitment
Total                                                                                              13                       19                18           40
                                            Source: GAO analysis of LGP documentation supporting its application reviews.


                                            Note: These differences represent our review of LGP documents for all 43 key review steps for six
                                            applications, and a targeted review of 9 steps for seven applications.

                                            For the 13 applications we examined, we found 19 differences between
                                            the actual reviews the LGP conducted and the applicable review process
                                            steps established in LGP guidance. In most of these instances, according
                                            to LGP officials, the LGP did not perform an applicable review step
                                            because it had made changes intended to improve the process but had
                                            not updated the program’s credit policies and procedures manual or other
                                            guidance governing the review process.

                                            The following describes the 19 differences we identified, along with the
                                            LGP’s explanations:




                                            Page 23                                                                              GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
•   In six cases, the LGP did not obtain CRB approval prior to due
    diligence, contrary to the March 2009 version of its credit policies and
    procedures manual. This version states that CRB approval is an
    important internal check to ensure only the most promising projects
    proceed to due diligence. LGP officials explained that this step was
    not necessary for these applications because the CRB had verbally
    delegated to the LGP its authority to approve applications before
    these projects proceeded to due diligence. However, LGP documents
    indicate that CRB delegated approval authority after these projects
    had proceeded to due diligence. 26 According to an LGP official, the
    delegation of authority was not retroactive.

•   In seven cases, the LGP did not obtain final due diligence reports
    from independent consultants prior to conditional commitment, as
    required by its credit policies and procedures manual. Through their
    reporting, these independent third parties provide key input to the
    LGP’s loan underwriting and credit subsidy analyses in technical,
    legal, and other areas such as marketing, as necessary. LGP officials
    said that it was a preferable practice to proceed to conditional
    commitment with drafts of these reports and obtain a final report just
    prior to closing. They said this practice helps the LGP reduce financial
    risk, since it allows the LGP to base its decision to close the loan
    guarantee on final reports rather than reports completed 1 to several
    months earlier. An LGP official explained that this part of the review
    process had evolved to meet the program’s needs, but that these
    changes were not yet reflected in the manual. However, the LGP does
    not appear to have implemented this change consistently. Specifically,
    over the course of several months in 2009 and 2010, the LGP
    alternated between the old and the new process concerning final due
    diligence reports from independent consultants. In commenting on a
    draft of this report, LGP officials said that in all cases they received
    final independent consultant reports before the closing of the loan
    guarantees. Because the LGP’s policies and procedures manual at
    the time required final reports at the conditional commitment stage,
    we reviewed the reports available at conditional commitment and did
    not review whether LGP received final reports before closing.




26
   The documents LGP provided for this step indicated that the CRB decision to delegate
its authority occurred on June 25, 2009. The projects in question proceeded to due
diligence in May 2009.




Page 24                                                GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
•   In three cases, the LGP conditionally committed to a loan guarantee
    before OMB had completed its informal review of the LGP’s credit
    subsidy cost estimate. According to the credit policies and procedures
    manual, OMB should be notified each time the LGP estimates the
    credit subsidy cost range, and informal discussions between OMB
    and LGP should ensue about the LGP estimate. This cost is to be
    paid by the borrower for all section 1703 projects to date and by the
    federal government for section 1705 projects. LGP officials explained
    that, in two of these cases, the LGP had provided OMB with their
    credit subsidy estimates, but that OMB had not completed its review
    because there were unresolved issues with the LGP estimates. LGP
    officials did not provide an explanation for the third case. Contrary to
    the manual, LGP officials said that OMB’s informal review of the credit
    subsidy estimates for these applications was not a necessary
    prerequisite to conditional commitment because the actual credit
    subsidy cost is calculated just prior to closing and is formally approved
    by OMB. Furthermore, under section 1705, the government rather
    than the borrower, was to pay credit subsidy costs. Accordingly, the
    LGP used these credit subsidy estimates for internal planning
    purposes rather than for calculating a fee to the applicant. In contrast,
    the LGP completed OMB’s informal review prior to conditionally
    committing to at least three of the other loan guarantees we
    reviewed—including one section 1705 project—and thus the LGP did
    not perform this step consistently across all projects. In its October
    2011 update of its credit policies and procedures manual, the LGP
    retained the requirement that OMB review the LGP’s credit subsidy
    cost estimate prior to conditional commitment. Further, the updated
    guidance added that formal discussions with OMB may be required
    each time OMB reviews LGP’s credit subsidy cost estimate and
    should result with their approval.

    In two cases, the LGP did not complete its required background check
    for project participants. The documents provided indicate that LGP did
    not determine whether the applicants had any delinquent federal debt
    prior to conditional commitment. In one of these cases, LGP officials
    said that the delinquent federal debt check was completed after
    conditional commitment. In the other case, the documents indicate
    that the sponsor did not provide a statement on delinquent debt, and
    LGP officials confirmed that LGP did not perform the delinquent debt
    check prior to conditional commitment.

•   In one case, the LGP did not collect the full fee from an applicant at
    conditional commitment as required by the EERE 08 solicitation.
    According to a LGP official, the LGP changed its policy to require 20


Page 25                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                              percent of this fee at conditional commitment instead of the full fee
                              specified in the solicitation, in response to applicant feedback. This
                              official said the policy change was documented in the EERE 09
                              solicitation, which was published on July 29, 2009. However, this
                              particular application moved to conditional commitment on July 10,
                              2009, prior to the formal policy change.

                         As outlined in these cases, the LGP departed from its established
                         procedures because, in part, the procedures had not been updated to
                         reflect all current review practices. The version of the manual in use at the
                         time of GAO’s review was dated March 5, 2009, even though the manual
                         states that it was meant to be updated at least on an annual basis and
                         more frequently if needed. The LGP issued its first update of its credit
                         policies and procedures manual on October 6, 2011, 27 even though the
                         2009 manual states that it was meant to be updated at least annually and
                         more frequently if needed. We reviewed the revised manual and found
                         that the revisions addressed many of the differences that we identified
                         between the LGP’s established and actual review processes. The revised
                         manual also states that LGP analyses should be properly documented
                         and stored in the new LGP electronic records management system.
                         However, the revised guidance applies to loan guarantee applications
                         processed after October 6, 2011, but not to the 13 applications we
                         reviewed or to any of the 30 loan guarantees the LGP has closed to date.


The LGP Did Not Always   In addition to the differences between the actual and established review
Fully Document           processes, in another 18 cases, we could not determine whether the LGP
Review Steps             had performed a given review step. In some of these cases, the
                         documentation did not demonstrate that the LGP had applied the required
                         criteria. In other cases, the documentation the LGP provided did not show
                         that the step had been performed. The following discusses these cases:

                         •    In one case, we could not determine whether LGP guidance calls for
                              separate part I and part II technical reviews for a nuclear front-end
                              application or allows for a combined part I and part II technical review.
                              The LGP performed a combined part I and part II technical review.




                         27
                           U.S. Department of Energy, Credit Policies and Procedures Manual for Implementing
                         Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Revised, Loan Programs Office (Washington,
                         D.C.: Oct. 6, 2011).




                         Page 26                                                GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
•   In eight cases, we could not determine the extent to which the LGP
    applied the required criteria for ranking applications to the EERE 08
    solicitation. The LGP’s guidance for this solicitation requires this step
    to identify “early mover” projects for expedited due diligence. The LGP
    expedited four such applications but the documentation neither
    demonstrated how the LGP used the required criteria to select
    applications to expedite nor why other applications were not selected.

•   In one case, we could not determine whether the LGP completed its
    required background check for project participants. The documents
    provided indicated there were unresolved questions involving one
    participant’s involvement in a $17 billion bankruptcy and another’s
    pending civil suit.

•   In one case, we could not determine whether the LGP had received a
    draft or final marketing report prior to conditional commitment in
    accordance with its guidance. The LGP provided a copy of the report
    prepared before closing but did not provide reports prepared before
    conditional commitment.

•   In seven cases, LGP either did not provide documents supporting
    OMB’s completion of its informal review of the LGP’s estimated credit
    subsidy range before conditional commitment, or the documentation
    the LGP provided was inconclusive.

We also found 82 additional documentation deficiencies in the 13
applications we reviewed. For example, in some cases, there were no
dates or authors on the LGP documents. The documentation deficiencies
make it difficult to determine, for example, whether steps occurred in the
correct order or were executed by the appropriate official. The review
stage with the fewest documentation deficiencies was conditional
commitment to closing, when 1 of the 82 deficiencies occurred. Table 6
shows the instances of deficient documentation that we identified.




Page 27                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Table 6: Documentation Deficiencies Identified During 13 Application Reviews

                                                                        Missing final                                                   Inconsistent with
                           Missing    Missing title or other            version or a                 Missing             Missing data       other project
Review phase                author           identification                signature                    date              or analysis         documents
Intake                          15                                6                       2                   17                   8                   1
Due diligence                   12                                0                       6                     6                  5                   3
Conditional
commitment to closing             0                               0                       0                     0                  0                   1
Total                           27                                6                       8                   23                  13                   5
                                         Source: GAO analysis of LGP documentation supporting its application reviews.

                                         Note: These deficiencies represent our review of LGP documents for all 43 review steps for six
                                         applications and a targeted review of 9 steps for seven applications.

                                         During our review, the LGP did not have a central paper or electronic file
                                         containing all the documents supporting the key review steps we
                                         identified as being part of the review process. Instead, these documents
                                         were stored separately by various LGP staff and contractors in paper files
                                         and various electronic storage media. As a result, the documents were
                                         neither readily available for us to examine, nor could the LGP provide us
                                         with complete documentation in a timely manner. For example, we
                                         requested documents supporting the LGP’s review for six applicants in
                                         January 2011. For one of the applications, we did not receive any of the
                                         requested documents supporting the LGP’s intake application reviews
                                         until April 2011. Furthermore, for some of the review steps, we did not
                                         receive documents responsive to our request until November 2011 and,
                                         as we discussed earlier, in 18 cases we did not receive sufficient
                                         documentation to determine whether the LGP performed a given review
                                         step. Federal regulations and guidance from Treasury and OMB provide
                                         that maintaining adequate and proper records of agency activities is
                                         essential to accountability in the management of public resources and the
                                         protection of the legal and financial rights of the government and the
                                         public. 28 Furthermore, under the federal standards for internal control,
                                         agencies are to clearly document internal control, and the documentation
                                         is to be readily available for examination in paper or electronic form.




                                         28
                                           36 C.F.R. § 1222.22; U.S. Department of the Treasury, Managing Federal Receivables
                                         A Guide for Managing Loans and Administrative Debt, Financial Management Service
                                         (Washington, D.C.: 2005) and OMB Circular A-130.




                                         Page 28                                                                          GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                           Moreover, the standards state that all documentation and records should
                           be properly managed and maintained. 29

                           As stated above, the LGP recognized the need for a recordkeeping
                           system to properly manage and maintain documentation supporting
                           project reviews. In March 2011, the LGP adopted a new records
                           management system called “iPortal” to electronically store documents
                           related to each loan application and issued guidance for using this
                           system. As of November 1, 2011, LGP officials told us that the system
                           was populated with data or records relevant to conditionally committed
                           and closed loan guarantees and that they plan to fully populate it with
                           documentation of the remaining applications in a few months. The LGP
                           was able to provide us with some additional documents from its new
                           system in response to an early draft of this report, but the LGP did not
                           provide additional documentation sufficient to respond to all of the issues
                           we identified. Accordingly, other oversight efforts may encounter similar
                           problems with documentation despite the new system.


Differences Between the    It is too early in the loan guarantees’ terms to assess whether skipping or
Actual and Established     poorly documenting review steps will result in problems with the
Processes and Incomplete   guarantees or the program. However, we and the DOE Inspector General
                           have reported that omitting or poorly documenting review steps may lead
Documentation May          to a risk of default or other serious consequences. Skipping or poorly
Pose Risks                 documenting steps of the process during intake can lead to several
                           problems. First, it reduces the LGP’s assurance that it has treated
                           applications consistently and equitably. This, in turn, raises the risk that
                           the LGP will not select the projects most likely to meet its goals, which
                           include deploying new energy technologies and ensuring a reasonable
                           prospect of repayment. In July 2010, we reported that the inconsistent
                           treatment of applicants to the LGP could also undermine public
                           confidence in the legitimacy of the LGP’s decisions. Furthermore, DOE’s
                           Inspector General reported in March 2011 that incomplete records may
                           impede the LGP’s ability to ensure consistency in the administration of



                           29
                             GAO/AIMD-00-21.3 states in part that internal control and all transactions and other
                           significant events need to be clearly documented, and the documentation should be
                           readily available for examination. OMB Circular A-130, Management of Federal
                           Information Resources requires agencies to ensure that records management adequately
                           document agency activities and ensure access to the records regardless of form or
                           medium.




                           Page 29                                               GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
              the program, make informed decisions, and provide information to
              Congress, OMB, and other oversight bodies. 30 The Inspector General
              also stated that, in the event of legal action related to an application, poor
              documentation of the LGP’s decisions may hurt its ability to prove that it
              applied its procedures consistently and treated applicants equitably.
              Moreover, incomplete records may leave DOE open to criticism that it
              exposed taxpayers to unacceptable financial risks.

              Differences between the actual and established review processes that
              occur during or after due diligence may also lead to serious
              consequences. These stages of the review process were established to
              help the LGP identify and mitigate risks. Omitting or poorly documenting
              its decisions during these stages may affect the LGP’s ability to fully
              assess and communicate the technical, financial, and other risks
              associated with projects. This could lead the program to issue guarantees
              to projects that pose an unacceptable risk of default. Complete and
              thorough documentation of decisions would further enable DOE to
              monitor the loan guarantees as projects are developed and implemented.
              Furthermore, without consistent documentation, the LGP may not be able
              to fully measure its performance and identify any weaknesses in its
              implementation of internal procedures.


              Through the over $30 billion in loan guarantees and loan guarantee
Conclusions   commitments for new and commercial energy technologies that DOE has
              made to date, the agency has set in motion a substantial federal effort to
              promote energy technology innovation and create jobs. DOE has also
              demonstrated its ability to make section 1705 of the program functional by
              closing on 30 loan guarantees. It has also improved the speed at which it
              was able to move section 1705 applications through its review process.
              To date, DOE has committed to six loan guarantees under section 1703
              of the program, but it has not closed any section 1703 loan guarantees or
              otherwise demonstrated that the program is fully functional. Many of the
              section 1703 applications have been in process since 2008 or before. As
              DOE continues to implement section 1703 of the LGP, it is even more
              important that it fully implement a consolidated system for overseeing the
              application review process and that LGP adhere to its review process and


              30
                U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General, Audit Report: The Department
              of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program for Clean Energy Technologies, DOE/IG-0849
              (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 3, 2011).




              Page 30                                               GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
document decisions made under updated policies and procedures. It is
noteworthy that the process LGP developed for performing due diligence
on loan guarantee applications may equal or exceed those used by
private lenders to assess and mitigate project risks. However, DOE does
not have a consolidated system for documenting and tracking its progress
in reviewing applications fully implemented at this time. As a result, DOE
may not readily access the information needed to manage the program
effectively and to help ensure accountability for federal resources. Proper
recordkeeping and documentation of program actions is essential to
effective program management. The absence of such documentation may
have prevented LGP managers, DOE, and Congress from having access
to the timely and accurate information on applications necessary to
manage the program, mitigate risk, report progress, and measure
program performance. DOE began to implement a new records
management system in 2011, and LGP staff stated that the new system
will enable them to determine the status of loan guarantee applications
and to document review decisions. However, the LGP has neither fully
populated the system with data or records on all applications it has
received nor its decisions on them. Nor has DOE committed to a
timetable to complete the implementation of the new records
management system. Until the system has been fully implemented, it is
unclear whether the system will enable the LGP to both track applications
and adequately document its review decisions.

In addition, DOE did not always follow its own process for reviewing
applications and documenting its analysis and decisions, potentially
increasing the taxpayer’s exposure to financial risk from an applicant’s
default. DOE has not promptly updated its credit policies and procedures
manual to reflect its changes in program practices, which has resulted in
inconsistent application of those policies and procedures. It also has not
completely documented its analysis and decisions made during reviews,
which may undermine applicants’ and the public’s confidence in the
legitimacy of its decisions. Furthermore, the absence of adequate
documentation may make it difficult for DOE to defend its decisions on
loan guarantees as sound and fair if it is questioned about the justification
for and equity of those decisions. DOE has recently updated its credit
policies and procedures manual, which, if followed and kept up to date,
should help the agency address this issue.




Page 31                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                      To better ensure that LGP managers, DOE, and Congress have access
Recommendations for   to timely and accurate information on applications and reviews necessary
Executive Action      to manage the program effectively and to mitigate risks, we recommend
                      that the Secretary of Energy direct the Executive Director of the Loan
                      Programs Office to take the following three actions:

                      •   Commit to a timetable to fully implement a consolidated system that
                          enables the tracking of the status of applications and that measures
                          overall program performance.

                      •   Ensure that the new records management system contains
                          documents supporting past decisions, as well as those in the future.

                      •   Regularly update the LGP’s credit policies and procedures manual to
                          reflect current program practices to help ensure consistent treatment
                          for applications to the program.



                      We provided a copy of our draft report to DOE for review and comment.
Agency Comments       In written comments signed by the Acting Executive Director of the Loan
and Our Evaluation    Programs Office, it was unclear whether DOE generally agreed with our
                      recommendations. The Acting Executive Director stated subsequently to
                      the comment letter that DOE disagreed with the first recommendation and
                      agreed with second and third recommendations. In its written comments,
                      DOE also provided technical and editorial comments, which were
                      incorporated as appropriate. DOE’s comments and our responses to
                      specific points can be found in appendix IV of this report.

                      Concerning our first recommendation that LGP commit to a timetable to
                      fully implement a consolidated system that enables the tracking of the
                      status of applications and that measures overall program performance, in
                      its written comments, DOE states that the LGP believes that it is
                      important that our report distinguish between application tracking and
                      records management. We believe we have adequately distinguished the
                      need for application tracking and management of documentation. These
                      are addressed in separate sections of our report and in separate
                      recommendations. DOE also states that LGP has placed a high priority
                      on records management and is currently implementing a consolidated
                      state-of-the-art records management system. In the statement
                      subsequent to DOE’s written comments, the Acting Executive Director
                      stated the office did not agree to a hard timetable for implementing our
                      first recommendation. As stated in the report draft, under federal internal



                      Page 32                                        GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
control standards, agencies are to employ control activities, such as
accurately and promptly recording transactions and events to maintain
their relevance and value to management on controlling operations and
making decisions. Because LGP had to manually assemble the
application status information we needed for this review, and because this
process took over 3 months to accomplish, we continue to believe DOE
should develop a consolidated system that enables the tracking of the
status of applications and that measures overall program performance.
This type of information will help LGP better manage the program and
respond to requests for information from Congress, auditors, or other
interested parties.

Concerning our second recommendation that LGP ensure that its new
records management system contains documents supporting past
decisions as well as those in the future, subsequent to DOE’s written
comments, the Acting Executive Director stated that DOE agreed.

Concerning our third recommendation that LGP regularly update the
credit policies and procedures manual to reflect current program
practices, subsequent to DOE’s written comments, the Acting Executive
Director stated that DOE agreed.


We are sending copies of this report to the appropriate congressional
committees, the Secretary of Energy, and other interested parties. In
addition, this report also is available at no charge on the GAO website at
http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff members have any questions about this report, please
contact me at (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov. Contact points for our
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on
the last page of this report. GAO staff that made major contributions to
this report are listed in appendix V.




Frank Rusco
Director, Natural Resources and Environment




Page 33                                        GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              This appendix details the methods we used to examine the Department of
              Energy’s (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program (LGP). We have reported four
              times and testified three times on this program, including two previous
              reports in response to the mandate in the 2007 Revised Continuing
              Appropriations Resolution to review DOE’s execution of the LGP and to
              report our findings to the House and Senate Committees on
              Appropriations. (See Related GAO Products.) Because of questions
              regarding inconsistent treatment of applications raised by the most recent
              report in this mandated series, 1 this report, also in response to the
              mandate, assesses (1) the status of the applications to the LGP’s nine
              solicitations and (2) the extent to which the LGP has adhered to its
              process for reviewing applications for loans that the LGP has committed
              to or closed.

              To gather information on the program, we met with the LGP’s
              management and staff from each of the program’s divisions involved with
              the LGP’s review of loan guarantee applications from intake to closing. In
              general, we reviewed the laws, regulations, policies and procedures
              governing the program and pertinent agency documents, such as
              solicitations announcing loan guarantee opportunities. We reviewed prior
              GAO and DOE Inspector General reports performed under or related to
              our mandate to audit the LGP. In addition, we gathered agency data and
              documents on the loan guarantee applications in process, those that had
              received a DOE commitment, and those that had been closed.

              To determine the status of the applications to all nine of the solicitations
              for our first objective, we explored the LGP’s available sources to see
              what data the program had compiled on the applications received and
              their current status in the review process. Because the LGP did not have
              comprehensive or complete application status data, we tailored a data
              request to collect data on the status of all 460 applications to the
              program. In consultation with agency officials, we prepared a data
              collection form requesting basic information on the identity, authority,
              amount requested, status, key milestone dates, and type of energy
              technology for all of the applications to date. These data were to provide
              a current snapshot of the program by solicitation and allow analysis of
              various characteristics. To ease the data collection burden, we populated
              the spreadsheets for each solicitation with the limited data from available



              1
               GAO-10-627.




              Page 34                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




sources. LGP staff or contractors familiar with each solicitation completed
the spreadsheets, and these spreadsheets were reviewed by managers
before they were forwarded to GAO. We assessed the reliability of the
data the LGP provided by reviewing these data, comparing them to other
sources, and following up repeatedly with the agency to clarify questions
and inconsistencies, and obtain missing data. This process enabled us to
develop up-to-date program-wide information on the status of
applications. This process resulted in data that were complete enough to
describe the status of the program. Once we collected these data, we
found them to be sufficiently reliable for our purposes. The LGP updated
its March 2011 applicant status data as of July 29, 2011, and we obtained
additional data on the conditional commitments and closings made by the
September 30, 2011, expiration of the section 1705 authority for loan
guarantees with a credit subsidy. To maintain consistency between the
application status data initially provided by the LGP and later data
updates, we use the terms application and project interchangeably,
although in some cases multiple applications were submitted for a single
project.

To assess the LGP’s execution of its review process for our second
objective, we first analyzed the law, regulations, policies, procedures, and
published solicitations for the program and interviewed agency staff to
identify the criteria and the key review process steps for loan guarantees,
as well as the documents that supported the process. We provided a list
of the key review steps we identified to LGP officials, and incorporated
their feedback as appropriate. Based on the key review steps and
supporting documentation identified by LGP staff, we developed a data
collection instrument to analyze LGP documents and determine whether
the LGP followed its review process for the applications reviewed. Since
the LGP’s review process varied across solicitations, we tailored the data
collection instrument to meet the needs of the individual solicitations. We
then selected a nonprobability sample of 6 applications from the 13 that
had received conditional commitments from DOE or had progressed to
closing by December 31, 2010, and had not applied under the Mixed
2006 solicitation, since the LGP’s review process was substantially
different for this solicitation and not directly comparable to later
solicitations. 2 We requested documentation for these 6 applications


2
 The three excluded Mixed 2006 applications were from Solyndra, Beacon Power, and
Sage Electrochromics, LLC. One of the 13 applications we reviewed was for a project with
multiple sponsors. In this instance, we only reviewed the application with the largest loan
guarantee amount request.




Page 35                                                  GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




representing a range of solicitations and project types. We selected our
initial sample to represent each of the five solicitations where applications
had reached conditional commitment and different LGP investment
officers to reduce the burden on LGP staff. We requested the documents
supporting the LGP’s review process from intake to closing and examined
them to determine whether the applicable review steps were carried out.
While we examined whether the applicable review steps were carried out,
we did not examine the content of the documents and the quality of work
supporting them. Where the documents were not clear about completion
of the process, showed potential differences from the review process, or
raised questions, we followed up with program officials to obtain an
explanation and, as applicable, documentation supporting the
explanation. On key questions where we identified differences from the
review process for the initial sample of 6, we conducted a targeted review
of documents for the 7 remaining applications that had reached
conditional commitment or closed prior to December 31, 2010, excluding
Mixed 2006 applicants. The six loan guarantee application files reviewed
in full and the seven files reviewed in part were a nongeneralizable
sample of applications.

To identify the initial universe of private lenders with experience financing
energy projects, we reviewed the list of financial institutions that had
submitted applications to the LGP under the Financial Institution
Partnership Program (FIPP) solicitation. We used these firms as a
starting point because of their knowledge about DOE’s program and
processes. To identify financial institutions involved in energy sector
project finance outside of FIPP, we searched or contacted industry
associations, industry conferences, and other industry groups in the same
energy sectors that LGP solicitations to date have targeted. We
interviewed seven private lenders identified through this process using a
set of standard questions and the outline of the DOE’s review process to
gain insights on its comparability to the review process for underwriting
loans in the private sector.

We conducted this performance audit from September 2010 to February
2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




Page 36                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix II: Tables of Loan Guarantees
                                            Appendix II: Tables of Loan Guarantees
                                            Conditionally Committed or Closed



Conditionally Committed or Closed

                                            The following tables provide basic details on the loan guarantee
                                            applications that received a conditional commitment by September 30,
                                            2011, or had proceeded to closing by that date. Table 7 lists applications
                                            under section 1703 with conditional commitments. Table 8 lists section
                                            1705-eligible applications with conditional commitments that did not reach
                                            closing by the expiration of the section 1705 authority on September 30,
                                            2011. Table 9 lists the section 1705 applications with conditional
                                            commitments that reached closing by the expiration of the section of the
                                            1705 authority on September 30, 2011.

Table 7: Section 1703 Applications Reaching Conditional Commitment as of September 30, 2011, by Solicitation

Dollars in millions
                                                                                                              Date conditional Guarantee
Solicitation                     Sponsor                   Name                      Technology            commitment offered    amount
Mixed, 8/8/06                    SAGE                 SAGE                           Energy Efficiency                 3/5/2010        $72
                                 Electrochromics, LLC Electrochromics
EERE 08, 6/30/08                 ADA-ES, Inc.              Red River                 Energy Efficiency                12/8/2009        245
Nuclear Front-End, 6/30/08       AREVA NC, Inc.            Eagle Rock          Nuclear Front-End                      5/20/2010      2,000
                                                           Enrichment Facility
Nuclear Power, 6/30/08           Georgia Power             Vogtle 3&4                Nuclear                          2/16/2010      3,460
                                 Company                                             Generation
Nuclear Power, 6/30/08           MEAG                      Vogtle 3&4                Nuclear                          2/16/2010      1,809
                                                                                     Generation
Nuclear Power, 6/30/08           Oglethorpe Power          Vogtle 3&4                Nuclear                          2/16/2010      3,057
                                 Corp.                                               Generation
Total                                                                                                                              $10,643
                                            Source: GAO analysis of DOE data.



Table 8: Section 1705-Eligible Applications Reaching Conditional Commitment as of September 30, 2011, by Solicitation

Dollars in millions
                                                                                                            Date conditional      Guarantee
Solicitation          Sponsor                   Name                            Technology               commitment offered         amount
EERE 08, 6/30/08      Nordic Windpower,         Nordic Project                  Wind Manufacturing                  7/2/2009           $16
                      Ltd.
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Solar Millennium,         Blythe Solar Power              Solar Generation                   4/18/2011          2,105
                      LLC                       Project Plant
FIPP, 10/7/09         First Solar               Topaz (CA)                      Solar Generation                   6/30/2011          1,930
FIPP, 10/7/09         Multiple                  SolarStrong (USA)               Solar Generation                    9/8/2011           344
Total                                                                                                                                $4,395
                                            Source: GAO analysis of DOE data.




                                            Page 37                                                          GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                            Appendix II: Tables of Loan Guarantees
                                            Conditionally Committed or Closed




Table 9: Section 1705-Eligible Applications Reaching Closing as of September 30, 2011, By Solicitation

Dollars in millions
                                                                                             Date
                                                                                      conditional
                                                                                     commitment               Date    Guarantee
Solicitation          Sponsor               Name                  Technology             offered            closed      amount
Mixed, 8/8/06         Beacon Power Corp.    Beacon Power          Transmission           7/2/2009         8/6/2010           $43
Mixed, 8/8/06         BrightSource Energy, Ivanpah 1              Solar Generation      2/22/2010         4/5/2011           520
                      Inc.
Mixed, 8/8/06         POET, LLC             Project LIBERTY       Biomass                7/7/2011        9/23/2011           105
Mixed, 8/8/06         Solyndra, Inc.        Solyndra Fab 2,       Solar                 3/20/2009         9/4/2009           535
                                            LLC                   Manufacturing
EERE 08, 6/30/08      Abengoa Solar, Inc.   Solana Project        Solar Generation       7/2/2010       12/20/2010         1,446
EERE 08, 6/30/08      Abound Solar, Inc.    Abound Solar       Solar                     7/2/2010        12/9/2010           400
                                            Manufacturing, LLC Manufacturing
EERE 08, 6/30/08      AES Energy Storage, Project Dyno            Transmission          7/30/2010       12/22/2010            17
                      LLC
EERE 08, 6/30/08      BrightSouce Energy,   Ivanpah 2             Solar Generation      2/22/2010         4/5/2011           551
                      Inc.
EERE 08, 6/30/08      BrightSouce Energy,   Ivanpah 3             Solar Generation      2/22/2010         4/5/2011           556
                      Inc.
EERE 08, 6/30/08      First Wind Energy,    Kahuku Wind           Wind Generation       2/18/2010        7/26/2010           117
                      LLC                   Power
EERE 08, 6/30/08      SoloPower, Inc.       SoloPower             Solar                 2/17/2011        8/19/2011           197
                                            Manufacturing         Manufacturing
                                            Facility
EERE 08, 6/30/08      U.S. Geothermal, Inc. Neal Hot Springs      Geothermal             6/9/2010        2/23/2011            97
EERE 09, 7/29/09      1366 Technologies,    Project Eagle         Solar                 6/17/2011         9/8/2011           150
                      Inc.                                        Maufacturing
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Abengoa Bioenergy     Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass                   8/19/2011        9/29/2011           132
                      U.S. Holding          Biomass of Kansas
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Abengoa Solar, Inc.   Mojave Solar          Solar Generation      6/14/2011        9/23/2011         1,202
                                            Project
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Cogentrix Solar       Alamosa Solar         Solar Generation      5/10/2011         9/9/2011            91
                      Services, LLC         Generating Project
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Nextlight Renewable   Antelope Valley       Solar Generation      6/30/2011        9/30/2011           646
                      Energy, LLC           Solar Ranch 1
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Nextlight Renewable   Agua Caliente         Solar Generation      1/20/2011         8/5/2011           967
                      Energy, LLC
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Sempra Generation     Mesquite Solar        Solar Generation      6/15/2011        9/28/2011           337
                                            Energy
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Solar Reserve, LLC    Tonopah Project       Solar Generation      5/19/2011        9/28/2011           737
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Sunpower Corp.        California Valley     Solar Generation      4/12/2011        9/30/2011         1,237
                                            Solar Ranch



                                            Page 38                                                 GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                            Appendix II: Tables of Loan Guarantees
                                            Conditionally Committed or Closed




Dollars in millions
                                                                                                     Date
                                                                                              conditional
                                                                                             commitment               Date    Guarantee
Solicitation          Sponsor               Name                          Technology             offered            closed      amount
EERE 09, 7/29/09      Yale University       Record Hill Wind              Wind Generation        3/3/2011        8/15/2011           102
Transmission,         LS Power Associates, Southwest Intertie             Transmission        10/19/2010         2/11/2011           343
7/29/09               LP                   Project (SWIP) -
                                           South
FIPP, 10/7/09         Caithness Energy,     Shepherds Flat                Wind Generation       10/8/2010       12/16/2010         1,051
                      LLC                   (OR)
FIPP, 10/7/09         First Solar           Desert Sun (CA)               Solar Generation      6/30/2011        9/30/2011         1,169
FIPP, 10/7/09         Nevada Geothermal     Blue Mountain (NV) Geothermal                       6/15/2010         9/3/2010            79
                      Power Company
FIPP, 10/7/09         NextEra               Genesis Solar (CA) Solar Generation                 6/14/2011        8/26/2011           682
FIPP, 10/7/09         Noble Environmental   Noble Granite (NH)            Wind Generation       6/21/2011        9/23/2011           135
                      Power, LLC
FIPP, 10/7/09         Ormat Nevada, Inc.    Ormat (NV)                    Geothermal             6/9/2011        9/23/2011           280
FIPP, 10/7/09         Prosun Solar          Project Amp (USA)             Solar Generation      6/22/2011        9/30/2011         1,120
                      Development
                      Company, LLC
Total                                                                                                                            $15,044
                                            Source: GAO analysis of DOE data.




                                            Page 39                                                         GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix III: Key Tasks in the LGP’s Review
                                           Appendix III: Key Tasks in the LGP’s Review
                                           and Approval Process for Loan Guarantee
                                           Applications


and Approval Process for Loan Guarantee
Applications
                                           Table 10 provides basic details about key review tasks in LGP’s process
                                           for reviewing and approving loan guarantee applications, as identified
                                           from our review of relevant laws, regulations, LGP guidance, published
                                           solicitations and interviews with LGP officials. These tasks formed the
                                           basis for our examination of LGP files to determine if LGP followed its
                                           review process for each of the 13 applications that had received
                                           conditional commitments from DOE or had progressed to closing by
                                           December 31, 2010, and had not applied under the Mixed 2006
                                           solicitation. 1 Accordingly, the tasks listed below reflect LGP’s review
                                           process for the applications we reviewed and do not reflect LGP’s review
                                           process for applicants to the Mixed 2006 solicitation, which was
                                           substantially different and not directly comparable to later solicitations.
                                           Additionally, since we found minor variations in LGP’s review process
                                           across the solicitations, we have noted below which tasks are only
                                           applicable under certain solicitations. If no exceptions are listed, then the
                                           particular task is applicable across all the relevant solicitations.

Table 10: Key Review and Approval Tasks for Loan Guarantee Applications, by Review Stage

Review stage and task                          Description
Intake
1. Collect part I application fee.             The first of three fees that LGP collects during the review process. LGP is required by
                                               its authorizing legislation to charge and collect sufficient fees to cover the program’s
                                               administrative costs.
2. Perform part I completeness check.          LGP reviews applications using a solicitation-specific checklist to document that the
                                               application package is complete.
3. Perform innovation review (EERE 08          LGP reviews applications to determine if the proposed project uses an innovative
applicants).                                   energy technology, as required by the program’s authorizing legislation. For later
                                               solicitations, this review was incorporated into the LGP’s technical review.
4. Perform part I technical review (2008       LGP analyzes the project’s eligibility and responsiveness to statutory and program
Nuclear Power and Nuclear Front-End) or        requirements, such as the project’s
commercial review (FIPP).                      •   technical relevance against DOE requirements,
                                               •   technical approach and work plan, and
                                               •   environmental and technological benefits.




                                           1
                                            The three excluded Mixed 2006 applications were from Solyndra, Beacon Power, and
                                           Sage Electrochromics, LLC. One of the 13 applications we reviewed was for a project with
                                           multiple sponsors. In this instance, we only reviewed the application with the largest loan
                                           guarantee amount request.




                                           Page 40                                                     GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                                Appendix III: Key Tasks in the LGP’s Review
                                                and Approval Process for Loan Guarantee
                                                Applications




Review stage and task                            Description
5. Perform part I financial review (2008         LGP analyzes
Nuclear Power and Nuclear Front-End).            •  creditworthiness elements such as sponsor/management capabilities,
                                                    financial/business plans, and market factors; and
                                                 •  programmatic elements such as (a) construction and start-up factors and (b) legal,
                                                    regulatory, and permitting factors.
6. Perform emissions review or lifecycle         Loan guarantee applications under the EERE 08 and EERE 09 solicitations must pass
analysis (EERE 08 and EERE 09                    an emissions analysis to meet the authorizing law’s greenhouse gas emissions goals.
applicants).
7. Perform review for solicitation-specific      Depending on the solicitation, loan guarantee applications must meet certain
                         a
eligibility requirements.                        solicitation-specific eligibility requirements, related to
                                                 •    certain project types,
                                                 •    certain technology categories, and
                                                 •    construction commencement requirements for section 1705 projects.
8.a. Rank projects to identify “Early Movers”    LGP identifies the projects that present the fewest obstacles in moving forward to begin
(EERE 08 only).                                  the technical and financial review process first. The ranking factors are related to
                                                 •    level of environmental review required under the National Environmental Policy Act
                                                      of 1970,
                                                 •    financial structure,
                                                 •    readiness to proceed, and
                                                 •    offtake agreements if applicable (an agreement to buy all or a substantial part of
                                                      the output of an energy project).
8.b. Rank Projects and Identify Project          The 2008 Nuclear Power and Front-End solicitations call for an early ranking of
Strengths and Weaknesses as part of the          projects. The ranking factors are related to
part I review (2008 Nuclear Power and            •    the prospect of repayment,
Nuclear Front-End).
                                                 •    strength of the project and sponsor, and
                                                 •    regulatory status.
9. Notify applicants of intent to                For solicitations with a one-part intake process, applicants are notified of LGP’s intent to
proceed/invite part II submissions               proceed with its review. For solicitations with a two-part intake process, applicants are
(part II submissions exclude certain EERE        notified they have qualified under part I and are invited to submit application materials
08 projects).                                    for part II.
                                   b
10. Collect part II application fee.             The second of three fees that LGP collects during the review process. LGP is required
                                                 by the authorizing legislation to charge and collect sufficient fees to cover the program’s
                                                 administrative costs.
11. Perform part II completeness check.          LGP reviews applications using a solicitation-specific checklist to document that the part
                                                 II application package is complete.
12. Perform part II technical review             LGP analyzes
(excludes FIPP).                                 •  the project’s technical relevance against DOE requirements,
                                                 •  track record and experience of applicant,
                                                 •  project work plan, and
                                                 •  environmental benefits of project.




                                                Page 41                                                   GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                               Appendix III: Key Tasks in the LGP’s Review
                                               and Approval Process for Loan Guarantee
                                               Applications




Review stage and task                           Description
13. Perform part II financial review (excludes LGP analyze
FIPP).                                         •  creditworthiness elements such as sponsor/management capabilities,
                                                  financial/business plans, and market factors; and
                                               •  programmatic elements such as (a) construction and start-up factors and (b) legal,
                                                  regulatory, and permitting factors.
14. Perform an environmental critique and       LGP may prepare a publicly available environmental critique and synopsis to document
synopsis.                                       the consideration given to environmental factors and record that the relevant
                                                environmental consequence of each alternative has been considered in its evaluation
                                                and selection process.
15. Application screening/ranking sessions      To focus limited loan guarantee funds on the best applicants, LGP evaluates and
for finalization of merit review scores for     competitively ranks all applications within each solicitation’s cohort. This ranking is the
selections to due diligence.                    basis for LGP’s decision to invite applicants to due diligence.
16. DOE’s Credit Review Board (CRB)             DOE’s CRB reviews LGP’s recommendations of projects for due diligence and
approves projects recommended for due           provides approval. The CRB delegated this authority to LGP on June 25, 2009, and
diligence by LGP (only projects proceeding      this task was phased out for applications proceeding to due diligence following this
to due diligence prior to 6/25/09).             decision.
17. Notify applicant of LGP’s decision to       After clearing requirements of parts I and II, the applicants are notified that they will
proceed into due diligence (excludes FIPP).     proceed into due diligence.
Due diligence
18. Evaluate financing plan and assess          To evaluate the project in detail, LGP will
financial viability.                            •   thoroughly review the uses and sources of funds;
                                                •   analyze adequacy, leverage, timing of funding;
                                                •   review terms/rights of funding source;
                                                •   assess the adequacy of proposed contingency/reserve funding;
                                                •   determine compliance with program requirements from the law, final regulations,
                                                    and the solicitation;
                                                •   assess the project’s financial viability, with an emphasis on the applicant’s ability
                                                    to repay the guaranteed portion of loan; and
                                                •   evaluate assumptions underlying projected revenues/expenses/likelihood
                                                    technical performance will be achieved.
19. Perform a review of applicant’s             LGP performs certain checks (e.g., background check, credit check, IRS check) to
management.                                     evaluate the key players for the loan guarantee applicant.
20. Evaluate project risks and identify risk    To evaluate the project’s risks and potential mitigants, LGP will
mitigants.                                      •   identify, assess, and estimate the impact of risks associated with the project;
                                                •   determine the types and magnitude of the risks associated with the project;
                                                •   determine the proper risk allocation among the parties; and
                                                •   determine the extent to which risks have been mitigated.
21. Perform a financial model analysis and      To evaluate the project’s financial model, LGP will
stress-test.                                    •   verify the applicant’s calculations for its financial model, and
                                                •   quantify the impacts of risks by stress-testing the applicant’s and LGP’s financial
                                                    models for changes in assumptions.




                                               Page 42                                                    GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                                Appendix III: Key Tasks in the LGP’s Review
                                                and Approval Process for Loan Guarantee
                                                Applications




Review stage and task                            Description
22. Assess strengths and weaknesses of              LGP will examine the sponsor’s investment to date and financial/managerial
project participants.                               capability to implement the project as proposed, including
                                                    •   the project sponsor’s track record in project development and the technology
                                                        used in the application,
                                                    •   the project sponsor’s financial strength and resources,
                                                    •   the strategic value of the project to the sponsor, and
                                                    •   the experience of the project’s management team.
23. Assess whether an environmental                 As required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 (NEPA), LGP reviews
assessment, environmental impact statement,         the project and determines which environmental review process is necessary.
or categorical exclusion applies. (For FIPP
projects, this assessment step occurs during
intake.)
24. Prepare Environmental Assessment,               Based on LGP’s analysis under task 23, LGP prepares the appropriate documents,
Environmental Impact Statement or                   which include a description of any significant findings under other applicable
Categorical Exclusion.                              environmental laws.
25. Identify significant findings under other
applicable environmental laws.
26. Receive independent engineering/technical To determine the technical efficacy of the project, LGP or an independent
consultant report.                            engineering firm, will thoroughly review the applicant’s independent engineering
                                              report, including consideration of factors such as environmental impact and
                                              infrastructure requirements. This review also provides input for the risks and mitigants
                                              section of the credit paper.
27. Receive independent legal analysis.             To review the project’s legal structure, LGP or an external firm will
                                                    •   analyze draft legal agreements among project participants,
                                                    •   analyze intellectual property rights of participants in the project to use the
                                                        proposed technology, and
                                                    •   provide input for the risks and mitigants section of the credit paper.
28. Receive independent marketing consultant As necessary, LGP will consult with external marketing advisors to assess the
report (as applicable).                      project’s market and off-take risk as part of the underwriting and credit analysis
                                             process. This assessment should be supported by data, examples, and/or research
                                             that substantiate the score assigned for each attribute.
29. Negotiate term sheet.                           Based on its due diligence analysis and input from any external advisors, LGP
                                                    prepares a term sheet and negotiates its provisions with the applicant.
30. Calculate expected recovery rate.               LGP calculates the percentage of value the agency can expect to recover in the
                                                    event of default.
31. Prepare a credit approval package.              LGP assembles key documents describing the proposed loan guarantee agreement
                                                    and project for internal review. These include
                                                    •   the credit paper providing an overview of the project and its attributes,
                                                    •   available third-party input,
                                                    •   draft term sheet,
                                                    •   internal risk rating matrix,
                                                    •   recovery rate notching matrix,
                                                    •   compliance checklist, and
                                                    •   presentation summarizing the transaction for internal and external review.




                                                Page 43                                                    GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                                              Appendix III: Key Tasks in the LGP’s Review
                                              and Approval Process for Loan Guarantee
                                              Applications




Review stage and task                             Description
32. Credit committee reviews and approves           LGP management internal review and approval step.
the credit approval package.
33. Office of Management and Budget (OMB)           OMB reviews LGP’s calculation of the estimated credit subsidy cost range for the
reviews LGP’s credit subsidy estimate.              project and provides informal approval. The credit subsidy cost is based on a formula
                                                    designed to determine the net present value of the estimated cost to the federal
                                                    government of guaranteeing the loan.
34. LGP consults with U.S. Treasury regarding The Department of the Treasury reviews the transaction.
the commitment of Federal Financing Bank
funds.
35. DOE’s CRB approves projects                     DOE leadership review and approval step.
recommended by LGP for conditional
commitment.
Conditional commitment to closing
36. DOE offers applicant conditional                DOE conditionally commits to issuing a loan guarantee agreement dependent upon
commitment for a loan guarantee and                 whether the conditions precedent laid out in the term sheet are met. Upon accepting
applicant accepts.                                  the offer, the applicant pays all or a portion of the second fee, depending on the
                                                    solicitation.
37. LGP prepares and negotiates definitive          LGP and external counsel prepare and negotiate the final financing terms and loan
financing documentation                             guarantee agreement.
38. LGP receives final credit rating from a         The applicant obtains and provides final credit rating to LGP.
rating agency via the applicant.
39. LGP legal team circulates an action memo        Internal review and approval step that includes a crosswalk between the key terms
to all relevant parties for concurrence and the     at the time of conditional commitment and the final closing terms, including any
Secretary’s signature.                              material adverse differences.
40. OMB formally approves the final credit          OMB review and key decision step.
subsidy cost.
41. Outside counsel confirms that all               LGP asks outside counsel to verify that the applicant has met all of the terms agreed
conditions precedent to the loan guarantee          to at conditional commitment as preconditions for LGP’s approval of the final loan
agreement have been satisfied.                      guarantee agreement.
42. DOE and applicant execute loan                  The final loan guarantee documents are executed at closing and the loan is
agreement, and DOE issues guarantee.                considered closed once the agreements have been executed.
43. First funds disbursement.                       At the time of or shortly after the loan guarantee’s closing, the Federal Financing
                                                    Bank, or other lender, disburses the first payment of funds to the loan guarantee
                                                    recipient.
                                              Sources: GAO analysis of DOE guidance, published solicitations, and relevant regulations.

                                              a
                                               According to LGP officials, this step is a component of the innovation and other eligibility reviews
                                              rather than a separate step. However, we included it as a separate step in our list of key review tasks
                                              since it was an important aspect of the process.
                                              b
                                               As applicable, for solicitations where LGP established a two part application process for some or all
                                              applicants (excludes stand-alone or manufacturing projects that applied under EERE 08).




                                              Page 44                                                                            GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix IV: Comments from the
                            Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
                            of Energy



Department of Energy

Note: GAO comments
supplementing those in
the report text appear at
the end of this appendix.




                            Page 45                                     GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                 Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
                 of Energy




See comment 1.




See comment 2.



See comment 3.




                 Page 46                                     GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
                 Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
                 of Energy




See comment 4.




                 Page 47                                     GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Energy




Page 48                                     GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
               Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
               of Energy




               The following are GAO’s comments on the Department of Energy’s letter
               dated February 23, 2012.


               1. We disagree with DOE’s assertion that our findings relate only to
GAO Comments      procedures that LGP had in place in 2009 and early 2010. We
                  compared LGP’s actual process to its established process for each of
                  the applications that reached closing or conditional commitment by
                  December 31, 2010. As we note in the report, LGP did not revise its
                  policies and procedures manual until October 2011, so the same
                  established procedures were in place for all of the applications that
                  closed by September 30, 2011. We did not review any of the
                  applications that were committed or closed during 2011 in depth, in
                  part because it took through November 2011 for LGP to respond to
                  our repeated requests for available documentation for the applications
                  closed or committed to through 2010. Our 2010 report on LGP (GAO-
                  10-627) and this report had information on five of the same
                  applications. We examined DOE’s review process for these
                  applications in much more depth for this report than in the previous
                  one. We did take into account changes in LGP procedures, systems,
                  and other improvements as part of our review, as noted by the
                  references to LGP’s new records management system and its
                  updated policies and procedures manual. We also took into account
                  changes in LGP policies and procedures that affected the 13 files that
                  we reviewed, when LGP was able to document that these changes
                  had occurred.

               2. As noted in the report, these systems were not fully implemented at
                  the time we were gathering data for our review and this is still the
                  case, according to DOE’s written comments, dated February 23,
                  2012.

               3. As stated above, we disagree with LGP’s statement that our findings
                  relate only to procedures that LGP had in place in 2009 and early
                  2010. As we note in the report, LGP did not revise its policies and
                  procedures manual until October 2011, so the same established
                  procedures were in place for all of the applications that closed by
                  September 30, 2011. The report describes LGP’s efforts to update its
                  documentation management and tracking systems and notes that
                  none of these were fully implemented at the time of our review.

               4. DOE disagrees with the recommendation to implement an application
                  tracking system. However, as noted in our report and DOE’s
                  comments, LGP is in the process of implementing a consolidated


               Page 49                                       GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Energy




    state of the art business management system that DOE believes may
    address this need. As we stated in the draft report, under federal
    internal control standards, federal agencies are to employ control
    activities, such as accurately and promptly recording transactions and
    events to maintain their relevance and value to management on
    controlling operations and making decisions. Because LGP had to
    manually assemble the application status information we needed for
    this review, and because this process took the program over three
    months to accomplish, we continue to believe DOE should develop a
    consolidated system that enables the tracking of the status of
    applications and that measures overall program performance. This
    type of information will help LGP better manage the program and
    respond to requests for information from Congress, auditors, or other
    interested parties.




Page 50                                       GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Frank Rusco (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the individual named above, Karla Springer, Assistant
Staff             Director; Marcia Carlsen; Cindy Gilbert; Cathy Hurley; Emily Owens; John
Acknowledgments   Scott; Ben Shouse; Carol Shulman; Barbara Timmerman; and Lisa Van
                  Arsdale made key contributions to this report.




                  Page 51                                      GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
Related GAO Products
             Related GAO Products




             Recovery Act: Status of Department of Energy’s Obligations and
             Spending. GAO-11-483T. Washington, D.C.: March 17, 2011.

             Department Of Energy: Further Actions Are Needed to Improve DOE’s
             Ability to Evaluate and Implement the Loan Guarantee Program.
             GAO-10-627. July 12, 2010.

             Recovery Act: Factors Affecting the Department of Energy’s Program
             Implementation. GAO-10-497T. March 4, 2010.

             American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: GAO’s Role in Helping to
             Ensure Accountability and Transparency for Science Funding.
             GAO-09-515T. March 19, 2009.

             Department Of Energy: New Loan Guarantee Program Should Complete
             Activities Necessary For Effective and Accountable Program
             Management. GAO-08-750. July 7, 2008.

             Department Of Energy: Observations On Actions To Implement The New
             Loan Guarantee Program For Innovative Technologies. GAO-07-798T.
             September 24, 2007.

             The Department of Energy: Key Steps Needed to Help Ensure the
             Success of the New Loan Guarantee Program for Innovative
             Technologies by Better Managing Its Financial Risk. GAO-07-339R.
             February 28, 2007.




(361233)
             Page 52                                     GAO-12-157 DOE Loan Guarantees
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