Sunday, April 4, 2010

"You Can't Make This Stuff Up" #1

From time to time I run across things that the government is doing that fits into a category I call "You Can't Make This Stuff Up". I have decided to use this blog to share some of these with you from time t time. This is my first installment and, although this is April, this is no April Fools Joke. It is true.

We hav
e all seen those familiar "Energy Star" logo's on our washers, dryers, monitors and lots of things. They are supposed to signify that the item is energy efficient. The logo is so important that you can get discount, rebates and even tax credits for buying items that have them. Some guidelines for making purchases for federal and state agencies actually specify that items must be Energy Star certified. Not long ago the GAO (Government Accountability Office) decided to test the Energy Star Certification process. They downloaded applications from an on-line source and submitted them for 15 products. The products they submitted did not exist. They made them up and many of them were blatantly ridiculous (including the "gas powered alarm clock", a "geothermal heat pump" and one item made up of a space heater with a feather glued to the top that was called an air cleaner).

10 of the items got the certifications! Of the remaining 5, 2 were told they needed additional outside testing because they had components like light bulbs, and 3 never got any answer at all.
It gets even better. The GAO then went and using a website, a cell phone number and a mail service PO box address, they made up several fake companies and applied for Energy Star Partnerships. The "Partnership" status is important because any company that has it can go to the Energy Star website, download the appropriate logo and slap it on any product it wants to. Every fake company they set up got approved, no checking, no problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy are the departments tasked with overseeing Energy Star. Shortly after the GAO issued it's report they issued statements saying they would look into strengthening Energy Star.
They said they are “developing an expanded system that will require all products seeking the ENERGY STAR label to be tested…” --Gee thanks guys

I feel so much better knowing that the government is there looking out for us, how about you?

Oh, and Hey, Have a Happy Easter!

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