FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 18, 2017
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LAKEWOOD, Colorado – The Government Accountability Office formally closed out its findings and recommendations last week from its October 2015 report concerning Western Area Power Administration's unobligated balances. The report confirmed WAPA's current and forward strategy in handling the accounts.
The objectives in the GAO report, titled Sequestration and Shutdown, Selected Agencies Generally Managed Unobligated Balances in Reviewed Accounts, but Balances Exceeded Target Levels in Two Accounts (GAO-16-26), included evaluating how selected agencies managed and used unobligated balances in reviewed accounts, focusing on fiscal years 2013 through 2014, which covered the Fiscal Year 2013 sequestration and Fiscal Year 2014 government shutdown.
In its comments for recommendations, GAO stated that WAPA finalized a strategy that identified appropriate levels of unobligated balances within the Construction, Rehabilitation, Operation and Maintenance (CROM) account. The strategy, approved in December 2016, focuses on maintaining reasonable and appropriate funding to ensure sustainability of the primary purposes of the account, including plans for monitoring the balances going forward.
"We are happy to have the final report concerning unobligated balances," said WAPA Acting Chief Financial Officer Dennis R. Sullivan. "WAPA takes its financial responsibility and accountability to its customers seriously and this acknowledgment validates our plan."
The findings stated that WAPA generally managed unobligated balances effectively by tracking balances, having a process to estimate balances, and identifying necessary balances to carry over each year to fulfill its mission. The report did identify opportunities for improvement in the way WAPA managed unobligated balances in its CROM account. Specifically, GAO noted that WAPA had not taking sufficient steps to ensure that the CROM account only carries over the necessary unobligated balances into the next year. Based on this, GAO recommended that WAPA finalize and implement a strategy to reduce excess unobligated balances within the CROM account.
WAPA finalized its Unobligated Balances Strategy for FY 2016 – FY 2020, a comprehensive WAPA-wide unobligated funding strategy that aligns with overall sustainable funding plans in support of WAPA's mission. Extensive efforts have taken place to refine the methodologies and thresholds to ensure sustainability of the following three primary purposes: annual operation and maintenance expenses, capital investments and purchase power and wheeling expenses within the CROM account and non-CROM accounts.
About WAPA: Western Area Power Administration annually markets and transmits more than 25,000 gigawatt hours of clean, renewable power from 56 federal hydroelectric power plants owned and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and International Boundary and Water Commission in 15 western and central states. It is part of the Department of Energy. Follow us on Twitter @WesternAreaPowr or visit the website at www.wapa.gov.