September 10, 2010

Weatherization Assistance Program

Proposed Rule
Summary

Score: 10 / 60

Additional details
Agency
Department of Energy
Regulatory Identification Number
1904-AB97
Agency Name
Department of Energy
Rule Publication Date
05/21/2009
Comment Closing Date
06/12/2009

RULE SUMMARY

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to amend the eligibility provisions applicable to multi-unit buildings under the Weatherization Assistance Program for Low-Income Persons. As proposed, if a multi-unit building is under an assisted or public housing program and is identified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and included on a list published by DOE, that building would meet certain income eligibility requirements, and the procedural requirements to protect against rent increases and undue enhancement of the weatherized building would be satisfied, under the Weatherization Assistance Program without the need for further evaluation or verification. If a multi-unit building includes units that participate in the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, identified by HUD, and included on a list published by DOE, that building would meet the income eligibility requirements of the Weatherization Assistance Program without the need for further evaluation or verification. DOE believes that the proposed rule would reduce the procedural burdens on evaluating applications from buildings that are part of HUD assisted- and public-housing programs, and the federal low-income housing tax credit programs.

METHODOLOGY

There are twelve criteria within our evaluation within three broad categories: Openness, Analysis and Use. For each criterion, the evaluators assign a score ranging from 0 (no useful content) to 5 (comprehensive analysis with potential best practices). Thus, each analysis has the opportunity to earn between 0 and 60 points.

Criterion Score

Openness

1. How easily were the RIA , the proposed rule, and any supplementary materials found online?
1904-AB97 can be found on regulations.gov using the RIN and a keyword search. On the Department of Energy website, the searcher is directed through three clicks to regulations.gov to find the actual regulation. The Department of Energy's website does not contain direct links to the rule.
4/5
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?
There are no data in the analysis. There is also almost no attempt to frame costs and benefits of this program. The only data used pertains to legal provisions.
0/5
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?
There are no explicit models or assumptions. DOE asserts that the rule will reduce the burden on grant recipients but does not cite evidence beyond saying that HUD has already certified tenants' income in the properties at issue.
1/5
4. Was the analysis comprehensible to an informed layperson?
The entire 7-page announcement is easy to understand. A big reason for this is that there is no regulatory analysis, beyond a statement that the Recovery Act authorized $5 billion in grants and this regulation might change how they are distributed. Having no regulatory impact analysis is equivalent to having one that is virtually impossible to understand.
1/5

Analysis

5. How well does the analysis identify the desired outcomes and demonstrate that the regulation will achieve them?
1/5
Does the analysis clearly identify ultimate outcomes that affect citizens’ quality of life?
The notice suggests that weatherization lowers tenants' utility bills and saves energy. The goal of this particular regulation seems to be to make it easier for states and other grant recipients to verify tenants' income to make sure that their projects qualify for the weatherization grants.
2/5
Does the analysis identify how these outcomes are to be measured?
No measurement occurs in the analysis. The notice implies that the regulation will reduce the cost burden on grant recipients but does not quantify this.
0/5
Does the analysis provide a coherent and testable theory showing how the regulation will produce the desired outcomes?
The notice offers a plausible theory that relying on existing HUD income certifications will save grant recipients a lot of time and trouble. Text in the NPRM emphasizes the connection between weatherization and energy efficiency. It is not explicitly explained, however, how weatherization improves energy efficiency.
3/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
None, beyond documenting that HUD verifies incomes in relevant properties.
1/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the outcomes?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
6. How well does the analysis identify and demonstrate the existence of a market failure or other systemic problem the regulation is supposed to solve?
1/5
Does the analysis identify a market failure or other systemic problem?
The NPRM has some content that hints at the fact that low-income homes may be inefficient due to weatherization, and a sort of externality. This is not discussed explicitly, however. The other systemic problem is that grant recipients (or potential recipients) face large costs of verifying tenants' incomes in multi-unit dwellings.
3/5
Does the analysis outline a coherent and testable theory that explains why the problem (associated with the outcome above) is systemic rather than anecdotal?
The notice argues that this verification is expensive and that HUD has already done this work for certain dwelling units.
2/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
Grant recipients' costs of income verification are not measured or compared with the costs of using HUD data.
0/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the existence or size of the problem?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
7. How well does the analysis assess the effectiveness of alternative approaches?
0/5
Does the analysis enumerate other alternatives to address the problem?
No alternatives are discussed.
0/5
Is the range of alternatives considered narrow (e.g., some exemptions to a regulation) or broad (e.g., performance-based regulation vs. command and control, market mechanisms, nonbinding guidance, information disclosure, addressing any government failures that caused the original problem)?
No alternatives are discussed.
0/5
Does the analysis evaluate how alternative approaches would affect the amount of the outcome achieved?
No alternatives are discussed, and no are outcomes measured.
0/5
Does the analysis adequately address the baseline? That is, what the state of the world is likely to be in the absence of federal intervention not just now but in the future?
The "baseline" is that grant recipients do their own income verification, but this cost is not measured.
0/5
8. How well does the analysis assess costs and benefits?
1/5
Does the analysis identify and quantify incremental costs of all alternatives considered?
Aside from mentioning a $5 billion grant for the weatherization program, there is no discussion of incremental costs.
1/5
Does the analysis identify all expenditures likely to arise as a result of the regulation?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
Does the analysis identify how the regulation would likely affect the prices of goods and services?
The regulation mentions requirements that the benefits of the weatherization grants must flow through to the low-income tenants.
1/5
Does the analysis examine costs that stem from changes in human behavior as consumers and producers respond to the regulation?
A footnote acknowledges that expenditures of federal funds may have opportunity costs.
1/5
If costs are uncertain, does the analysis present a range of estimates and/or perform a sensitivity analysis?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
Does the analysis identify the alternative that maximizes net benefits?
The cost-benefit analysis is largely non-existent, so this is impossible to tell. Furthermore, only one option is considered.
0/5
Does the analysis identify the cost-effectiveness of each alternative considered?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would bear costs and assess the incidence of costs?
In the RIA, this rulemaking is framed as a transfer from government to grantees. Therefore it can be assumed that taxpayers would bear the costs of this rule. This discussion is limited to a sentence, however.
1/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would receive benefits and assess the incidence of benefits?
The regulation mentions requirements that the benefits of the weatherization grants must flow through to the low-income tenants. There is no discussion of benefits that would result from environmental impacts.
1/5

Use

9. Does the proposed rule or the RIA present evidence that the agency used the analysis?
The RIA is acknowledged; however, there is no evidence that this affected the decision making The analysis section consists of a claim that the regulation might alter the distribution of funds. This is not the stated purpose of the rule, though.
1/5
10. Did the agency maximize net benefits or explain why it chose another alternative?
Some benefits are mentioned qualitatively, but costs are not mentioned even qualitatively. No benefits are calculated and no alternatives are compared.
0/5
11. Does the proposed rule establish measures and goals that can be used to track the regulation's results in the future?
There is no establishment of performance measures that can be used to track results in the future, and no analysis that could establish a basis for such measures.
0/5
12. Did the agency indicate what data it will use to assess the regulation's performance in the future and establish provisions for doing so?
No relevant discussion.
0/5
 
Total 10 / 60