by Clement Tan, Tribune Washington Bureau
Read the rest here.WASHINGTON — Federal investigators who submitted phony products, such as a gasoline-powered alarm clock, to the government's energy-efficiency certification program found it easy to obtain approval and say the program is "vulnerable to fraud and abuse."Investigators with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said they obtained Energy Star approval for 15 of 20 fictitious products they submitted for certification with fake energy-savings claims. Two were rejected and three did not receive a response.Two of the certified products received purchase requests by real companies because four bogus firms, developed for the purpose of the investigation, were listed as Energy List partners.Among the phony products that obtained Energy Star certification was a "room air cleaner" that, in a picture prominently displayed on the Web site of a bogus company, showed an electric space heater with a feather duster and strips of fly paper attached to it."Certification controls were ineffective primarily because Energy Star does not verify energy-savings data reported by manufacturers," investigators said in a GAO report released Fridayabuse."