Posted by: kmorrison33 | November 17, 2010

The Government’s Weatherization Site - Should We Laugh or Cry?

I’ve frequently griped about the way government spends money, and about some of the wasteful policies and programs it has established.  However, there is one program (at least) that I believe in.  Government funded home weatherization for people/families with low incomes.  It makes sense on several levels.  The home improvements are costly for someone living paycheck to paycheck, yet the energy savings from winterizing a home can be substantial.  No one with a heart wants to see people in cold climates without heat.  Also, the reduction in energy for that home is good for the individual, for the community, and even for the earth.  Simply put it’s a practicle useful government expenditure.

So what’s the complaint? The Weatherization & Intergovernmental Program website.  First off, the name itself alludes to the problem with the site.  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a person use the word ‘intergovernmental’ in a sentence before, and it is the unintelligible nature of the website that is the problem.  This is the opening paragraph of the website…

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program provides grants, technical assistance, and information tools to states, local governments, community action agencies, utilities, Indian tribes, and overseas U.S. territories for their energy programs. These programs coordinate with national goals to reduce petroleum consumption and increase the energy efficiency of the U.S. economy. They aim at market transformation to reduce market barriers to the cost effective adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

Well, I’m glad to hear that, “They aim at market transformation to reduce market barriers to the cost effective adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.”  Seriously, they can’t say something like - we’d like more people of modest means to be able to weatherize their home?  While clearly this site was intended to be used by the states and organization, and not the individual, it’s baffling that there is no resource for people looking to winterize their home.  There is no clear directory to the states agencies and organizations that offer these services.  The site is a maze of pages for the user to search through an alphabet soup of forms.

Now this may seem like a trite complaint, certainly there are bigger problems than a poor government website.  However, this a symptom of one of the major problems with government - a serious lack of common sense.  Just because you can make people jump through hoops doesn’t mean you should.  As I looked through the site my reaction was first - ‘where do you get info on home weatherization?’ and second - ‘glad I don’t need to find a form’.  There is a problem with government that isn’t political, it’s functional.  Government often does a rotten job of performing efficiently and intelligently.  It is a dificult issue to address, as there is probably no politicians who are ‘pro-big-beaurocracy’ or ‘pro-confusion,’ but that is what is often created by the government.  It is wasteful and in some cases it can even be dangerous (just ask the people onthe Gulf Coast).  The message to government shouldn’t be ‘work more,’ it should be ‘work better.’

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