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It also said that while the Recovery Act recommended competitive awards, it was not mandatory. When insufficient applications were filed for the funds, it made additional awards to research projects.

In a response letter, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Chuck McConnell said it was Friedman who failed to obtain records of awards outside of competitive processes that were made by officials who had since left the department.

Friedman disputed McConnell, saying the department was unable to produce the records despite numerous attempts.

He also said $16.8 million in costs were approved without proper documentation, including $2.4 million that was questionable or unallowable. Another $1 million in spending was improperly allowed to cover costs before awards were approved, Friedman added.

Finally, the department backed projects in which the companies were known to have risky financial strength. Three projects awarded a total of $90 million had only managed to spend $7 million, he found.