Reporting from Washington — Federal investigators who submitted phony products, such as a gas-powered alarm clock, to the government's energy efficiency certification program found it easy to obtain approval for the devices, according to a report released Friday.
Among the bogus devices that obtained certification was a "room air cleaner" that, in a picture prominently displayed on the website of a fictitious company, showed an electric space heater with a feather duster and strips of fly paper attached to it.
Investigators with the Government Accountability Office said they obtained Energy Star approval for 15 of 20 fake products they submitted for certification with 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 this investigation, were listed as Energy Star partners.
"Certification controls were ineffective primarily because Energy Star does not verify energy-savings data reported by manufacturers," investigators said in the GAO report. Work for the investigation, undertaken at the request of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), started last June and did not involve products that are already certified and available to the public.