Final Report on Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program: Most Transactions Met Program Requirements, But Program Completion Activities Continue
On April 29, 2010, we issued our final report on the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) program. The law that provided a supplemental appropriation for the program directed us to review the Department’s administration of CARS. In addition, Senator Charles Grassley requested that we, in fulfilling the statutory mandate, pay particular attention to the Department’s ability to assure program integrity. For the report, we: (1) examined the effectiveness of NHTSA’s controls to ensure that CARS transactions met Federal requirements; (2) identified challenges NHTSA faced in implementing the program; and (3) assessed NHTSA’s progress in closing out the program, including evaluating compliance and accounting for total program costs. We found that while NHTSA’s controls ensured that most CARS transactions met basic program eligibility requirements—such as fuel efficiency, ownership, and insurance—controls related to trade-in vehicle disposal are less effective. In addition, we found that immediate consumer response and the infusion of additional program dollars presented significant challenges to NHTSA’s implementation of the CARS program; and that NHTSA has begun to take action to evaluate program compliance and to determine total program costs—two major activities remaining to close out the CARS program. Implementing a comprehensive plan would help NHTSA more efficiently carry out these remaining close-out activities and better inform the Secretary of Transportation and Congress of its progress and overall program performance. In responding to a draft of this report, NHTSA concurred with our recommendations and provided a description of the actions it took to address the many challenges in implementing the program under tight deadlines.