AUGUSTA  — The now-defunct Maine Green Energy Alliance had weak financial controls and informal practices that created a high risk for the misuse of federal funds, a government auditor has determined.

But a three-month probe by the auditor found no fraud or inappropriate use of federal money, only appearances of wrongdoing attributed in part to a start-up organization that had poor oversight.

That’s the final conclusion of the state’s Office of Program Evaluation & Government Accountability, or OPEGA, which was asked by the Legislature to examine the spending, administration and accountability of the alliance. The office’s director, Beth Ashcroft, presented its report today to the Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee.

The nonpartisan agency looked into how the alliance spent roughly $500,000 of a $1.1 million federal grant meant to expand home energy audits and weatherization through community organizing and education.

The alliance was phased out last winter after falling far short of its goals. The remaining money was shifted to a successful rebate program that helped owners insulate their homes.

But questions raised in media reports about the origins of the alliance, its spending and hiring practices and apparent links to the Maine Democratic Party led to legislative scrutiny and an investigation by OPEGA.

The office attributed some of the problems to the start-up nature of the alliance. It was critical of the alliance’s board and of Efficiency Maine Trust, the quasi-state agency that oversees weatherization efforts and was administering the federal grant. The board was ineffective and not in compliance with state law, the office determined, and the trust didn’t have sufficient oversight into the alliance’s operations.

An accounting firm hired to review the alliance’s spending found more than $272,000 in questionable costs, which led OPEGA to look deeper into the matter. No instances of inappropriate uses or missing funds were found during a subsequent review.

OPEGA also offered several recommendations to avoid similar problems in the future. The committee is expected to take them up at a public hearing and work session on Sept. 6, at 9 a.m.

Some Republicans on the committee said they remain frustrated with the lack of accountability and poor management of public funds. And they continue to harbor suspicions that some  Democratic candidates employed by the alliance may have been conducting campaign efforts on the job, a charge that wasn’t substantiated by OPEGA’s review.

“This report, to me, seems to be a slow-motion train wreck,” said Sen. David Trahan, R-Lincoln.

But Trahan also gave credit to the trust for shutting down the program after identifying weak performance.

“I can’t find a smoking gun,” Trahan said. “But what can we do to keep this from happening again?”