Thursday, December 27, 2007

FEMA faces

Voices of New Orleans website discusses the reasons behind the FEMA's
flaccid response in Katrina's aftermath versus the lightning fast reaction following the California wildfires recently. It turns out that the difference between the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Louisiana after Katrina and in California after the fires boils down to this: In California, they listened to Nancy Ward and in Louisiana, they didn't

From an AP report last week
A week after Hurricane Katrina, a senior official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in charge of streamlining the flow of disaster aid issued a directive that would have helped a staggering 1,029 rebuilding projects and $5.3 billion in funds cut through the agency's infamous red tape.

But in a decision critics say led to losing precious time in the post-storm recovery, her three-day deadline to clear projects through a final bureaucratic hurdle was rejected. The rebuilding of schools, roads, hospitals, firehouses and other desperately needed infrastructure was stalled for months of interagency reviews that ended at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Gil Jamieson, FEMA's head of Gulf Coast recovery and one of the officials who dismissed the directive of colleague Nancy Ward, said her order would have given federal agencies too little time to check for funding duplication.

Thanks, Mr. Jamieson. Lord knows that your rejection of Ms. Ward's deadline made sure that you had enough time to eliminate the possiblility of funding duplication.

From a a GAO report

"FEMA made nearly $20 million in duplicate payments to thousands of individuals who claimed damages to the same property from both hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA also made millions in potentially improper and/or fraudulent payments to nonqualified aliens who were not eligible for [FEMA's Individuals and Households Program]. For example, FEMA paid at least $3 million to more than 500 ineligible foreign students at four universities in the affected areas. This amount likely understates the total payments to ineligible foreign students because it does not cover all colleges and universities in the area. FEMA also provided potentially improper and/or fraudulent IHP assistance to other ineligible non-U.S. residents, despite having documentation indicating their ineligibility.


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