- js reader version
- view hidden posts
- tags and related articles
by HOPE YEN
Thursday, Dec. 07, 2006 at 5:14 PM
One year after Katrina, the government is still squandering tens of millions of dollars in wasted disaster aid, including million in bogus rental payments to people who had already received free trailers and apartments
WASHINGTON (AP) -- One year after Katrina, the government is still squandering tens of millions of dollars in wasted disaster aid, including million in bogus rental payments to people who had already received free trailers and apartments, federal investigators said Wednesday.
At the same time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has recovered less than 1 percent of the billion it wasted on fraudulent hurricane assistance after the August 2005 storm, highlighting a need for stronger controls the next time a major hurricane strikes.
The report by the Government Accountability Office paints a picture of an agency still struggling - at significant taxpayer expense - to find the balance between distributing quick aid to those in need while guarding against substantial abuse.
Last week, a federal judge in Washington ordered the Bush administration to resume housing payments for thousands of people displaced by Katrina, criticizing FEMA for a convoluted application process. FEMA is appealing that ruling.
The GAO audit found that numerous aid applicants received duplicate rental aid, with FEMA in one case providing free apartments to 10 people in Plano, Texas, while sending them ,000 to cover out-of-pocket housing expenses.
Another million was wasted on thousands of individuals who claimed the same property damage from both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA also paid at least million to more than 500 ineligible foreign students in the stricken Gulf Coast, the report said.
"Ineffective preventive controls have resulted in substantial fraudulent and improper payments," GAO investigator Gregory Kutz told a Senate hearing. "The additional examples of potentially fraudulent and improper payments in our testimony today show that our estimate of billion in improper and/or fraudulent payments is likely understated."
He described FEMA's approach of "shooting money out the door" and recouping bad payments later as badly misguided since only pennies on the dollar are typically recovered. He estimated that tens of thousands of people sought to defraud the government after Katrina and Rita.
"I hope FEMA has learned the costly lesson," Kutz said .
Responding to the audit, FEMA spokesman Pat Philbin said the agency has sought to eliminate waste in the past year by upgrading the registration process to prevent duplicate payments and strengthening the process for verifying names and addresses.
"FEMA continues to focus our rebuilding efforts to greatly improve our reliability, accuracy and response in providing aid to disaster victims," Philbin said. "The agency will consider and evaluate any new findings that can assist in improving our processes and procedures."
Among the audit's findings:
-Fraud detection is inadequate. Even though GAO found at least billion in disaster aid waste, FEMA has identified about 0 million in improper payments and recouped just million.
-Control procedures remain weak. FEMA was unable to locate dozens of laptops, printers and other items that federal employees purchased with government-issued credit cards for Katrina disaster work. In one case, FEMA purchased 20 flat-bottom boats, but could not find two of them and lacked titles to any of them.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who requested the report, said she is hopeful that her legislation seeking to empower FEMA by giving director David Paulison direct access to the president in a crisis might offer some relief.
Still, FEMA must do more to revamp its disaster aid procedures, said Collins, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
"The American people are generous and willingly open their hearts and their wallets to the victims of disasters," she said. "But they expect that their tax dollars will be spent carefully to help storm victims, not be lost to a hurricane of waste, fraud and abuse."
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who will become committee chairman when Democrats take control of the Senate in January, said the panel will continue to closely watch FEMA so that it improves its practices.
"The record is clear that, going forward, FEMA has much work to do before we can be confident that it is providing assistance to those who are eligible and who need it, while denying it to those who do not," he said.
On the Net:
Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov
Senate Homeland Security Committee: http://hsgac.senate.gov/
Report this post as:
Change Links September 2018 posted
More Scandals Rock Southern California Nuke Plant San Onofre
Site Outage Friday
Change Links August 2018
Setback for Developer of SC Farm Land
More problems at Shutdown San Onofre Nuke
Change Links 2018 July posted
More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena
"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena
Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles
Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert!
Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California
Change Links June 2018 posted
The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years
Unity Archive Project
Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi
CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police
Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies
California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings)
Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico
Change Links May 2018
Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed
GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE
lausd whistle blower
Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images
UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light
Change Links April 2018
More Local News...
The Dictatorship of Corporations
18 Lethal Consequences Of Hunting
Paraphysique de l'outplacement déontologue
Creative Destruction Hack Mod Generator
Shopping du bashing
After Lehman Brothers, Experts Say Global Financial Crisis Can Happen Again
“Animaniacs in Concert!” Starring Voice Legend Rob Paulsen
Probabilités de fin d'humanité
Florida Area of Migrant Farmworkers Denied Right to Construct Health Clinic near NaplesCIW
Propagande de virus, virus de propagande
Steer clear of work morality!
Sweatshop Lodge Ceremony Continues in US Fed Prisons Led by Inmates
Paraphysique de l'origami
The Shortwave Report 09/07/18 Listen Globally!
August 2018 Honduras Coup update
Du réussissement putréfié
Brett Kavanaugh Filled The 5th Circuit With Execution Judges
Augusta Georgia Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Writing About Russians Crime Acts
Paraphysique de contextualité
Crisis Regulation in Global Capitalism
Ex-voto de réification
Please Oppose Warmonger, Execution and Torture Supporting Bush Operative Brett Kavanaugh
Paraphysique d'exploitation occultation
Ryan Zinke Is Charging Taxpayers For A Trophy Hunters' Council
Is the Financial Crash 2.0 Coming?
The Shortwave Report 08/31/18 Listen Globally!
More Breaking News...