FEMA Is Not Spending Katrina Funds Wisely
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has recouped less than 1 percent of the $1 billion that investigators contend it squandered on fraudulent assistance, according to the Government Accountability Office. Its report shows the disaster relief agency’s struggles, one year after the deadly storm, to rush aid to those in need while also preventing abuse.
Last week, a federal judge in Washington ordered the Bush administration to resume housing payments for thousands of people displaced by Katrina. The ruling, which FEMA is appealing, cited a convoluted process for applying for help.
“Our work shows for individual assistance payments, at least tens of thousands of individuals took the opportunity to commit fraud,” said Gregory Kutz, who works for Congress’ investigative arm. He said his previous $1 billion estimate of wasted aid was now “likely understated.”
“I hope FEMA has learned the costly lesson and will make reforms for future disasters,” Kutz said at a Senate hearing.
Can we do better? Oh yes…
But when, and how?