Monday, September 11, 2006

FEMA refuses audit of spending

FEMA, found by the GAO to have squandered hundreds of millions in fradulent payments and wasteful spending, has refused a demand by the state of Louisiana that costs charged back to the state be subject to state audit, the Associated Press reports.

Louisiana is facing an unprecedented $338 million bill for its share of Hurricane Katrina relief. The state legislature appropriated $500 million to cover the bills, but inserted a requirement that FEMA's co-pay amounts be reviewed by the state auditor.

FEMA's response: to refuse to submit to even a spot audit, and to threaten Louisiana with penalties for being so, well, damned honest. The federals really need to make up their minds. Either they want honest government in Louisiana, or they dont.

What's tragically funny about this is that the Government Accounting Office identified around $1.4 billion in fradulent payouts by FEMA due to lax procedures at the agency. That doesn't even get into things like the squandered $114 million with of useless trailers. FEMA's position must be part of that "soveriegn immunity" thing; you work for the sovereign, and you're immune from taxpayer oversight.

Why the T-P doesn't run Associated Press stories on the NOLA.Com site is beyond me. Everyone who cares about NOLA, including people who are disbursed and reduced to reading the Times-Picayune on line, shouldn't miss out on this one.

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