WASHINGTON – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director of Public Affairs William Booher issued the following statement today, in response to the release of DHS OIG Report 17-97-D, “FEMA Should Disallow $2.04 Billion Approved for New Orleans Infrastructure Repairs”:
“FEMA appreciates the work of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) in planning and conducting its audit and issuing this report. The OIG’s work helps improve FEMA’s mission delivery and accountability to the American people -- work that FEMA and the OIG consistently and routinely agree upon. Of the 103 current open recommendations from OIG, FEMA has concurred with all but three of them, and resolves recommendations within six months, 90% of the time. However, as stated in the management response section, FEMA did not concur with the OIG recommendations in this report.
“The law authorizes FEMA to make factual determinations that support the scope of work in this instance. Throughout the audit process, agency staff provided detailed documentation to the OIG demonstrating that Hurricane Katrina significantly damaged the City of New Orleans infrastructure, and the scope of work to repair this damage was eligible under FEMA’s Public Assistance program. FEMA’s review of the New Orleans infrastructure damage included consultation with highly qualified technical experts who specialize in engineering, utilities, pavements, soils, and construction. The assessment included site visits and documentation from numerous site inspections performed by roadway engineers and other technical experts; pre- and post-Katrina aerial imagery; pre- and post-Katrina closed-circuit television inspections of sanitary sewer lines; pre- and post-Katrina water loss and repair records; debris collection data; flood inundation maps; and consultation with roadway design specialists.
“The eligible work to repair these sewer and water systems within the City of New Orleans requires the Sewerage & Water Board to excavate city streets. Approximately 90 percent of the funds FEMA approved were for additional street repairs, which FEMA’s subject matter experts and engineers determined were necessary to restore the function of the street upon the completion of eligible sewer and water repair work.
“FEMA is currently reviewing the OIG’s report and recommendation that $2.04 billion in relief funds should be disallowed based on the OIG’s disagreement with FEMA’s subject matter experts and engineers. FEMA and DHS welcome the opportunity to engage further with the OIG to resolve the OIG’s findings through DHS’s established audit resolution process.”
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