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Waste and Fraud

Mustang Bobby highlights a Miami Herald article about a GAO study of the FEMA aid distributed after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

What may not be obvious from the reporting is that the GAO is talking about “worst case” when it says that up to 16% or $1.4 billion of the money may have been wasted through fraud and/or misuse. Scout of First Draft, your source for all things Katrina, notes that Facing South‘s Chris Kromm has dug deeper and notes that the estimate is based on a finding of 1,500 potential fraud cases with a total value of $16.8 million.

To put this in context on July 5, 2005 I wrote: “FEMA wants Floridians to return $27 million in aid ‘overpayments’ based on a review of the money that they handed out before the 2004 election. This does not include the money that FEMA handed out in Miami-Dade county; that Florida Senator Nelson pointed out was not actually struck by a hurricane.”

Given the devastation of Katrina and Rita, it looks like FEMA tightened up since the year before, but they are still not handling money very well.

For more context, Maru notes that Congress is going to get a cost of living pay raise of $3,300, a $1,765,500 budget increase, not counting the Judiciary increases that are tied to Congressional salaries.

2 comments

1 Steve Bates { 06.16.06 at 12:37 am }

Bryan, you actually anticipated an item in Jay Leno’s monologue tonight. (Stella rarely misses it, which means I see it once or twice a week.) Leno used the high-end figure, but his observation was reasonable: think of how much more money would have been distributed to fraudulent applicants if FEMA had been truly competent. 🙂

2 Bryan { 06.16.06 at 7:21 pm }

Given all of the tools available, even if you ignore the illegal tools the Feds have put into place, there is no reason for this to happen. You can verify an address on-line through the post office, you can get NASA pictures of the devastated areas, you can use Google to see what an address looks like. There are just too many tools to verify the information supplied.

I can’t believe the funds or debit cards don’t have restrictions on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, etc. That is slapped on almost every other federal program.