FEMA has a serious problem with the way it doles out federal disaster relief.
Just last month, a watchdog reported that $4.7 million in Hurricane Katrina aid had either been misused or not used at all. And an investigation by the Associated Press revealed that the agency is currently trying to recoup more than $5.8 million from Hurricane Sandy victims, saying it gave out too much money.
Federal auditors routinely flag the agency for lax oversight and questionable spending practices. Now, they say that the agency allocated $12 million dollars more than it should have to assist Cedar Rapids, Iowa while responding to a severe flood that devastated the community in 2008.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General says FEMA allocated $20.6 million to replace four buildings that could have been fixed for $8.57 million.
The IG said that the error occurred because the agency didn’t follow federal guidelines, adding that the four buildings, including a public library, animal control facilities and a park maintenance shop, could have been renovated and should not have been completely replaced.
“FEMA needs to improve and refine its calculations in regard to repairing or replacing damaged facilities,” The IG said in the report.
Not unexpectedly when IGs criticize any of the agencies that misuse taxpayer funds, regional FEMA employees and city officials disagreed with the IG and said the buildings needed to be replaced. Who wouldn’t want a new, state of the art building instead of an old one, fixed up?
Fortunately for Cedar Rapids, the government will not be collecting the extra $12 million as it has in previous cases where FEMA over-allocated funds.
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