Series of accounting flaws, fraud and mismanagement found in $85bn hurricane aid program
Two audits looking at the spending of disaster relief aid to help rebuild
areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina said the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA), the body tasked with managing how relief money is spent, wasted millions
of dollars of this money.
Money was wasted on such things as overpaying for hotel rooms and in giving
$2,000 debit cards to people with duplicate or invalid social security numbers,
or false addresses and names.
The audits were carried out by the Government Accountability Office and the
Homeland Security Department and released jointly by the Senate Homeland
Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the committee, decried the findings,
saying: ‘The problem, once again, is that FEMA failed to prepare for the very
type of disaster that happens every year.’
‘This “pay first, ask questions later” approach has been an invitation to
unscrupulous behavior,’ she added.
Federal prosecutors at the Justice Department have filed fraud, theft and
other charges against 212 people accused of scams related to Gulf Coast
hurricanes, with forty people having pled guilty so far.