More than nine years after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, billions of tax dollars in recovery funds remain in limbo because the vast majority of federally backed projects in New Orleans have yet to be properly documented.
It is the job of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, which has administered $14.5 billion in recovery grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency since 2005, to document that the projects were completed according to federal regulations and that there are no outstanding funding issues.
Without such certification, determining how many tax dollars might have been wasted, and by whom, is a nearly impossible task. Some of the uncertified projects have not even been started, even thought the funds were paid.
An estimated 20,000 of the 24,000 projects that were funded with FEMA money have yet to be settled despite years of critical reports by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.