Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

DHS Audit: Feb 2005 audit showed significant management problems

Who says DHS wasn't doing their job? In Feb 2005, they found that Louisiana wasn't up to par.

Should we be surprised?

Audit summaries, contrasted with Katrina performance:

"needed to improve its program and financial management controls" [3 of 37] . . .
"noncompliance situations"[3 of 37] . . .
"did not adequately document its monitoring" [page 5 of 37]

Key concern open until next disaster

"Target Date: Open until the next disaster, then ongoing" [16 of 37]

Payments made without reviewing subcontractor results

"LHLS/EP's procedures were to pay subgrantees the entire Federal share of large projects without regard to the subgrantee's actual disbursement of funds for the project." [17 of 37] "overpayment of $183,029" [18 of 37]

Disaster manning inadequate

"when these disasters occurred, staffing was inadequate to administer payments for small projects." [19 of 37] -- meaning: If they don't have the people in place prior to the disater, Katrina will simply place a greater burden on already inadequate staff.

Management indicateded that they would increase manning by 1 Sept 2005. The question will be: Putting aside Katrina, how far behind was Louisiana in meeting this original target date of 1 Sept 2005?

Program monitoring showed loose oversight

"most files lacked documentation of contacts with the subgrantee" [21 of 37] -- Meaning, there wasn't adequate support to justify confidence management was interfacing in plant with subcontractors on progress relative to program milestones.

Program completion not effectively tracked

"did not contain closeout documentation such as final inspection reports" [21 of 37]; "no additional closeout documentation was found for . . . 50 percent . . . of the . . . additional subgrantee . . . files reviewed." . . . The files did not track the projects . . . ; did not always include documentation . . . ; and did not always provide evidence . . . we could not evaluate the adequacy of the grantee’s monitoring and closure . . . [22 of 37]

Other information

$60M in FEMA funding for Louisiana went missing since 1998.

Louisiana Officials Indicted Before Katrina Hit
Federal audits found dubious expenditures by the state's emergency preparedness agency, which will administer FEMA hurricane aid.
By Ken Silverstein and Josh Meyer
Times Staff Writers

September 17, 2005

a Nov. 30, 2004, report by Tonda L. Hadley, a director in the Denton field office, examined $40.5 million sent to the Louisiana agency, mostly for the Hazard Mitigation program. The report found that the state's emergency office did not have receipts to account for 97% of the $15.4 million it had awarded to subcontractors on 19 major projects.


The day before the report was issued, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana obtained an indictment against Michael L. Brown, deputy director of the Louisiana office of emergency preparedness. (Brown is no relation to former FEMA director Michael D. Brown who resigned this week.) Louisiana's deputy director oversaw the state's Hazard Mitigation program.

Brown was charged with conspiring to obstruct the inspector general's investigation and for making a false statement to a federal investigator.

Michael C. Appe, another senior state agency official, also was charged with obstructing the audit. Months earlier, Appe had been appointed as head of a "surge team" to review projects funded with FEMA money. The team's mission was to help spot abuses.

Both Appe and Brown hold the rank of colonel for their roles in overseeing elements of the state National Guard.

Appe was arrested in Baton Rouge last November, as was Daniel J. Falanga, the state agency's flood-mitigation officer. Falanga was accused of committing perjury before a grand jury investigating misuse of FEMA funds.

FEMA funds redirected


Congress in 1997 to set aside $500,000 for FEMA to create "a comprehensive analysis and plan of all evacuation alternatives for the New Orleans metropolitan area."


Sounds like many people have known about the funding-management issues: What were people actually getting for that funds expenditure?

The idea of a contract isn't simply to allocate funding, but to get a result, outcome, or end product that is an improvement.

It remains to be understood what efforts, if any, were made to more effectively compete the contracts, or get outcomes that were closer to what Congress intended.

To justify continued confidence in government, that government has to achieve results, not simply continue spending funds without an improvement or progress.

This has been going on for many years. Who was the leader responsible for ensuring we got different results, better progress, or something different than "what we had already been getting"?

Last time I checked, that person is the President; and the Republican Congress failed to put pressure on teh President in the wake of 9-11 to ensure the lessons learned were applied.

This is a leadership failure, and this is "the best we can expect" when those who dare use their brain and demand accountability are silenced by JTTF.

Frustrated two years later that nothing materialized, Congress strengthened its directive. This time it ordered "an evacuation plan for a Category 3 or greater storm, a levee break, flood or other natural disaster for the New Orleans area."

They've had plenty of meetings in DHS. FEMA's Brown even recognized New Orleans as being a model program.

With results like this, we can be sure the country requires the catalyst of more disaster to find out what hasn't been effectively resolved.

That is a legitimacy issue. The real issue becomes: What mechanisms can more effectively impose consequences, get results, and translate known problems into credible progress and responsiveness.

There is a reasonable basis to question the current mechansisms. The legal community has failed. We remain concerned that the scope of this failure is much wider.

All this, four years after 9-11. Remember, in 1945, four years after Pearl Harbor, the war was over.

This crew, four years after 9-11, remains comatose, still stuck in the headlights, and believes the public will still accept fairy tales. It looks like there is little to believe there will be a real catalyst for change as the "human toll" is "much less" than the worst case.

Yes, Americans are expendable, just as we have seen in Iraq.

Excuse me while I go to my happy, quiet place and read my book. I find this rather boring. I would like something new.