Walker: FEMA lacks financial reporting for Katrina

Disaster Relief: Governmentwide Framework Needed to Collect and Consolidate Information to Report...

Comptroller General David Walker announced today three new Government Accountability Office reports detailing the problems surrounding the response to Hurricane Katrina.

One of reports recommends that the Federal Emergency Management Agency develop a governmentwide framework for gathering and reporting financial information about the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes.

“It's a microcosm of a problem in the government on a whole,” Walker said at a press conference at the Ronald Reagan National Building in Washington, D.C. The Partnership for Public Service organized the conference.

According to GAO, FEMA lacks a mechanism to request and report the financial activity of agencies working under FEMA in an emergency situation. The information includes obligations, expenditures and emergency supplemental appropriations, the last of which amounts to nearly $88 billion distributed among 23 federal agencies. No central collection point exists to “compile and report how funds are being spent,” GAO said.

"The ability to separately track and report on these funds is important to help ensure better accountability and clearly identify the status of funding provided in direct response to these hurricanes," the report states.

Steven Pecinovsky, director of DHS’ Departmental GAO/Office of Inspector General Liaison Office, concurred with most of GAO’s findings. In a letter published in the report, he generally agreed with the agency’s recommendation to request and include obligation and expenditure data from any agencies working on assignments under FEMA.

“We believe that the creation of the data collection, consolidation and reporting process, and policy should include and involve all federal agencies involved with the funding,” Pecinovsky said.

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