Letter: Article mischaracterizes Bechtel's post-Katrina work

IG to DHS: Spend more wisely” inaccurately characterized Bechtel’s work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in providing post-Hurricane Katrina housing for Mississippians, and misrepresented the July congressional testimony of [Homeland Security Department] Inspector General Richard Skinner about our work.

A closer look at the record would have revealed that Bechtel provided temporary housing for nearly 100,000 people in Mississippi displaced by Katrina. FEMA officials have called Bechtel’s rapid mobilization and work a remarkable success. Bechtel mobilized 1,000 personnel in 20 days, peaking at 2,800 personnel who installed more than 35,000 units. Overcoming challenges of ruined infrastructure and a widely scattered local workforce, Bechtel delivered and installed almost 370 trailer installations per day for the months of October and November -- according to FEMA, a rate “faster than at any time in FEMA's history.”

Furthermore, the IG did not say that Bechtel had performed poorly. He expressed concern with the oversight and recordkeeping of FEMA, and commented on an ongoing assessment regarding the use of parts from damaged or unusable trailers to complete others that were being readied for occupancy. 

Bechtel is proud of our record in Mississippi and of the work of our employees who performed heroically under the most challenging of circumstances. 

Howard Menaker
Manager of Public Affairs
Bechtel National

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