Letter to President George W. Bush
September 27, 2005
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The devastation wrought by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to our Gulf Coast states is
without recent precedent and the hurricane season is not over yet. These events have and
will affect the lives of millions of Americans for months, if not years, to come. We
applaud your leadership in directing the federal government's vast resources to address
the needs of the families and communities so torn apart by these catastrophic storms.
We pledge our support to work with you in providing the funds necessary to support the
rebuild of our coastal states. To that end we have acted upon your recent requests for
appropriated funds exceeding nearly $62 billion. We understand that additional funds
will be required in the near future.
We know you agree with the public's and our concern that the magnitude of public funds
committed to this task in such a compressed time frame creates difficult management and
accountability challenges. Indeed the level of federal funds provided in less than three
weeks, was equivalent to funding two new Departments of Homeland Security.
In the latest supplemental Congress provided $15 million to bolster the Office of
Inspector General within the Department of Homeland Security for audits and
investigations as authorized by law for Hurricane Katrina response and recovery
activities. Last week your DHS Inspector General announced the establishment of a
special office for Hurricane Katrina reporting to him.
However, with additional public funds forthcoming and insuring that all public officials
(federal, state, and local) are held accountable for the funds entrusted to them are spent
promptly, efficiently and effectively, we respectfully submit that one, centralized
Inspector General for Hurricane Oversight be established.
This officer would be provided with all necessary authorities to oversee all federal
hurricane and disaster spending. The officer would have audit and inspection authority
over all federal agencies, plus any state and local agency that received federal funds
authorized for hurricane response and recovery. This officer would immediately refer
any case of fraud or criminal activity to the Department of Justice. The officer would
coordinate all disaster investigations and audits as necessary with the Internal Revenue
Service IG. This independent officer would report to you and the Congress on a regular
and ongoing basis. Sufficient resources including field personnel in the affected localities
must be provided, including broad authority to detail or redirect existing personnel from
current Agency IG offices.
We believe that the need to have one independent, high level, tough and visible Inspector
General assigned to this task is critical both to ensuring the American public that their
taxpayer dollars will be spent for the specific purposes they have been authorized,
efficiently and with the utmost integrity.
William H. Frist, M.D.
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Conference Vice Chair