Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) called for increased transparency from the Christie Administration in its dealings with the contractors responsible for administering Superstorm Sandy relief funds. Pallone cited recent media reports that the Christie Administration has expanded the role of an existing contractor that will now oversee the distribution of Sandy aid dollars previously managed by Hammerman and Gainer Inc. (HGI), whose $68 million contract was terminated by the state last year without explanation from the state with a $36 million payout after completing only seven months of a three year contract.
ICF International, a Virginia-based firm, has been engaged by the Christie Administration to manage the disbursement of Sandy aid including the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program, which can be used by Sandy victims to rebuild and repair their homes. Thousands of New Jerseyans have noted that rebuilding funds have been slow moving with many still awaiting payments to assist with the cost of repairs to their homes nearly a year and half after the storm made landfall.
"It is outrageous that Sandy relief for homeowners has been delayed for so long," said Pallone. "I am constantly hearing from my constituents that they are still waiting for the help they so desperately need, yet all we hear from the Governor's office is that they are hiring and firing contractors without explanation and without results. Enough is enough. Sandy victims deserve better than this and the Christie Administration needs to spell out exactly where the relief dollars are being spent and disclose what these contractors are actually being paid to do."
Pallone called on the Christie Administration to explain the scope of the work contractors have been hired to conduct as well as their progress. He criticized the sluggish distribution of aid to New Jerseyans and called for immediate action to ensure that Sandy victims get the help they need to rebuild from the storm. Pallone also noted that the state's contract with ICF had no specified limit, so there is currently no way to determine how much relief money will be paid out to the contractor as opposed to directly reaching Sandy victims.
"Sandy reconstruction has been wrought with inexcusable delays," said Pallone. "I didn't fight as hard as I did to get the Sandy relief package passed in Congress in the face of unconscionable opposition, just to see those dollars held up and mismanaged here in New Jersey. We need to know where the money is, what contractors are doing with it and why it is not in the hands of those who need it to repair their homes. It is time for the Christie Administration to be straight with New Jerseyans and help residents rebuild."