Coburn and Obama Call FEMA Decision to Rebid No-Bid Hurricane Relief Contracts a Victory for Taxpayers
U.S. Senators Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL) today said the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) decision to rebid millions of dollars worth of federal hurricane-relief contracts awarded with little or no competition is a victory for taxpayers.
The Associated Press has reported that FEMA's acting director R. David Paulison said millions of dollars worth of contracts awarded with little or no competition will be rebid. More than 80 percent of at least $1.5 billion in FEMA contracts were awarded with little or no competition.
"FEMA's decision to rebid millions of dollars worth of hurricane relief contracts that were awarded with little or no competition is a victory for all taxpayers as well as the next generation that is already burdened with enormous debts," Coburn and Obama said. "However, the fact that these contracts were ever signed in the first place underscores the importance of creating a Chief Financial Officer to oversee the Hurricane Katrina reconstruction efforts. It is crucial that we put one person in charge of constantly monitoring the billions of dollars being spent before that money goes out the door. Creating a team of inspectors general is a well-intentioned but deeply flawed approach that will only create a longer list of lessons learned' but not dollars saved."
Coburn and Obama introduced a bill to create a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) to oversee all expenditures associated with the Hurricane Katrina relief and reconstruction effort. The Hurricane Katrina CFO would be appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, staffed with experts from relevant federal agencies, and would have management and oversight over any agency using federal funds for the recovery. The CFO would issue monthly financial reports to Congress, and the Government Accountability Office would issue quarterly reports to Congress reviewing the work of the CFO and recovery activities.
"Richard Skinner, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security said that FEMA officials awarding contracts took a lot of shortcuts that may have resulted in a lot of waste'," Coburn and Obama said. "We should appoint a CFO immediately to ensure that rebuilding and reconstruction money gets to the people who need it the most."