Monday, February 13, 2006

Gov't: Some Katrina aid wasted

Government aid that gets wasted? Pshaw!
In its rush to provide Katrina disaster aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency wasted millions of dollars and overpaid for hotel rooms, including $438-a-day lodging in New York City, government investigators said Monday.

Two reports released by the Government Accountability Office and the Homeland Security Department's office of inspector general detail a series of accounting flaws, fraud or mismanagement in their initial review of how $85 billion in federal aid is being spent.

The two audits found that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid under FEMA's emergency cash assistance program — which included the $2,000 debit cards given to evacuees — were based on duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or false addresses and names.

This should surprise no one. First off, anytime government money is involved, there will be waste. There not as much personal accountability when you are doling out money that is not yours or your organizations, and which seems to grow on trees. Second, there are always those that will game the system. Third, the environment was ripe for gaming the system. There was a lot of money being made available and the critical response to the Government's handling of things meant that people were probably more likely to get the benefit of the doubt or slip through when they should not have gotten anything.

Filtering more money through private organizations may have decreased the amount of waste, but it still would have been there. Such is life with a government that tries to have all the solutions. I don't like it and neither should you, but as long as we put up with it, this is what we are going to get.

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