New GAO Report Critical of Federal Block Grants Pledged for Recovery

Disaster Recovery: Better Monitoring of Block Grant Funds Is Needed.  Report ispages long; summary is available. Here is the direct link to the recommendations.

Use of the $35 billion in federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds for the 2017 hurricanes has been slow.Over a year after the first funds were appropriated, much of the money remains unspent because grantees in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still in planning phases. Also, the Department of Housing and Urban Development doesn’t have the review guidance and monitoring plans it needs for good grantee oversight. We recommended ways to improve the oversight of disaster funding and better meet disaster recovery needs.

Update on 3/26. Here is a another, hard-hitting account of the deficiencies at HUD: Key Federal Agency Doesn’t Have the Staff to Oversee $35B in 2017 Hurricane Recovery Money

A key agency charged with overseeing $35 billion in federal disaster aid Congress appropriated after the record-setting 2017 hurricane season lacks sufficient staff to oversee the funds and is not taking proper precautions against fraud, according to a new report.

A slow start to the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program has led to virtually none of the funds being disbursed, despite Congress approving the spending more than a year ago. HUD’s “ad hoc” approach to overseeing and monitoring the funds has created lags in four states and territories—Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—providing relief to individuals affected by the hurricanes, the Government Accountability Office found.

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