Saturday, February 18, 2006

FEMA = Fraud+Equivocation+ Mismanagement+Abuse

Well, here’s something you don’t see everyday – government bureaucrats wasting my hard earned tax dollars (and they get paid for this, too?). It seems that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) purchased 24,967 prefabricated homes at a cost of $857.8 million, and 1,295 modular homes at a cost of $40 million to house residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, Richard Skinner, stated in testimony to the Senate that "it is unclear how the decision was made" to spend $900 million on the more than 26,000 homes given that FEMA's own regulations prohibit the use of mobile homes in flood plains. Duh-uh-uh!

As a result, FEMA cannot use the homes in coastal Louisiana and Mississippi, where they are desperately needed. Some have been sent to fire victims in Texas and Oklahoma and to those few flood victims who live outside flood plains. But for the rest, around 20,000 prefabricated homes or three-quarters of them, the agency is establishing a staff of "sales personnel" to sell them for pennies on the dollar. They'll be lucky to get rid of them at all. Many of the homes, including nearly 10,000 sitting in open fields near Hope, Ark., are already unusable because they have become warped from sinking into the mud. Oh, and no one loses a job over this. Not one bureaucrat! Not even a scapegoat. At least in the private sector, you’d have the satisfaction of seeing some clueless functionary taking the blame for the loss of $700 million dollars.

How could FEMA waste nearly $1 billion on unusable housing? More to the point: How could FEMA have been totally unprepared to buy homes for hurricane victims, given that the agency makes similar purchases almost every year? Tell me there isn’t some FEMA bureaucrat whose brother is in the prefab home business. Tell me!