Senate Committee Approves Carper Legislation to Provide Financial Oversight for Katrina Recovery

Bills Would Make Sure Federal Funds Are Spent Properly, Go to People in Need

WASHINGTON (Sept. 22, 2005) – In order to make sure Katrina recovery money is spent properly and goes to the people most in need, a Senate panel today approved two pieces of legislation, sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., to require greater financial oversight and accountability regarding the federal government’s expenditures related to the disaster. Congress has already approved more than $62 billion for Katrina recovery efforts and more will be needed. But Carper said that a recovery effort this large needs additional oversight to make sure the money is going where it’s needed, to eliminate waste and to reduce the potential for fraud. “We need to do everything within our power to help those in need, and one of the best ways we can do that is to make sure that the money is going to the right people as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Carper, the senior Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees financial management within the federal government. “This legislation will bring some much-needed accountability to the process of delivering relief funds and ensure that our federal agencies are working together to get the job done.” The first bill that was approved by the committee would appoint a chief financial officer (CFO) to oversee the day-to-day use of federal funds in the cleanup and reconstruction efforts underway in the Gulf. The CFO’s office would be staffed with experts from relevant federal agencies and would have management and oversight duties pertaining to each federal agency involved in the recovery effort. An amendment offered by Sen. Carper and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and accepted by the committee on Thursday would also give the CFO more power to prevent erroneous and fraudulent spending by the government. In addition, every month, the CFO would issue financial reports to Congress on the use of federal funds. These reports would include information about whether the money is going to the people most in need and whether the funds are being used to hire local workers. “We need to make sure we’re helping the people who need it most,” Carper said. “Right now, we’ve got hundreds of thousands of people without homes and many of them are without jobs. We should be doing everything to ensure that we hire local people as we clean up the mess left behind by Katrina and rebuild thousands upon thousands of homes.” The second bill would expand the authority of the Inspector General assigned to Iraq reconstruction to oversee the Katrina recovery efforts as well. The expanded office would perform regular audits of recovery operations and investigate allegations of waste, fraud and inefficiency.