NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 7, 2006

The government continues to waste tens of millions of dollars in its Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, including giving rent checks to evacuees already living in free housing and student aid to ineligible foreigners, say Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigators.

According to the GAO, much of the waste has come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including:

  • Nearly $17 million in improper or fraudulent rental payments to evacuees already living for free in trailers provided by the agency.
  • Nearly $20 million in double payments to people who claimed damage to the same property from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  • Some $3 million has been given to more than 500 foreign students who are ineligible for aid.
  • Another $156,000 was given to 25 foreign workers in the United States on temporary work visas.
  • Overall, FEMA has been able to recoup only $7 million of the more than $1 billion in improper payments identified by investigators months ago.

"The taxpayers are the new victims here," the GAO's Greg Kutz told the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee during the fourth and final hearing into government waste, fraud and abuse related to Katrina.

Source: Mimi Hall, "Katrina aid is still being abused, U.S. investigators say," USA Today, December 7, 2006.

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