The devastation experienced by those throughout the Gulf Coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has called into question the government's ability to effectively respond to such disasters. The government needs to understand what went right and what went wrong, and to apply these lessons to strengthen its disaster response and recovery operations. The federal government relies on partnerships across the public and private sectors to achieve critical results in preparing for and responding to natural disasters, with an increasing reliance on contractors to carry out specific aspects of its missions. At the same time, the acquisition functions at several agencies are on GAO's high risk list, indicating a vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. GAO was asked to provide an overview of (1) its role in evaluating the contracting community with regard to disaster preparedness and response; (2) GAO's plans for reviewing the performance of the federal government and its contractors in preparing for and responding to the hurricanes; and (3) what GAO has learned so far about the performance of the federal government and its contractors in preparing for and responding to the hurricanes.
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