The devastation experienced throughout the Gulf Coast region 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, and abuse. This testimony discusses how three agencies--the General Services Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps)--conducted oversight of key contracts used in response to the hurricanes. Efforts are ongoing by these agencies to address issues GAO and others have identified.
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