Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed homes and displaced millions of individuals. While the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues to respond to this disaster, GAO's previous work identified significant control weaknesses--specifically in FEMA's Individuals and Households Program (IHP) and in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) purchase card program--resulting in significant fraud, waste, and abuse. Today's testimony will address whether FEMA provided improper and potentially fraudulent (1) rental assistance payments to registrants at the same time it was providing free housing via trailers and apartments; (2) duplicate assistance payments to individuals who claimed damages to the same property for both hurricanes Katrina and Rita; and (3) IHP payments to non-U.S. residents who did not qualify for IHP. This testimony will also discuss (1) the importance of fraud identification and prevention, and (2) the results of our investigation into property FEMA bought using DHS purchase cards. To address these objectives, GAO data mined and analyzed FEMA records and interviewed city officials, university officials, and foreign students. GAO also traveled to Louisiana and Texas to inspect selected property items and to investigate improper housing payments to individuals living in FEMA-provided housing.
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