Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Disaster Relief: Prevention Is the Key to Minimizing Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Recovery Efforts

GAO-07-418T Published: Jan 29, 2007. Publicly Released: Jan 29, 2007.
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Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed homes and displaced millions of individuals. While federal and state governments continue to respond to this disaster, GAO has identified significant control weaknesses--specifically in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) and in Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s purchase card program--resulting in significant fraud, waste, and abuse. In response to the numerous recommendations GAO made, DHS and FEMA have reported on numerous actions taken to address our recommendations. Lessons learned from GAO's prior work can serve as a framework for an effective fraud prevention system for federal and state governments as they consider spending billions more on disaster recovery. These lessons are particularly important because funding that is lost to fraud, waste, and abuse reduces the amount of money that could be delivered to victims in need. Today's testimony will (1) describe key findings from past GAO work and (2) use the results from that work and GAO's other experiences to discuss the importance of an effective fraud, waste and abuse prevention program.

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