29 November 2007 | Paul Snell
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wasted more than $30 million (£14.5 million) through poor contract management, a report has found.
Washington's Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to examine 15 contracts awarded by FEMA to maintain trailers set up for those who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina.
It criticised FEMA for not awarding contracts to the lowest bidder and for paying contractors even though work had not been carried out. FEMA spent $48.2 million (£23.4 million) on maintenance contracts, but would only have spent $32.5 million (£15.7 million) if it had gone with the lowest bidders.
The report added FEMA had paid $16 million (£7.7. million) in improper or potentially fraudulent invoices that should not have been authorised. The invoices were for maintenance work that needed to be inspected monthly, and out-of-hours work. But FEMA had no records of where maintenance had been carried out, nor documents that showed inspections had been conducted.
James McIntyre, spokesman for FEMA, said: "FEMA has repeatedly acknowledged that we made mistakes. FEMA genuinely regrets those mistakes, yet we have learnt from them."