Agency Comments and Our Evaluation
FEMA provided written comments on a draft of this report in which it concurred with all six of our recommendations and outlined actions it has taken that are designed to address each of these recommendations. As part of its response, FEMA also provided background of the events leading up to the award of the MD and GSM contracts and detailed some of the overall improvements the agency stated it has made since Hurricane Katrina. These comments are reprinted in appendix III.
Concerning our recommendation to collect overpayments from the contractors, FEMA stated that it intends to assess whether it made overpayments and, if so, plans to assert claims against the contractors for the appropriate amount. In response to our recommendation to issue task orders to companies at the lowest cost, FEMA stated that has reallocated work under the GSM contracts on a “low price basis per site” and under the MD contracts on a “best value basis.” In response to our recommendation to inventory mobile homes and trailers, create a database, and link work assigned to the contractors with specific unit barcodes, FEMA states that it began an invoice-matching project in March 2007 and is in the process of completing an inventory count to ensure that all the temporary housing units at the sites are recorded in the agency’s existing management system. Concerning our recommendation that FEMA enforce the existing payment and invoice review process, FEMA states that it has established an Acquisition Program Management Office (PMO) that is in charge of enforcing the process. In addition, FEMA notes that the PMO has developed guidance and training on what constitutes proper invoice documentation and has also obtained the services of a contractor to automate the payment process to provide automatic calculation checks and line item tracking. FEMA states that it is also implementing a COTR training program and initiatives aimed at converting from paper to electronic files, developing a COTR program policy, and creating a comprehensive database of COTR information. With regard to our recommendation to evaluate the allocation of trailers and work at the groups sites in order to achieve savings, FEMA states that it is working to close and consolidate the sites and that it has reallocated work under both the GSM and MD contracts.
Finally, concerning our recommendation that FEMA create permanent partnerships with other agencies to determine whether there are less expensive options that meet the needs of disaster victims, FEMA states that it has established a task force called the Joint Housing Solutions Group to evaluate other methods of housing disaster victims. In addition, as indicated in our report, FEMA states that it has implemented the Alternative Housing Pilot Program and has also entered into an
GAO-08-106 Hurricane Katrina