Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Lots of Money = Big Temptations.

BATON ROUGE -- As state and parish government agencies prepare to recoup billions of federal dollars for costs associated with Hurricane Katrina, state Treasurer John Kennedy says that there are not enough safeguards in place to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.

Kennedy said Monday he has complained to Gov. Kathleen Blanco about a decision to let the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness serve as the main conduit for Federal Emergency Management Agency money that is expected to begin flowing this week.

Kennedy proposed that each expenditure of federal cash over a certain threshold be reviewed and authorized in advance by his office and by Legislative Auditor Steve Theriot. “My people are prepared to work 24 hours a day, in shifts, but it's got to be done right,’’ Kennedy said.

He said the need for careful checks and balances is particularly acute in Louisiana, which has a reputation for political corruption. “You don't have to be clairvoyant to see that Louisiana is going to be held to a higher standard in terms of how we support this money (with documentation),’’ Kennedy said. “And we should be.’’

Kennedy is right. Louisianans need to demand strict accounting of all federal funds. There is plenty of opportunity for graft and inside dealing in $51 billion.

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