Monday, December 18, 2006

Daily Advertiser editorializes against ICF

Speaking in Lafayette last Thursday, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, joined in the harsh criticism of the private firm responsible for awarding recovery grants in Louisiana's "Road Home" program.

ICF International Inc. is the contractor hired by the Blanco administration to dispense $7.5 billion in federal funds for repair of owner-occupied houses damaged by last year's hurricanes. It is a lucrative undertaking for the Fairfax, Va.-based company. In all, ICF expects to make $756 million off the Road Home contract.

Vitter says the program is an "utter disaster." Of 80,000 applications sent in recently, he says he knows of 60 checks that were mailed out.
The senator is not alone in his criticism. Even Gov. Blanco, who worked with the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Office of Community Development in structuring the program, has expressed disappointment. In mid-November, she reportedly demanded that ICF explain why only 27 families had received money from the program, when an estimated 123,000 homes need restoration.

The administration did not strongly defend the program when state lawmakers launched a blistering attack on it during a recent House and Senate committee meeting. Suzie Elkins, director of the governor's Office of Community Development, which monitors the program, said 68 of the 123,000 eligible homeowners have received grants.

Commissioner of Administration Jerry Luke LeBlanc acknowledged that the pace is unsatisfactory.

The Associated Press says New Orleans lawmakers feel there is a lack of urgency on the part of state officials, and, according to the wire service, blame it on the fact that those officials "don't return home each day to devastated neighborhoods where people sleep in gutted homes without furniture or in rat-infested trailers."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is what happens when you bring a former White House appointee to a private firm, then use him to secure a virtually uncompeted contract worth a billion dollars. This whole thing smacks of cronyism. The legislature should review the proposals that came in, and see who really was most qualified to do the work. Bet it wasn't ICF.