19 November 2006

Road to Nowhere Program

Although I know it is not too hard to believe that the State of Louisiana could screw-up handing out $7.5 billion to those in need in order to rebuild in New Orleans, the stupidity of the entire Road Home Program would be laugh-out-loud funny if it did not effect so many peoples already shattered lives.

For those of you who are not aware of how the state has bungled this important opportunity to show the Nation that we can take care of our own business, it starts with the state awarding a $87 million contract (a portion of the larger overall contract that will be awarded) to a Fairfax, VA based company called ICF International. It is ICF's job to manage the process of delivering the money to the people in a timely manner. So far ICF has managed to send a letter to a total of 83 homeowners telling them how much money they will get to rebuild their lives. Whatt is even worse than sending out a total of 83 letters is that there is no timetable in place for actually getting money to individuals. It is a terribly pathetic arrangement.

Gov. Blanco has started making noise to cover her butt. She is demanding that ICF deliver 10,000 letters to homeowners by the end of November telling them how much money they will receive from the program. ICF has claimed they will work through the Thanksgiving holiday to meet the Govenor's mandate. How big of them; maybe they should all try cooking Thanksgiving dinner in a 380 square foot FEMA trailer to get a bit more motivated to do their job.

The total number of applicants continues to be a mystery, but it is somewhere between 80,000 and 120,000 according to various reports. Our Govenor is mandating that the state's contractor have letters (no money yet!) sent to 10,000 of these applicants by the end of the month (approximately 10 percent of the total applicants). Even these people who receive letters will likely not see a dime from the program for many months. The Govenor, the contractor ICF, and the state of Louisiana should be ashamed; I know I am.

Worse, why has the state continued to pay large amounts of money to an out-of-state contractor that has miserably failed at meeting the contract requirements? Govenor Blanco talks about cleaning up politics in Louisiana, but this arrangement really smells, and in Louisiana if it smells like corruption, it usually is. Time for our Governor to live up to her empty promises and fire ICF International, and hire local contractors who care about the future of the state, its economy and most importantly its citizens to get the job done. It is not just the fiscally responsible thing to do, it is the only morally just thing to do.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, Road Home Program, ICF International


At November 19, 2006 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe this is why Governor Blanco took her name off the program... I frequently heard it referred to as "Governor Blanco's Road Home Program" on TV advertisements... no more, though.

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At November 19, 2006 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plenty of states and the federal government use ICF. If you look at the want ads in the Washington Post and elsewhere for policy research jobs, many of them will be with ICF. It's not a company that only Louisiana would do business with, or that has some special/smarmy Louisiana connections.

Whether governments are outsourcing far too much administrative work is entirely another question. Another whether the work should be outsourced during an emergency or, say, a war (see Iraq, but that would likely have been a disaster even without corp. outsourcing, for Bush never had a strategy), or even whether such matters can be handled well by a large corporate outsource group to begin with.

At November 20, 2006 8:24 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

If ICF had done the job with any level of efficency no one would know who they were.
The fact that they have fumbled so badly suggests the Company bears further scrutiny.

All you ever hear is'nothing like this has been done before", well in this case what is NOT being done is of more interest than what IS being done.

At November 20, 2006 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To say ICF has stumbled says to me you have not done your research. Due to policy changes, the final phase of the program has been held up. As you can see a great amount of work has been done.

Latest Program Statistics (as of November 14, 2006)

● Total applications received and recorded to date: 76,956

● Appointments scheduled or held: 45,363

● Awards calculated:

● Amount of benefits calculated: $270.2 million

● Average award: $60,251

At November 20, 2006 2:42 PM, Blogger I. D. Reilly said...

I suppose the Times-Picayune has not done their research either. Check out Sunday's editorial (http://www.nola.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-3/116392116676780.xml?NOED&coll=1). A grand total of 28 people have been paid out of the Road to Nowhere Program, while thousands of worthless letters have been sent. Meanwhile I bet ICF is getting all of their invoices paid by the state. I am not alone in wondering what the hell is going on.

At November 21, 2006 12:47 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

When the Road Home Program announced that update in the past they would include the number of checks written.
They have stopped doing that, why?

I have done my homework, and I have the trashed house to prove it.

At November 22, 2006 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Karen...that progress update has never had checks written. I have been monitoring it very early on.


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