Lawrence County Engineer, Ohio (Lawrence), received a FEMA Public Assistance award of $7.5 million for damages resulting from severe storms and flooding in April and May 2011. Our audit objective was to determine whether Lawrence accounted for and expended FEMA funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines. Lawrence generally accounted for and expended FEMA Public Assistance grant funds according to Federal requirements. In the days following the flood, Lawrence employees worked diligently to clear and reopen roads. However, Lawrence did not follow all Federal procurement standards in awarding 17 contracts totaling $4.5 million that we reviewed. Lawrence awarded the contracts competitively, but did not take all required affirmative steps to ensure the use of small and minority firms, women’s business enterprises, and labor surplus area firms when possible. Therefore, FEMA has little assurance that these types of firms had sufficient opportunities to bid on Federal work to the extent Congress intended. Lawrence also did not include all required provisions in its contracts, which document the rights and responsibilities of Lawrence and its contractors.
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