Inadequate FEMA Oversight Delayed Completion and Closeout of Louisiana's Public Assistance Projects
FEMA did not ensure Louisiana adequately managed and provided oversight of PA grants to make certain they complied with Federal regulations. Specifically, Louisiana had a backlog of 600 incomplete projects beyond their approved completion dates. We attributed this to the State not conducting regular site visits to assess subrecipients’ ongoing projects, identify and resolve issues as they arose, or ensure prompt project completion. In addition, FEMA had a backlog of 2,150 completed grant projects it had not closed out due to inadequate oversight of its Region 6 staff to ensure they promptly carried out this responsibility. As of the fourth quarter of 2018, the combined backlog of 2,750 grant projects represented nearly $6.6 billion in obligated funds. By May 2020, FEMA had reduced the backlog, but the significant number of remaining projects could lead to delays reimbursing applicants as well as deobligating funds that could be put to better use. We made three recommendations to FEMA to strengthen its oversight of project completion and closeout processes to ensure they are timely and compliant. FEMA concurred with one recommendation and did not concur with two. However, FEMA’s responses resulted in all three recommendations being considered open and unresolved.