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Government Waste FEMA Style

September 28th, 2005

I’ve written before about government waste in the Department of Homeland Security, and just recently I’ve been thinking about the high likelihood of waste with the reconstruction effort in Katrina-effected areas of the Gulf Coast. Turns out my fears were right on the money.

The Washington Post reports that FEMA contracted with Carnival to have three full service ships available as temporary housing for evacuees at a tune of $236 Million for six months. The best part of the whole article is a statement from Sen. Coburn and Sen. Obama, reproduced here for your enjoyment.

To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person — and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.

“When the federal government would actually save millions of dollars by forgoing the status quo and actually sending evacuees on a luxurious six-month cruise it is time to rethink how we are conducting oversight. A short-term temporary solution has turned into a long-term, grossly overpriced sweetheart deal for a cruise line,” said Coburn and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in a joint statement yesterday calling for a chief financial officer to oversee Katrina spending.

My question to the Senators, will having a single chief financial officer actually prevent this sort of abuse? Seems we have a single chief-executive officer, and he routinely fails to prevent abuse.

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