Commentary: Road Home Grant Money Going to Waste

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The latest example of astonishing wasteful government spending in Post-Katrina New Orleans was described in a recent report by the Times-Picayune. In this example of progress impeded by bureaucratic incompetence, a study by a federal inspector general found that 80% of sampled recipients of Road Home elevation grants in 2006 and 2007 failed to use the grants for its intended purpose: to elevate their homes.

That means that 80% of the $3.8 million granted to this sample pool was wasted. Worse, officials fear the second round of grants in 2008 and 2009 could also have been squandered. This just highlights the need for internal auditing and transparency of government expenditures, as well as further private (re: efficient) financing of rebuilding efforts in the New Orleans area.

Of course, private investment cannot be the sole source of rebuilding in New Orleans. Government has an important role to play in emergency situations such as a natural disaster. But government cannot make effective use of taxpayer money if it lacks the necessary auditing. With better oversight and increased transparency, this money could help far more people rebuild than it currently does.

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