We have yet another federal program with almost $1 billion missing with little more than a shrug from Congress and the Administration. What is astonishing is that this program only had about $1 billion to start with and over $700 million is missing from a fund that was supposed to be used by homeowners to elevate their homes. Many questioned such programs in funding private homes in high flood areas as well as the lack of controls in handing out hundreds of millions of dollars. Now the government simply says many homeowners simply took the money and ran. HUD Inspector General David Montoya simply says “your guess is as good as mine.” Most of us had hoped that our government would hand out $1 billion on more than a hope and a prayer. We would also had hoped that stealing tens of thousands of dollars would have some consequence for these homeowners.
The report found that more than 24,000 homeowners who received grants of up to $30,000 to elevate their homes either misspent or pocketed the money. However, most took the money and just banked it. What is remarkable is the grading curve used by the government in such failures. Montoya noted that “considering there was just under $1 billion earmarked for this particular program and there’s $700 million that wasn’t used for that, I’d give it a very low D.” A grade of a D? That is less than a thirty percent success rate. In most places outside of the U.S. government, that would be an F.
Of course, this is the same government that was responsible for the recent disclosure of tens of billions of dollars of waste without a single person being disciplined.
In the Katrina waste, there is no talk of demanding the money back or prosecuting the homeowners. Instead Montoya is suggesting a revolutionary reform: pay for work actually done in the future instead of handing out bags of cash. No wonder 30 percent is a passing grade on a federal program.