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New report shows FEMA money failing to get to those in need

The report says the ETA, a program FEMA funds, should do more to help vulnerable states prepare for disaster unemployment assistance program implementation.

TAMPA, Fla. — FEMA money is failing to get to those in need. That's the conclusion of a new report out Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General.

The report was part of an audit following hurricanes that impacted the U.S. in 2017.

It's hard to forget the devastation Hurricane Irma brought to Florida, Harvey to Houston and Maria to Puerto Rico. The new report from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General shows the $85 million allocated to the Employment Training Administration (ETA) program failed to help prepare vulnerable states for disaster unemployment assistance. 

The report states: "We found ETA’s oversight of states vulnerable to major disasters was inadequate. Specifically, ETA did not establish adequate controls to ensure states paid DUA benefits only to eligible individuals and paid them as promptly as administratively feasible.

ETA did not establish adequate controls to ensure states paid benefits only to eligible claimants. ETA did not make a timely on-site monitoring visit to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FLDEO), or ensure FLDEO and the Virgin Islands Department of Labor (VIDOL) provided DUA training to their staffs or ensure they had developed DUA-specific standard operating procedures as required by the DUA handbook.”

The report also found that at least $5.6 million could have been put to better use. And when it came to how timely benefits were paid out, only 27 percent of claims were paid within 21 days. 

The report recommended three changes for the assistant secretary for employment and training: 

1. Establish policies, procedures, and controls to ensure states provide DUA staff annual training and have required written state DUA policies and procedures in place. 

2. Create a rapid response team consisting of federal and state officials capable of providing technical and other assistance to states impacted by major disasters. 

3. Recover $95,699 in questioned costs from the FLDEO and VIDOL for participants whose eligibility they could not substantiate. 

The ETA generally agreed with the three recommendations. If you would like to see the report, click here.

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