Skip to main content


After I read about Steve Kornacki's latest reporting on Christie's refusal to allow independent and transparent "accounting oversight" which would detail how the Sandy Recovery Billions were being spent by his administration -- it got me thinking: "This is the smoking gun of graft (or incompetence) if there ever was one."

After reading the following post (and watching the Kornacki clip) -- it left me thinking -- "There's got to be 'more there' there ... more to the story of the Chris Christie single-handedly vetoing the need for public oversight, of the Sandy 'Recovery Business' of New Jersey."

If you haven't seen this earlier DailyKos post, I recommend it highly:

Steve Kornacki: monitoring of Sandy projects has been inadequate (updated w/video)
by Christian Dem in NC -- Feb 01, 2014


Now for my perfunctory 'drilling into' the details behind the headlines ... it's what I do, for what it's worth to the detail-oriented folks, who occasionally frequent my "redundancy" reports ... for whatever notable facts they might glean from them.


Christie vetoes Sandy oversight bill, calling it redundant and wasteful
by Jenna Portnoy, The Star-Ledger, nj.com -- April 25, 2013

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie today vetoed a bill requiring oversight of billions of dollars in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy, despite Democratic objections, calling the measure redundant and wasteful.

“While I thank the sponsors for their efforts, and for sharing in my commitment to the transparent and efficient administration of Sandy recovery funding, this bill would produce unnecessary redundancies and waste government resources,” Christie said in the two-page veto message.

The bill (A61) would have required the treasurer to set up a website to track contracts by county and municipality, issue quarterly reports on recovery dollars and put out “expedited priority reports” explaining any problems the administration encounters.
[...]


ASSEMBLY, No. 61  [Bill A61]

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

[...]
INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 7, 2013

SYNOPSIS   Imposes oversight upon Hurricane Sandy recovery funds.
[...]

An Act imposing oversight upon Hurricane Sandy recovery funds, supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.

Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

      1.   a.  The State Treasurer shall maintain a public website dedicated to the dissemination and transparent administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.  The State Treasurer shall make available on the website New Jersey’s Comprehensive Quarterly Report on Hurricane Sandy Recovery Funding, as constructed pursuant to subsection b. of this section.
[...]

      The State Treasurer shall have ten business days within which to update the website relative to the receipt of information concerning the award of a State contract or State grant or distribution of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.

      b.   The State Treasurer shall provide a report to the Legislature, in accordance with section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), and the Governor concerning the receipt, distribution, and administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding, which report shall be due on the first business day of each calendar quarter commencing after the date of enactment of this section and shall be entitled New Jersey’s Comprehensive Quarterly Report on Hurricane Sandy Recovery Funding.

      The report shall contain detailed information concerning:

 the amount of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding the State has received,

  the manner in which Hurricane Sandy recovery funding is received,

  the processes by which Hurricane Sandy recovery funding is distributed upon initial receipt,

  State operating plans for Hurricane Sandy recovery funding projects and administration,

  the award of State grants or State contracts using Hurricane Sandy recovery funding,

  the identity of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding State grant and contract recipients,

  analysis of whether the use of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding is accomplishing its intended purpose,

  the number of jobs created by Hurricane Sandy recovery funding State administered projects,

  recommendations for enhanced efficiency and transparency in the administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding,

  recommendations for enhanced coordination in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts,

  and any other information the State Treasurer deems relevant to the transparent administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.

[...]

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

     This bill imposes oversight upon Hurricane Sandy recovery funding by: (i) establishing a Hurricane Sandy recovery funding transparency website; (ii) requiring comprehensive quarterly reports on Hurricane Sandy recovery funding; and (iii) requiring expedited priority reports for administrative problems encountered in Hurricane Sandy recovery funding to enable prompt responses.  The purpose of this bill is to ensure the transparent and efficient administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.
[...]


Who needs all that "detailed information," when we already got all THESE others ... these other "Recovery Accountability" agencies, that Governor Christie seemed to imply, already have "his commitment to transparency" covered ...


Well, the hunt for that "two-page veto message" that Christie issued, when he swashed that NJ Assembly Bill 61, brought me to this Law360 blurb on it:

Christie vetoed Assembly Bill 61 — which sought to establish a recovery funding transparency website and require comprehensive quarterly reports on how the funds were spent — saying recovery funds and projects were already prioritized expeditiously and transparently through the Office of Recovery of Rebuilding, which was established...
And this Christie Administration website Office of Recovery of Rebuilding, is long on promises, but kind of short on summable Accounting Transparency, or detailed Contract analysis, or the issuing of Reports for Comprehensive Quarterly Oversight (as NJ-A61 would have provided).

Perhaps, Governor Christie was thinking: the Feds already have that "Recovery Accountability and Transparency" gig covered, so why rehash that redundancy ground?





The Federal Government website for Recovery Oversight, looks "official enough" -- especially given its very specific "Recovery Accountability" in their title:


The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
recovery.gov

The Board

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board is a non-partisan, non-political agency originally created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) with two goals:

    * To provide transparency of ARRA-related funds
    * To detect and prevent fraud, waste, and mismanagement of those funds

Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012, the Board's authority was expanded to include oversight of all federal funding. And, under the Disaster Appropriations Act of 2013, the Board was mandated by Congress to use its resources to provide oversight of Hurricane Sandy funding.
[...]


And what about those "Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board" Reports, they must contain a wealth of "accounting oversight" details -- Right?

Well, if Governor Christie were "true to his word" they would ... Let's take an "oversight" look, shall we ...


The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board -- Reports
recovery.gov

Annual/Quarterly Reports

  Annual / Quarterly Reports

    2013 Agency Financial Report (PDF 543 KB)

    2012 Annual Report (PDF 643 KB)

    2014 Budget Justification (PDF 199 KB)

    FY 2012 Agency Financial Report (PDF 2.4 MB)

    2011 Annual Report (PDF 4.6 MB)

    2013 Budget Justification (PDF 588 KB)

    2012 Budget Justification (PDF 80 KB)


 Quarterly Reports On Hurricane Sandy Oversight

     Recovery Board - Quarterly Report April- June 2013 (PDF 627 KB)

     Recovery Board - Quarterly Report January - March 2013 (PDF 113 KB)


Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board

Quarterly Report to Congress -- January – March 2013


This is the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board’s (the Board) initial quarterly report regarding activities under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (the Act). The period covered is the quarter ending March 31, 2013. The Act extended the work of the Board through September 2015 to:

 -- Develop and use information technology resources and oversight mechanisms to detect and remediate waste, fraud, and abuse in the obligation and expenditure of funds appropriated for purposes related to the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

 -- Coordinate oversight efforts with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the head of each federal agency receiving appropriations related to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, and the respective Office of Inspector General (OIG) of each such agency
[...]

[pg 4]

Challenges

Based on initial work and discussions with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the Board has identified a series of challenges moving forward:

  > The lack of a unique Hurricane Sandy grants identifier on USASpending.gov

    * Challenge – Without a deployed method of identifying grants related to Hurricane Sandy, the Board staff is unable to determine and extract Hurricane Sandy awards for analysis and to assess the risk indicators for the recipients or sub-recipients that are crucial for preventing and detecting fraud.

    * Potential Solution – The Board staff is looking at other databases, such as the HUD Disaster Recovery Grants Reporting System, the FEMA Emergency Management Mission Integrated Environment, and state databases that might provide the grantee and sub-grantee information.

[pg 5]


 > Access to sub-recipient data at the state level

    * Challenge – States themselves may not have this data, and not all the records that exist are electronic.

    * Potential Solution – The Board staff continues to research alternative options and to cooperate with states.


 > Timing for receipt of federal data

    * Challenge – FPDS updates are infrequent (biweekly at most), and although USASpending data is refreshed every 24 hours, agencies are only required to input award data on a monthly basis. The result is that the Board staff does not have access to the award data in a timely manner, delaying the risk assessment analysis in the ROC.

    * Potential Solution – The Board staff is working with the HUD PMO to receive weekly financial reports detailing agency obligation and outlay information and with OMB to receive the internal control plans. In addition, grant management databases may allow more timely access to some award data required for proper oversight.


Conclusion

The Board appreciates the opportunity to inform Congress of its progress under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. The Board anticipates developing solutions for the challenges that we have identified and looks forward to reporting on our efforts and accomplishments, as well as statistics on OIG oversight efforts, in future quarterly reports.

[End of Quarterly Oversight Report]


Those "quarters go by fast" ... so sometimes a little 'cutting and pasting' is in order ... it's not like anyone will notice.


Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board

Quarterly Report to Congress -- April - June 2013

on Activities Related to Hurricane Sandy Funds


[... pg 4]

Based on initial work and discussions with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the Board has identified a series of challenges moving forward:

1. The lack of a unique Hurricane Sandy grants identifier on USASpending.gov

     • Challenge – Without a method of identifying grants related to Hurricane Sandy (such as unique TAS codes used for ARRA), the Board staff is unable to fully determine and extract Hurricane Sandy grant awards for analyzing and assessing risk indicators that are crucial for preventing and detecting fraud at the prime and sub-recipient level. Access to detailed, accurate award information is crucial for preventing and detecting fraud.

[pg 5]

     • Potential Solution – Agencies have identified existing CFDA numbers used for Sandy programs, including those programs that have received new CFDAs, both of which will eventually allow the Board staff to determine and extract some Hurricane Sandy award data from USASpending.gov. Board staff has reviewed other databases, such as the DRGR, the EMMIE system, TEAM, and state databases that might provide the grantee and sub-grantee information, but so far has been unsuccessful in obtaining access to any of these.


2. Access to sub-recipient data

     • Challenge – Federal award tracking systems rarely contain recipient information beyond the prime recipient, usually a state or municipality. Typically, most fraud occurs below this level, by the entities who receive grants or contracts to do the actual work. Within state award-management systems, the state rarely has sub-recipient data, and not all the existing records are electronic.

     • Potential Solution – The Board staff continues to research alternative options that may exist, such as established federal reporting systems, as well as possible access to state data. However, at this time, with the lack of ARRA-like reporting, nothing has been secured.


3. Timing for receipt of federal data

     • Challenge – Awards are not entered into the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) for at least 90-120 days after being made. Then, FPDS updates are infrequent, occurring at best, every other week. Although USASpending.gov data is refreshed daily, agencies are only required to input award data on a monthly basis, creating an information lag of almost two months. The result is that Board staff does not have access to the award data in a timely manner, delaying risk assessment analysis in the ROC.

     • Potential Solution – The Board staff is receiving weekly financial reports from the PMO that detail high-level agency obligation and outlay information, and is working with FEMA and FTA to access more detailed data electronically. The Board also has access to the agencies’ internal control plans that provide information on appropriations. The Board staff continues to explore access to other grant-management databases that may allow more timely access to some award data required for proper oversight.


Conclusion

The Board appreciates the opportunity to inform Congress of its progress under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. Attaining timely, accurate data on the sub-recipients receiving Federal Sandy funds continues to be the most challenging, unresolved issue faced by the Board. The Board looks forward to working with Congress on issue resolution, and reporting on our efforts and accomplishments, as well as statistics on OIG oversight efforts, in future quarterly reports.

[End of Quarterly Oversight Report]


And so ended the Federal Government's effort to provide that "redundant" Quarterly Recovery Reporting, that the Governor promised us -- But at least one question remains however: Haven't a few other quarters passed since that last 'Recovery Oversight Report' of June 2013?

But then again who needs the "transparent and efficient administration of Sandy recovery funding" (as Christie put it), anyways?

Such detailed reporting on Sandy funds that Mr Christie himself assured us the NJ-Bill A61 "would produce unnecessary redundancies and waste government resources" if it were to have been enacted by unanimous votes in both chambers of the New Jersey Congress.  

Mr Christie was the only one to vote NO on the 'independent and transparent oversight' through Quarterly Reporting, to provide such pesky project details as:

  -- the distribution of Sandy recovery funding, the operating plans for those fund, the awarding of State grants or State contracts, the identity of grant and contract recipients, analysis of whether the use of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding is accomplishing its intended purpose ... etc. etc.
And since it was a Veto Vote cast by the Governor, on this unnecessary reporting burden -- it was the only Vote that matter.

The extra Oversight Bill was killed.


All that "wasteful redundancy" has been done away with -- to the point even of 'the dundancy' being done away with too. Or as it would seem, as illustrated by the sole two public Quarterly Reports issued by recovery.gov, to address that pesky public need for "Recovery Accountability and Transparency" (the important bits of which were just cited above).

Who needs to track Billions in recovery/redevelopment funds at a detailed project level, anyways? ... based on actual needs ... based on actual results.

Certainly not us the U.S. Taxpayers providing the Recovery Funds in the first place; and certainly not the storm-stricken citizens of New Jersey -- at least according the the once-popular Governor of New Jersey ... and his lone NO Vote on "Recovery Accounting Transparency."

All those extra redundancy accounting checks (that the entire NJ Congress wanted) would have been -- well just extra redundant.  

And those kind of departments and controls, are just not part of the Chris Christie agenda.



Originally posted to Digging up those Facts ... for over 8 years. on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 04:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Christie Investigations.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site