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OIG recommends halting over $29M in grants for Mississippi Gulf Coast

JACKSON, MISS– A report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to suspend nearly $30 million in grant payments to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Inline image 1

The report stated FEMA should put a hold on the $29.9 million in grants for the Coastal Retrofit Program until the state can properly account for the funds.

The OIG conducted an audit after numerous complaints were received that the state hand mishandled the $29.9 million that was earmarked to help nearly 2,000 homes be rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina.

In a response to the OIG report, FEMA officials have expressed concurrence on the recommendations made regarding the suspension of the funds. The recommendations included requiring verification of completed work, and suspending all administrative, management, and grant funds pending disbursement.


Lee Smithson, Director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, released the following statement regarding the report:

“I want to address the report issued today by the federal Office of Inspector General about the Coastal Retrofit Mississippi Program. While the OIG recommends de-obligating 29 million dollars in federal funds, we are confident that most of the money will be deemed eligible by FEMA and the remaining funds will be recovered by the state.

It is important to note that I had no control of this program. Upon taking over on February 1, 2016, I contacted the OIG and terminated the employee mentioned in the report. All other staff associated with the retrofit program, are no longer with the agency.

I am fully cooperating with the OIG and FEMA and awaiting the results of a complete audit of the project being performed by Horne Accounting Firm to proceed forward with the State Auditor and State Attorney General.”

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