Did FEMA & State Mismanagement Lead to "Abuse" of 9/11 Aid Program?

Feb 26, 2003
Press Release
NEW YORK: After largely ignoring persistent calls for the reform of a 9/11 aid program for months, FEMA officials are just now reporting widespread problems with the Individual and Family Grants (IFG) program as implemented in New York.
According to FEMA officials cited in a recent Associated Press news story (02/19/03), the IFG program was "rife with fraud and abuse" with "as many as 90 percent of the more than 219,000 applications for reimbursement ... filed by people not suffering from the effects of contaminated air." The program was meant to help those affected by the disaster with home repairs, replacement of personal property, transportation, reimbursement for damages, moving and storage, vacuums, and air purifiers.

Citing eight prior Congressional letters that had urged FEMA and the State to reform the IFG program's unclear and confusing guidelines, New York Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and José E. Serrano are now requesting a full investigation by the Inspector General of FEMA to discover the degree to which FEMA and the State Labor Department's mismanagement of the program could have led to the alleged fraud and abuse.

Congresswoman Maloney said, "Any cases of actual fraud should definitely be investigated and hopefully prosecuted, but for FEMA to now claim that 90 percent of New Yorkers 'abused' the program when the guidelines were so confusing is really a shame. Something was clearly wrong with this program's management if FEMA is claiming there's ninety percent fraud and abuse. Blaming New Yorkers is not going to make all the months of mismanagement of this program go away. The thousands of New Yorkers that FEMA is now accusing of abuse may have asked for these air filters and conditioners as a result of the geographic zone established for the program that implied what areas could require decontamination. Why isn't FEMA admitting what we've said for months, that the program's guidelines were unclear and confusing?"

The full letter to the Inspector General of FEMA calling for an investigation of the IFG program's management can be found at https://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/Sept11/022503IG_Ltr_IFG.pdf , while the eight previous letters authored by Congresswoman Maloney and signed by numerous New York members of Congress, including the first letter from September 13, 2002, are included below and can be found at https://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/Sept11/index.html