The HUD audit found that Texas improperly contracted with the engineering firm HNTB to manage hundreds of millions of dollars worth of hurricane recovery grants, and it recommends the state be required to pay back $9 million in overcharges billed by the firm and paid in federal dollars.
GLO disaster recovery leader Gary Hagood is a straight shooter who rightly points out that the Texas General Land Office (GLO) inherited this mess along with HNTB from the now defunct Texas Department of Rural Affairs. “I’m happy they (the [HUD] inspector general’s office) did what they did,” Hagood said after the audit was released last week. “The state didn’t do a good job — we’re doing better now. We’re changing everything.”
Hagood and the folks at the Texas General Land Office have done a decent job getting the disaster recovery program back on the right track. That must be especially difficult when they have to depend on HNTB which seems to have completely lost touch with reality.
Here is the whopper from HNTB in Bell’s story…
“The Hurricane Recovery program remains on target and on budget, and HNTB is proud of the work we are doing for the state of Texas,” said the company, which is based in Kansas City, Mo., and is well-connected to Gov. Rick Perry’s administration. In fact, various delays — including a disagreement between state and federal officials over guidelines for the housing portion of the program — have put the recovery effort two years behind schedule.
The Hurricane Recovery program is on target and on budget? Not hardly.