The Imperial Irrigation District is calling for an amendment to a misleading report recently released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General, which suggests that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should seek to recover grant funds that were paid to the district for repairs after the April 4, 2010, earthquake.
“Amid the destruction caused by the earthquake, IID worked diligently and in close coordination with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and FEMA not only to assess the infrastructure damages caused by the 7.2 magnitude quake, but also in the entire recovery process for each project,” said district General Counsel Ross Simmons.
While the report does not contain allegations of fraud, waste or misuse of funds, IID’s legal counsel believes the report is inaccurate and that concerns cited have been applied inconsistently. Furthermore, IID believes it has well met its responsibilities in how it has not only responded to the 2010 earthquake, but how it has handled the ensuing contracting and procurement processes that accompany such a disaster.
In a misstatement of facts, the Inspector General’s report suggests that in the process of awarding contracts to repair IID’s damaged water infrastructure, the district “did not always account for and expend FEMA grant funds according to federal requirements.”
Under federal procurement regulations, IID was required to take steps to assure that minority firms, women’s business enterprises and labor surplus area firms, which include all businesses located in the Imperial Valley, are used whenever possible. “After an initial review, IID has concluded that nearly all contractors awarded contracts through IID’s affirmative bidding process were from our service area and we believe strongly that we have been compliant to federal regulations,” said Simmons.
The Inspector General’s report also directs that $2.5 million be “deobligated.” Those funds are available because IID’s award-winning work on its emergency projects finished on time and under budget. IID did not receive these funds; therefore, recovery of these funds as suggested in the report is misleading.
IID operated as a subgrantee to Cal OES throughout this entire process. In a letter dated March 6, 2015, to Cal OES and FEMA (grantee to Cal OES), IID has outlined the errors in the Inspector General’s report. FEMA has 90 days to respond.