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Financial Controls Over Federal Assistance Dominates Hearing on Hurricane Recovery in U.S. Territories

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 14, 2017 -

Today, the Full Committee held an oversight hearing on “The Need for Transparent Financial Accountability in Territories' Disaster Recovery Efforts." The panel reviewed the financial needs of both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and the need and form of appropriate Federal oversight.

“Improved coordination and the need for transparent and accountable expenditures of taxpayer dollars are goals all parties working in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands can aspire to achieve,” Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) stated.

The help Puerto Rico has received from Congress and the Administration has made a huge difference… but there is much more left to do in both the short and long term. It’s fair that taxpayers will want to know that process is being managed transparently and responsibly with the primary vision of helping Americans that live both in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to help them rebuild,” Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González (R-PR) stated.

On Puerto Rico, Bishop said the Island's government faces a “credibility gap," that must be rectified to ensure future support in Congress for adequate emergency funding.

The lack of institutional controls…raises grave concerns about the government of Puerto Rico’s ability to competently negotiate, manage and implement infrastructure projects without significant independent oversight,” Bishop said.

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló asserted the need for transparency in the use of federal recovery dollars, acknowledging fiscal mismanagement at the local level prior to and following the hurricanes’ devastation. His administration is requesting close to $100 billion in federal funding to support recovery and rebuilding.    

When I took office, it was clear that I believe that effective and transparent government was critical to economic progress and to the future of Puerto Rico,” Rosselló stated.

USVI’s Governor, Kenneth Mapp, estimates damages related to both Hurricane Irma and Maria exceed $7.5 billion. Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) emphasized Congress’s obligation to support and sufficiently fund recovery efforts given their Constitutional responsibility to the territories.

[W]e must build it back stronger and more sustainable than before,” Mapp said.Our recovery will be long and difficult… but we cannot do it alone.

Click here to view full witness testimony. 

Contact: Committee Press Office 202-226-9019

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