Nathan Stubbs

Report finds ICF contract raise justified

by Nathan Stubbs

Alarm bells went off early this year when it was reported that just before she left office, former Gov. Kathleen Blanco left a parting gift for the much reviled administrator of the Road Home program, ICF, in the form of a contract amendment which raised the company’s fee by $156 million (to a total of $912 million). Legislators demanded answers and Gov. Bobby Jindal called on his inspector general to investigate the contract amendment for any wrongdoing. That report has just been released and its findings largely vindicate the former governor. Inspector General Stephen Street writes that the contract amendment with ICF was “justified due to a significantly higher number of eligible applicants and closings than what was anticipated in the original contract.”

The report does note, however, that state oversight of ICF was hampered by constant feuding between the two state agencies tasked with overseeing the Road Home Program, the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Office of Community Development’s Disaster Recovery Unit. “The conflict between the two agencies was apparently rooted in disagreements over changes in policy and procedure concerning the Road Home program,” the report states. “The constant tension and disagreement between the two agencies was a constant distraction and may have hindered the best and most efficient oversight of ICF.” Gov. Bobby Jindal has since placed LRA chief Paul Rainwater over both agencies and merged their staff into one unit. The report adds that despite the inter-agency tensions, “the investigation did not reveal any evidence to suggest an effort to conceal Amendment #7 from the public or the Louisiana Legislature.”