TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo that would require oversight and accountability procedures for spending on Hurricane Sandy recovery was approved today by a Senate Committee.
“With the amount of federal aid that is expected to come into our state to help in recovery, it is critical that we don’t lose any of it to waste, fraud or misuse. Every dollar of funding is needed to help our residents, business owners and our communities that suffered damage or devastation as a result of the storm,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen). “Oversight and accountability will ensure that safeguards are in place to make sure that Sandy recovery funds are spent in an efficient and transparent way.”
This bill (S-2566) would impose oversight upon Hurricane Sandy recovery funding by: (a) establishing a Hurricane Sandy recovery funding transparency website; (b) requiring comprehensive quarterly reports on Hurricane Sandy recovery funding; and (c) requiring expedited priority reports for administrative problems encountered in Hurricane Sandy recovery funding to enable prompt responses. The bill was modeled after the reporting requirements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).
Senator Sarlo’s legislation would require the State Treasurer to establish a website dedicated to the transparent administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding and would require that the website contain, to the extent available, detailed information on Hurricane Sandy recovery funding by counties and municipalities and detailed information on State contract and grant recipients. The Treasurer would be required to update the website within 10 business days of the receipt of information concerning the award of a State contract or State grant or distribution of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding.
The bill also would require that the website provide access to New Jersey’s Comprehensive Quarterly Report on Hurricane Sandy Recovery Funding, as prepared by the State Treasurer. The report would be required to contain information on the amounts, manner of receipt, and distribution processes for Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. The report would also be required to include operating plans for State projects and administration and detailed information on the issuance of State contracts and grants involving Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. The bill would direct the State Treasurer to include in the report an analysis on the effectiveness of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding in accomplishing its intended purpose and the number of jobs created by State administered projects associated with Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. The bill also would require the report to include the State Treasurer’s recommendations for enhanced efficiency, transparency, and coordination in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
“Sandy was one of the most devastating storms in state history and the cost of rebuilding will be enormous. The urgency involved in recovering from natural disasters and the scale of the work can invite abuse or wasteful spending,” said Senator Sarlo. “By putting oversight standards in place we can help prevent that from happening and detect it quickly if it occurs. In addition to the employment of integrity monitors, the oversight provisions will help protect the best use of the dollars that are so important to the state’s recovery.”
The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee approved the bill by a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for a vote.