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Second Phase of Transparency Initiative Web Information Tool Launched

Release Date: November 13, 2008

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
Contact: LA-1603-07-08-814, News Desk: 504-762-2477

New Orleans – Today, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Gulf Coast Recovery Office, in conjunction with the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding (OFC), launched the second phase of a major Web site initiative on government transparency.  The Transparency Initiative resulted from the need to bring greater clarity as to how billions of federal dollars are supporting recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast.  The newly designed Web information tool demonstrates what federal funding has been spent or set aside for the recovery of schools, hospitals, fire and police stations and other efforts.

“The purpose of this site is to inform families, trying to recover and rebuild their homes and lives, about what FEMA has accomplished during the last three years,” said Jim Stark, Assistant Administrator for FEMA’s Gulf Coast Recovery Office. “While there is still more to do in the rebuilding effort, we strongly believe it is crucial that Louisiana residents be reassured much has been done already, and to see what efforts are underway.”

The first phase of the Transparency Initiative, established by FEMA and OFC, was announced last year and focused on mapping schools in New Orleans, so that parents, teachers and local leaders understood the status of individual schools in their communities.

The second phase expands the focus of the Web site to include progress of recovery in health/hospitals, public works, historic/cultural and public safety/criminal justice sectors. Stakeholders can use the website to access accurate, up-to-date information on the status of the projects in their neighborhoods funded with FEMA’s public assistance dollars.  

By logging on to the new website:  www.FEMARecovery.gov visitors can view maps and reports detailing the status of specific public assistance projects in Louisiana at the state, parish and community levels for each sector. Citizens can monitor the progress of FEMA supported recovery initiatives in their neighborhoods, including the current status and anticipated completion dates of projects. The process allows the public to generate reports based on user selected criteria such as state, city and zip code.

“This web tool demonstrates the commitment of the Federal government to make more transparent the over $126 billion in taxpayer funds moving through the federal, state and local governments and to the community level,” stressed Federal Coordinator General Douglas O’Dell.  “I appreciate FEMA’s leadership on this project and I strongly encourage all stakeholders and citizens to provide feedback so that this tool can better aid their efforts to keep government at all levels accountable for the use of their tax dollars. Transparency informs and empowers residents and the investment community in the long-term rebuilding process.”

The site demonstrates the level of FEMA’s commitment to the Gulf Coast region, documents progress and provides a transparent view of the process for anyone who is interested. Additional information and resources will continually be added to the site so that it is a useful tool for Gulf Coast families, government officials, news media and the general public.

“This interactive mapping tool will allow not only Louisiana residents, but also the American taxpayers to see where significant federal investments have been made in rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Katrina and Rita,” said Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. “We are proud of our work in helping recover our lost public infrastructure and also to speed recovery dollars to local applicants. We know how important it is to account for each and every dollar we spend through the Public Assistance program and this Web site goes a long way toward fulfilling that goal.”

Federal staff has conducted a demonstration of the interactive tool to public safety/criminal justice stakeholders including:

Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Louisiana
Greg Rusovich, Chairman, New Orleans Crime Coalition
Robert Cerasoli, Inspector General, City of New Orleans
Rafael C. Goyeneche, President, Metropolitan Crime Commission
Rev. Kevin Wildes, SSJ, President, Loyola University; Chairman, Ethics Review Board
Nolan Rollins, President and CEO, Urban League of Greater New Orleans

"This initiative is a huge asset to the people of New Orleans as we work to rebuild the local criminal justice infrastructure," said Jim Letten. "The initiative aids the efforts of local law enforcement as we tackle the large scale rebuilding issues. I appreciate the leadership of General Doug O'Dell, Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding and FEMA in developing this invaluable tool."

"The Transparency Initiative Web tool's new addition of criminal justice infrastructure is an important aid to local leaders working diligently to bring critical facilities back on-line," said Greg Rusovich. "The site infuses greater accountability at all levels of the process and further empowers local leaders with the information we need to drive further results."

"Any effort created by the Office of the Federal Coordinator and FEMA which helps us track federal dollars to application on the ground brings greater public accountability and transparency," said Robert Cerasoli. "I appreciate all of the efforts of the General to take on issues like this and also to help my office."

Additional outreach to residents, neighborhood leaders, local, state and federal officials, and those in the investment community will be conducted in the coming days and site information and features will be updated to reflect feedback.  Information and resources will continually be added to the site to ensure it is a useful tool for Gulf Coast families, government officials, news media and the general public.  

For more information on the federal commitment to rebuilding the Gulf Coast region visit: www.FEMARecovery.gov and www.dhs.gov/gulfcoastrebuild

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This page was last reviewed/modified on November 13, 2008.