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COR3 creates new tool to report misuse of recovery funds

Looking to expand efforts to ensure the proper use of funds allocated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy announced the availability of a digital tool at the agency’s Transparency Portal to report fraud or abuse in the use of funds from FEMA’s Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation Grant programs.  

“As part of the COR3’s responsibilities to protect the integrity of federal grant programs, we are creating the necessary mechanisms to ensure the correct use of the funds FEMA allocates to government agencies, municipalities, and nonprofit organizations,” Laboy said.

“The new section in the Transparency Portal makes it more accessible and easier for anyone who understands that there is an improper use of funds to make a complaint,” he added.

As an example, the COR3 compliance division could address complaints related to irregularities in the processes of procurement of goods and services, fraud and conflicts of interest, as well as cases related to bribery, extortion and intimidation referred by COR3 employees, subrecipients and/or contractors, among others.  

Citizens interested in making a complaint, which could be done anonymously, should include a summary of the events explaining the nature of the situation, scope, and period of time in which the alleged irregularity took place. The person making the complaint must also explain how they became aware of the questioned activity and how these acts were carried out. 

In addition, citizens should also report the name and contact information of the individual(s) or company(ies) related to the report, as well as the name and contact information of any witnesses who may help corroborate the information reported.

“I always emphasize that the reconstruction of Puerto Rico has to be carried out in compliance with laws and regulations, both at a state and federal level,” Laboy stressed. “For this reason, I call on citizens, subrecipients and contractors to report any irregularities in the reconstruction process.”

Once the complaint is filed online, the person who makes the complaint will receive an automatic message to acknowledge that it was received. The information provided will be reviewed by an investigative specialist to determine the course of action to take, including conducting a more thorough investigation or referring the matter to the appropriate entity. 

Author Details
Author Details
Maria Miranda is an investigative reporter and editor with 20 years of experience in Puerto Rico’s English-language newspapers. In that capacity, she has worked on long-term projects and has covered breaking news under strict deadlines. She is proficient at mining data from public databases and interviewing people (both public figures and private sector individuals). She is also a translator, and has edited and translated an economy book on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis. She worked as an interpreter for FEMA during the recent recovery efforts of Hurricane María and earned her FEMA badge.

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