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COR3 office unveils website to provide updates on recovery funding, projects

The Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, known as COR3, unveiled its “transparency portal,” or the website created to provide information about Federal Emergency Management Agency funding to be used to rebuild Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane María.

COR3 Executive
Director Omar Marrero said the website will be updated regularly, as FEMA makes
disbursements for some 90,000 “sites” that have been identified for repairs.

COR3 has until
Oct. 11, 2019 to agree on repair costs with FEMA, which is applying Section 428
of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster
Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to provide the assistance to Puerto Rico. It
is the first time FEMA applies Section 428 to fund the entire disaster caused
by Hurricane María, Marrero said.

“Let’s say all of the costs are agreed to by Oct. 11. Then we have to
determine the priority we’ll give to the projects, with water, energy,
communications and transportation proposals coming first,” he said.

During a roundtable with members of the media — a meeting he said will
take place quarterly — Marrero said the website complies with transparency
standards required by U.S. Congress FEMA, and federal
legislation authorizing the allocation of all emergency assistance, recovery
and reconstruction approved for Puerto Rico.

“The COR3
transparency portal complies with all the federal requirements and its data is
updated weekly,” he said.

Although he said
it was unrelated, the roundtable discussion appeared to respond to claims made
last week by nonprofit group Espacios Abiertos, which said the site is not compliant
with international transparency standards.

As this media outlet
reported,
specifically, Espacios Abiertos drew
attention to: the need to provide details for subdivisions within
municipalities; the need to include a detailed breakdown of projects as well as
contracts; and the publication of historical data that allow a comparative
analysis of progress, by area and project.

Marrero said the
site will eventually include the data.

Some of the main
features included in the website so far are graphics of the disbursements of
funds according to the applicant and the category, the capacity to download
data in Excel format, search pages for details of obligations and disbursements
by sector, applicant, category, region and municipality.

“In this portal,
the citizen will be able to obtain the information related to the level of
progress of the different phases of the island’s recovery and reconstruction,
the amount and source of all funds allocated to Puerto Rico, and the specific
projects these funds are being invested to meet the needs of Puerto Rico and
communities,” Marrero said.

The website also
includes information about the contracts with providers, including the agreement
with Canadian firm CGI Technologies and Solutions Inc., which along with Evertec,
is in charge of developing the site. The three-year contract awarded in June
2018 has an $88 million cap, he said.

The transparency
portal emulates those CGI created by recovery offices in Louisiana and New
Jersey, to respond to the emergencies caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy,
respectively, he said.

During the roundtable,
Marrero said the website has incorporated a hotline for the public to report on
project-related issues and will include a unified system for handling federal
funds, including allocations from FEMA, U.S. Housing and Urban Development,
among others.

“Puerto Rico is
facing what will be the biggest reconstruction in its history, which will take
time. This year, the priority is to obligate the funds, and develop cost
estimates,” he said.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other areas of the economy.

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