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COR3 revises disbursement process for recovery work in Puerto Rico

The Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3), which works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to disburse recovery funding to rebuild after Hurricane María, has revised its disbursement mechanism to expedite the ongoing process, agency Executive Director Manuel Laboy confirmed.

“The Request for Reimbursement (RFR), as well as the Advance Request (RFA), are important for the continuity of reconstruction projects,” he said.

To date, COR3 has reimbursed approximately $4.6 billion, under the categories of emergency and permanent works for the damage caused by Hurricane María and the earthquakes of 2020.

“Meanwhile, last year 92 RFAs were attended to, representing some $77 million, a notable increase, since in 2020 $1.3 million corresponding to five RFAs were provided in advance,” said Laboy.

The progress on funding projects helps with the development of permanent works led by sub-recipients from municipalities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Hurricane María hit in September 2017, while the string of earthquakes affecting the island’s southwestern region began in January 2020.

To apply for an RFA, the subrecipient is required to complete the bidding and contracting process, as well as a cost analysis on contracts greater than $250,000. In the case of RFRs, the same requirements apply, but the reconstruction works must have begun, and they must provide evidence of invoices for the work carried out and/or purchase receipts, among other documents, and include a summary of expenses signed by the point contact number of the subrecipient, as well as the amount requested for reimbursement.

Both processes are carried out through the Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery Solution system, he said.

“FEMA established that as of 2014 the payment method is by reimbursement, so it’s not possible to advance 50% of the obligation of the funds. To receive an advance of funds, it is mandatory to follow the method designed through the RFA, since FEMA constantly audits these processes,” Laboy explained.

Meanwhile, given that some 2,000 reconstruction projects are expected to start this year, COR3 optimized the reimbursement request procedure to expedite the flow of funding, he added.

The initiatives that have been implemented and the frequent orientations targeting subrecipients respond to the needs that they communicate in the meetings that they frequently hold with the COR3 team, Laboy said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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