Citing the “ongoing leadership changes within the Puerto Rican government,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced its decision to reinstate the manual drawdown process for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as an additional step to protect the federal investment.
Effective immediately, the Commonwealth must receive approval from the agency to drawdown grant funds for Hurricanes Irma and María recovery.
FEMA Press Secretary Lizzie Litzow said, “Due to the devastating impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Puerto Rico is on track to receive a historic level of federal disaster funding. The goal of this unprecedented federal investment is to help Puerto Ricans rebuild for a more resilient future.
“Throughout the recovery process, the federal government will continue to be strong stewards of taxpayer dollars. Given the ongoing leadership changes within the Puerto Rican government, combined with continued concern over Puerto Rico’s history of fiscal irregularities and mismanagement, FEMA decided it is prudent to take additional steps to protect its share of the federal investment by reinstating the manual drawdown process,” Litzow said.
The Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) was notified of the Agency’s decision by way of a letter to outgoing Gov. Ricardo Rosselló sent this morning.
COR3 Executive Director Omar Marrero said he was informed of the decision early in the day, and said it was “completely reasonable, considering this has been an unprecedented transition in Puerto Rico, which could provoke concerns at the federal level.”
Through its decision, FEMA put into effect its Standard Form 270, which requires paperwork to be submitted to receive reimbursements for hurricane-related recovery work.
As this media outlet reported, the responsibility for processing and granting funding requests from municipalities and other entities was transferred to COR3 in March.
“In the letter notifying us about this temporary measure, the government also recognized the steps COR3 has taken to establish additional controls in areas such as education and health, which happened before everything that took place in recent weeks,” Marrero said.
The manual drawdown process will require the Government of Puerto Rico to submit funding drawdown requests on behalf of municipalities and state agencies prior to receiving FEMA grant funding, she explained.
Additionally, the drawdown request must be accompanied with supporting documentation to certify the amount being requested for drawdown is eligible, allowable, reasonable and in alignment with federal procurement regulations.
“While FEMA has determined these additional financial controls are necessary and prudent, we also remain committed to working with Puerto Rico to ensure long-term recovery efforts underway continue to progress forward,” Litzow said.
Marrero said COR3 has already cleared most of the reimbursements that had been requested for emergency projects, and is now moving into the phase seeking funding for permanent projects.