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Oliver, Prieto, Wimberly & Watson Coleman Bill to Better Monitor Spending of Hurricane Sandy Relief Funds, Prevent Misuse Gets Final Legislative OK

Bill Provides Additional Oversight to Ensure Efficient Administration of Recovery Funding

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex) and Assembly members Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) to ensure the transparent and efficient administration of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding received final legislative approval Tuesday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

“Rebuilding what Sandy destroyed will be a major undertaking. A project of this multitude and the bulk of funding involved demands transparency. We owe it to the communities affected to ensure that the funds slated for New Jersey to assist in the rebuilding will be spent wisely,” said Oliver.

The bill (A-61) imposes oversight upon Hurricane Sandy recovery funding by:

  • establishing a Hurricane Sandy recovery funding transparency website;
  • requiring comprehensive quarterly reports on Hurricane Sandy recovery funding;
  • and requiring expedited priority reports for administrative problems encountered in Hurricane Sandy recovery funding to enable prompt responses.

“Residents are relying on these funds to help mend the destruction created by this storm. It is our obligation to put in place the necessary measures to ensure that the billions of dollars that will be coming to New Jersey to help these residents rebuild will be spent appropriately,” said Prieto.

“You cannot be too vigilant when dealing with billions of dollars meant to help residents and entire communities repair the damage caused by Sandy,” said Wimberly.

“There is always the risk of abuse in large, expensive projects. The communities affected by this storm have waited long enough for assistance from the federal government. This bill helps avoid any missteps that can potentially delay recovery efforts any further,” said Watson Coleman. Under the bill, the website would contain, to the extent available, detailed information on Hurricane Sandy recovery funding by county and municipality and detailed information on state contract and grant recipients. The bill would require that the website provide access to New Jersey’s Comprehensive Quarterly Report on Hurricane Sandy Recovery Funding and Hurricane Sandy recovery funding recipient reports. The website would also have to be updated within 10 business days of the signing of any contract or distribution of any funding to local governments or other grant recipients.

The bill would require that New Jersey’s Comprehensive Quarterly Report on Hurricane Sandy Recovery Funding contain information on the amounts, manner of receipt and distribution processes for Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. The bill would specify that the report include operating plans for state projects and administration and detailed information on the issuance of state contracts and grants involving Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. The bill would direct the state treasurer to include in the report an analysis on the effectiveness of Hurricane Sandy recovery funding in accomplishing its intended purpose and the number of jobs created by state administered projects associated with Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. The report must also include the state treasurer’s recommendations for enhanced efficiency, transparency and coordination in Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

The bill would authorize the state treasurer to provide expedient priority reports on administrative problems associated with Hurricane Sandy recovery funding. Under the bill, a priority report could be provided at any time for administrative problems requiring the immediate attention of the Legislature and the governor. The bill would denote that the website and reports created by the bill would be restricted in content to prevent the dissemination of information which if disclosed would jeopardize legal compliance, public health, welfare, or safety, or a competitive economic position.

The bill was approved 39-0 by the Senate on Tuesday and 77-0 by the Assembly on Feb. 14.