Will Protect Against Fraud, Abuse & Waste
TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Salem/Cumberland/Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) said today that integrity monitors should be engaged in the post-Sandy recovery work to protect against fraud and abuse and to better ensure the effective and efficient use of the huge infusion of funds to rebuild in the wake of one of the most destructive and costly storms in the state’s history. Senator Sweeney and Speaker Oliver are working on legislation that will determine the role and the responsibilities of the monitors.
“As billions and billions of dollars pour into New Jersey for Sandy recovery, it is essential that we ensure those taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and on their intended purpose,” Senate President Sweeney said. “Unfortunately, we have seen too often that people will take advantage of a crisis to better themselves at the public’s expense. We can’t allow that in New Jersey.”
“The enormous taxpayer investment being placed in a recovery process of this magnitude requires extreme circumspection,” said Speaker Oliver. “In some cases, whole communities must be rebuilt and that requires accountability and transparency to ensure that these funds are being spent as they were intended. Homes and people’s very livelihoods depend on it and our residents deserve nothing less.”
Up to $30 billion in federal funds is expected to help New Jersey in the expensive and large-scale rebuilding of communities in many areas of the state. Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Oliver stressed the importance of using every dollar in the most effective means possible to help the storm’s victims rebuild their homes, their communities and to put their lives back together.
“To prevent wasteful misspending and abuse of public dollars, we will be introducing legislation that will call for integrity monitors to oversee the spending of Sandy recovery funds,” said Senate President Sweeney. “These monitors will save money by ensuring funds are spent efficiently and effectively and by overseeing the ethical conduct and proper behavior of those we are entrusting to help rebuild our state. This, in turn, will help create a smoother, more rapid recovery and rebuilding process.”
Integrity monitors have proven effective elsewhere, including New York City, where then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani used them for the rebuilding at the site of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9-11. All large-scale construction projects are prone to abuse and recovery projects following natural disasters are especially vulnerable, according to experts.
“To prevent profiteers from taking advantage of our residents’ misfortune, we must have proper safeguards in place,” added Speaker Oliver. “Having integrity monitors to oversee the spending of Sandy recovery funds will help prevent wasteful misspending and abuse of taxpayer dollars. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that the rebuilding of our state will be done in the most efficient, effective, and timely manner.”
Monitors help to prevent fraud and waste from occurring, which helps maximize the effectiveness of the spending and helps to keep the rebuilding on a rapid schedule, Senate President Sweeney and Speaker Oliver noted. They said they will work with Governor Christie to put their plan in place.