The Louisiana Division of Administration is soliciting accounting firms to provide oversight of the federal funds received to rebuild in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Proposals are due Oct. 6.

The state said that requests for proposals were sent to firms that meet the criteria laid out in the solicitation. Firms submitting offers must have experience in presidential-declared natural disasters; experience in dealing with state governments; and experience in matters relating to fraud and misconduct prevention, investigation and detection. Respondents must also have a national presence and multidisciplinary experience.

Offers from qualified firms will be evaluated by a team consisting of the state treasurer, the commissioner of administration, and representatives of several national organizations involved in governmental accounting services. The intention is for the contract to begin on Oct. 31. Officials from Gov. Kathleen Blanco's that have said that they're unsure how much it will cost to hire a firm, but the federal government will be asked to assume those costs. Concerns were raised about the accounting records and oversight implemented during distribution of the first $219 million in disaster relief.

So far, Louisiana has received about $700 million in cash, and Congress recently approved $62 billion for hurricane relief in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, with more funds expected. Louisiana's congressional delegation is seeking $250 billion just for their state.

State Treasurer John Kennedy also wants the governor to hire an outside administrator with expertise in grants and the flow of federal funds to make sure money is distributed quickly and efficiently. In September, Kennedy called for the state to hire one of the Big Four firms to handle the accounting and auditing of the federal disaster funds.

A copy of the full solicitation is available online at: http://wwwsrch2.doa.louisiana.gov/osp/lapac/AGENCY/PDF/01862900.pdf

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