Louisiana's treasurer said the state should hire one of the Big Four firms to handle the accounting and auditing of the federal funds flowing into the state for the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort.

"The amount of federal aid that we have been promised, and I believe that we will receive, is unprecedented -- in the billions of dollars," said state treasurer John Kennedy in a statement. "The whole world will be watching how we handle that money, and we are all aware of Louisiana's reputation. We are much better than our reputation, and this is a chance to prove it. We need checks and balances and rechecks and rebalances."

Kennedy said all of the major firms have offices in Louisiana with staff capable of reviewing documentation, tracking Federal Emergency Management Agency payments and auditing payments to make sure funds are spent honestly. Kennedy suggested the firm work under the supervision of the state's Legislative Auditor and Inspector General.

"There is no question in my mind that Louisiana will be held to a higher standard than other states," said Kennedy in the statement. "We must have zero tolerance for stealing, corruption, waste and abuse. The only way to do that properly is to have as many checks and balances as possible built into the system without jeopardizing the need to move with all deliberate speed."Congress has approved $62 billion for hurricane relief in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, and more money is expected. Gov. Kathleen Blanco has said reconstruction costs could exceed $100 billion in Louisiana alone.

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