Lawmakers in NJ knock deal with Sandy recovery contractor

Legislators raise concerns about lack of spending cap on ICF International

New Jersey coast during Hurricane Sandy
New Jersey coast during Hurricane Sandy

The absence of a spending cap in a contract between Hurricane Sandy recovery officials in New Jersey and a Fairfax, Va.-based contractor is sparking a backlash among Garden State lawmakers.

New Jersey officials said in a Monday state budget hearing that they weren’t aware of a spending limit imposed upon ICF International, a consulting company that recently assumed a larger role in the state’s Sandy recovery effort. But officials with the Department of Community Affairs, which overseas Sandy-related grants, countered that such contractor spending is closely monitored.

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“We aren’t silly about how we budget,” Richard Constable, community affairs commissioner, told the Wall Street Journal. “We aren’t allowing any contractor to just write a blank check.”

Democrats also raised questions about the state’s alleged reliance on flawed federal data to determine which homeowners had sufficient damage to qualify for grants, as well as ICF’s history in the follow-up to Hurricane Katrina. The company was slapped with a $1 million fine in 2008 for allegedly not processing Louisiana grants on time.

New Jersey enlisted ICF to advise officials on their post-Sandy housing programs last year, and initially pegged the consulting firm’s staffing assistance at $5 million, a treasury spokesperson told the Journal. The firm was brought on board in full in January, after the state fired Hammerman & Gainer over alleged performance issues. [WSJ]Julie Strickland