New Mexico’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is late paying out millions in federal disaster relief money it owes local governments and contractors.
That money came to the state through FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and is meant to help communities clean up after natural disasters such as wildfires and floods.
According to the New Mexico Office of the State Auditor, it has been fielding concerns for years that the department is not paying out federal funds. There have also been allegations of other problems, including poor grant management and high staff turnover.
Now, State Auditor Tim Keller is asking Governor Susana Martinez to help, immediately. In a letter this week, Keller says there are steps the governor’s office could take to help the troubled department.
One possible idea Keller suggests is having the state’s Department of Finance and Administration oversee disaster grants instead, as well as take over emergency management’s critical financial functions.