GAO: Administration had Katrina problems

Feb. 1, 2006 at 4:53 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A new federal report on the emergency relief response to Hurricane Katrina points the blame at the White House and the Department of Homeland Security.

David M. Walker, comptroller general of the Government Accountability Office, wrote in a report to a Congressional committee looking into Katrina response failures that there was plenty of warning of the storm to take action.

The Washington Post reports Walker said the White House should have designated a central figure in charge of coordinating relief and recovery efforts for the storm.

He also said Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, was too slow in recognizing the gravity of the destruction on the gulf coast, which slowed down relief efforts.

Walker wrote that "federal, state and local agencies were clearly overwhelmed in response to Hurricane Katrina," and criticized the lack of leadership by the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown.

The GAO report will be included in the final report scheduled for a Feb. 15 release by the House Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina, led by Rep. Thomas M. Davis II, R-Va.

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