LRA Contracts with Nationally Recognized Firm to Conduct Independent Review of Road Home Operations
August 24, 2007
RAND Corporation to begin work in Louisiana immediately
BATON ROUGE, La. (August 24, 2007)— Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) announced today they have contracted with a nationally recognized research institution to conduct an independent review of the Road Home program's implementation by the state Division of Administration's contractor, ICF International (ICF). Through a contract executed by the LRA, the RAND Corporation will begin working on the ground in Louisiana over the next 7-10 days to conduct an “in-flight” review that will result in recommendations to assure that applicants to the Road Home homeowner assistance program, the largest housing redevelopment program in U.S. history, receive the high quality customer service they deserve.
“Through their dedication to high-quality and objective research and analysis and with sophisticated analytical tools developed over many years, RAND has developed a national reputation for providing independent evaluations and developing solutions,” said LRA Chairman Dr. Norman C. Francis. “This is just what is needed to continue to improve the quality and pace of the Road Home. While it appears the contractor has hit its stride—delivering more than $3.1 billion to 42,542 Louisiana homeowners in little more than a year since Louisiana received sufficient funding to launch the program— we know there is still room for improvement.”
Through this contract, RAND will review the program's application process and program data to assess the extent to which the Road Home Program Statement of Principles adopted by the LRA are being met. Through this analysis, RAND will identify points of delay and error introduction that inhibit the quality and efficiency of the program. RAND will also provide regular updates on the status of their work and produce a final report that will be publicly presented to the LRA's Housing Task Force and its member community groups.
“Our mission is to provide the oversight and accountability that is necessary to continually improve the quality and pace of the program, and the review that will be conducted by RAND and presented to the public in the coming weeks and months ahead will serve as a valuable tool in fulfilling this mission,” said Walter Leger, Chair of the LRA's Housing Task Force. “While the LRA doesn't run the Road Home, we designed its broad policies, fought to see it funded, and are committed to doing everything we can to continue moving the program forward as expeditiously and fairly as possible and stressing that all homeowners should be treated with respect throughout the process. The LRA's Housing Task Force will be working hand-in-hand with RAND in partnership with the Office of Community Development and their contractor ICF to review every aspect of the program and develop common-sense solutions that can be implemented immediately. As Chair of the task force and a homeowner who's working through the process, I'm looking forward to getting started.”
The Road Home Program was designed by the Louisiana Recovery Authority and is administered by the Division of Administration's Office of Community Development (OCD) and its contractor, ICF.
George Penick, director of the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute (RGSPI), expressed his pleasure with this partnership with LRA by saying: “When RAND created the RAND Gulf States Policy Institute in the early months following the 2005 hurricanes, it was for this very purpose: to enable it to work closely with the key decision-makers of the region on the many public policy issues that are so important to the long-term recovery.”
RAND is a nonprofit research organization that addresses the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. In partnership with seven universities in the region, RAND created RGSPI to work with state and local officials, organizations and the private sector to develop a long-term vision and strategy to help build a better future for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
RGSPI is a collaboration between RAND and seven universities in the Gulf States region: Jackson State University, Tulane University, Tuskegee University, University of New Orleans, University of South Alabama, University of Southern Mississippi, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Executing a contract to conduct an independent review of the Road Home is the latest initiative led by the LRA to improve the quality and pace of the program.
Last month, LRA staff worked with the Division of Administration's Office of Community Development to successfully negotiate new performance measurements and requirements that are significantly more stringent in both monetary value and in the breadth of deliverables covered than those that had been in place previously.
Earlier this year, the LRA Board of Directors also expanded the Housing Task Force to include homeowners as members and advisors and adopted a "Road Home Statement of Principles" that was developed in conjunction with the Citizens' Road Home Action Team (CHAT). The principles, which now serve as a resource to homeowners that are progressing through the program, affirm that all program participants should have access to a fair and swift resolution of errors, disputes, and appeals and the calculation of Road Home program benefits should be consistent, fair, and accurate. The list also states that applicants should be able to accept grant money without losing the ability to benefit resolution and appeal.
The complete Statement of Principles is available online at www.road2la.org.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana.