Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
The Institute for Southern Studies has released a report suggesting some ways out of the various social, physical, and financial quagmires caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The paper also dedicates a section to that ubiquitous question, "Where did the Katrina money go?" A few answers:
Amount that Bush administration says has been spent on Gulf Coast recovery since 2005 hurricanes: $116 billion
Estimated percent of those funds that are for long-term recovery projects: 30
Amount of FEMA's 2005 disaster relief budget that was spent on administrative costs: $7 billion
Percent of the 2005 relief budget that represented: 22
Of $16.7 billion in Community Development Block Grants earmarked for long-term Gulf Coast rebuilding, percent that had been spent as of August 2007: 30
Of $8.4 billion allocated to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for levee repair in Louisiana, percent that had been spent as of July 2007: 20
As of June 2007, value of controversial "cost plus" Katrina contracts given out by three federal agencies, which allows companies to charge taxpayers for cost overruns and guaranteed profits: $2.4 billion
As of August 2006, value of Gulf Coast contracts that a Congressional study found were "plagued by waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement": $8.75 billion
So the answer to that ubiquitous question in devastated areas—"When will I get my f*cking check?"—still appears to be, "Don't hold your breath."
For more details, check out the report.