Christie deploys safeguards for billions from feds for Sandy reconstruction

Billions of dollars in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy recovery and rebuilding will soon be flowing to New Jersey. To make sure that money is not wasted, Governor Chris Christie has issued an executive order for extra oversight.

The order, announced Friday by Christie, authorizes state comptroller Matt Boxer to conduct an independent review of all contracts related to Sandy reconstruction funding.

Christie says it was always his intention to put the oversight measures in place, and his executive order has nothing to do with the concerns of Democratic lawmakers about the state’s $100 million contract with the Florida company AshBritt Inc. for Sandy debris removal.

Boxer says his staff has already started to focus its audit work on those projects.

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“We’re going to be intensifying our review as well and our follow up on previous audit findings for those agencies and towns receiving reconstruction funding,” Boxer said. “Basically what that means is we’re going to look at their prior audits.

“Where they’ve messed up before in how they spent federal funds we’re going to work with them to make sure it gets fixed,” he said.

The governor’s order sets up accountability officers in each department of state government that deals with the disbursement of the federal aid.

The state will also set up an Internet site where all the contracting information will be publicly accessible.

Christie says he’s willing to work with state lawmakers on other safeguards to make sure the federal funds and spent effectively.

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