The global firm Black and Veatch has audited the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board for at least the past dozen years.
In both the 2014 and 2015 report on S&WB Operations, the auditor notes in nearly identical wording:
“…To compensate for the limited workforce, more work is being contracted out to subcontractors that was usually done in‐house prior to Hurricane Katrina….”
Surprisingly, on page 22 of the most recent report (2015), the auditor notes that “Many of these contractors are not local.”
This is nonsensical when, as reported by The Advocate, residency requirements is cited by Mayor Mitch Landrieu as part of the reason there are 60 vacancies at the S&WB.
Spurred by the pumps crisis, on August 14, the City of New Orleans released an RFP for an independent, third-party firm to conduct a “root cause analysis of the flood events of July 22, August 5, August 8.” We urge the selected firm to ask exactly how many contracts were awarded to non-locals due to vacant positions in the maintenance and engineering divisions.
We also note that the New Orleans S&WB gets a lot more money via taxation from property owner real estate bills than the Orleans Levee District – 42% more. Our “back of a napkin” estimate is that the S&WB gets $51 million annually, and that’s in addition to the money the S&WB collects through water services billing.