- Associated Press - Thursday, April 13, 2017

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The company chosen to manage Louisiana’s $1.3 billion flood aid program for homeowners is the same firm that was earlier selected for the work and then saw its contract scrapped and the bid process redone.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that IEM, a North Carolina-based disaster response and emergency management consulting firm, was selected to oversee the program.

The governor said reopening the bid process resulted in lower contract costs - though Edwards’ office didn’t immediately say what the contract’s estimated price tag will be. Baton Rouge media reported that IEM’s first contract award was expected to cost about $250 million.

“It was our goal to hire a contractor that would provide quality work with rigorous oversight at the most cost savings for the people of Louisiana. IEM has made that commitment to the state, and I am personally going to hold them to it,” Edwards said in a statement.

Money for the homeowner program comes from $1.6 billion in block grant aid allocated by Congress to help Louisiana recover from the March and August 2016 floods.

More than 11,000 people have filled out a survey, the first step to applying for homeowner aid. Dollars are expected to start flowing next month.

The Edwards administration’s decision to scrap the first hiring process for a contractor and restart the search drew criticism as slowing flood recovery. The governor’s office denied that, saying it voided the first effort because the bids were too costly and the state wanted to address complaints about the selection process.

“We’re ready to roll and we understand the staffing needs. We understand every aspect of the procedure. We really feel like our main goal is to get people back in their houses,” Robert Bruno, an attorney for IEM, told the Advocate.

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