Federal Emergency Management Agency officials began nearly a decade ago developing a new system to get disaster assistance to victims as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The new logistics supply management system was meant to fix problems that became obvious during FEMA's terrible response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
It's now nine years later and the new system still isn't finished and a government watchdog doubts that it will work.
"After spending about $247 million over nine years, FEMA cannot be certain that its supply chain management system will be effective during a catastrophic disaster," the Department of Homeland Security inspector general said in a recent report.
"FEMA estimated that the life cycle cost of the system would be about $556 million — $231 million more than the original life cycle cost estimate," the report said.
FEMA is part of DHS and is the federal government's primary relief agency for dealing with catastrophic tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The agency became the focus of a national scandal when it was overwhelmed by Katrina's destruction in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, but especially in and around the city of New Orleans.
The costly new system is meant "to automate and track distribution better and deliver emergency supplies more dependably," the IG said.
"FEMA also intended for the system to help track supplies provided by partners in other federal agencies; nongovernmental organizations; state, local, and tribal governments; and the private sector," the IG aid.
FEMA officials told the IG the new system was up and running in January 2013 but that's not what auditors found.
The system "was about 19 months behind schedule" and it couldn't do what FEMA designed it to do, according to the IG.
"Specifically, it cannot interface with the logistics management systems of FEMA’s partners, nor does FEMA have real-time visibility over all supplies shipped by its partners," the IG said.
As a result, the new system still isn't fully operational and it's the government's fault.
"We attribute these deficiencies to inadequate program management and oversight by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA," the IG report said.
"As a result, FEMA may not be able to efficiently and effectively aid survivors of catastrophic disaster."
Go here to read the full report.Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Washington Examiner.