FEMA: Consulting with state on debris contract

A Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman issued a revised statement Friday evening following a joint Legislative hearing on the debris removal company contracted by the state following Superstorm Sandy.

The statement comes after Democratic lawmakers confronted AshBritt’s CEO about a claim he made earlier in the evening regarding FEMA having “signed off” on the contract process.

“FEMA and the Christie Administration consulted immediately regarding the proposed use of the AshBritt Connecticut contract,” FEMA spokesman Lars Anderson said in a statement forwarded by the governor’s office.

“Under the emergency circumstances in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, FEMA agreed New Jersey could proceed with this procurement subject to the usual review and analysis of all federal disaster reimbursement requirements,” he said. “Accordingly, FEMA is currently reviewing the contract for compliance.  FEMA and New Jersey continue to consult regularly on these issues.”

Earlier, Randy Perkins, CEO of the Florida-based debris removal company AshBritt, told lawmakers Friday FEMA “signed off on the contracting process” and that high-ranking officials, including the agency’s head of council, were at the table when New Jersey “piggybacked” off of an out-of-state contract.

However, FEMA gave a conflicting account, telling The Star-Ledger during the Friday hearing that the agency had not “blessed” Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to award the contract to Perkins’ company.

“Neither the Administrator nor the Chief Counsel of FEMA are familiar with the details concerning a New Jersey contract with AshBritt nor has either of them provided any approval of the contract on behalf of the Agency,” Lars Anderson, the agency’s director of public affairs, told The Star-Ledger.

FEMA: Consulting with state on debris contract