Government Agencies Working Together to Expedite Contractor Invoices

Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority

The Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) and the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are expediting outstanding payments due to contractors working on the territory’s FEMA Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) program, known locally as Emergency Home Repair VI (EHRVI) program, according to a press release from VIHFA.

The complicated approval process for invoices submitted by the program’s prime contractor, AECOM, involves multiple federal and local agencies. FEMA releases funds through VITEMA, its local agency counterpart, where invoices must go through an audited approval process. Then the V.I. Department of Finance must approve payments for the program before they are released to VIHFA.

“To date, AECOM has been paid $112 million for the work done in the program,” said Daryl Griffith, VIHFA’s executive director. “FEMA will not make any payments until repairs have passed inspection. Payments to the prime contractor can be delayed because the repairs on some homes have not passed inspection.”

“Presently, VIHFA is awaiting the release of a $5.7 million payment this week and a $20 million payment within two weeks. We will then immediately pay AECOM, which in turn is responsible for paying its subcontractors.”

EHRVI is a FEMA reimbursement program. Phase 1 was initially approved to perform minor emergency repairs in single-family, owner-occupied homes. Approximately 5,500 homes have been repaired through the EHRVI Phase 1 program.

In EHRVI Phase 2, permanent code compliant roof repairs have been completed on 841 homes. The program is actively working on 436 home roofs and will begin working shortly on an additional 617 roofs. The EHRVI program will have completed permanent code compliant roof repairs on over 1,800 homes in under eight months.

“Governor Bryan also recently was able to get FEMA to extend the program through March 31 and increase funding for the program,” Griffith said.