New Orleans Faces Delay in Start of 2009 Ryan White Funding Distribution Process
Errors in a public notice last week in New Orleans have forced city officials to delay the start of the 2009 process for distributing an expected $5 million in Ryan White Program funding for local HIV/AIDS agencies, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. The announcement of the delay comes after Fran Lawless -- who serves as director of Mayor Ray Nagin's Office of Health Care Policy -- in October testified before the city council's Housing and Human Needs Committee that 2008 funding distribution was delayed by six months and that service providers went without funding from March to October.
According to the Times-Picayune, City Council member Arnie Fielkow called on officials to begin the application process for 2009 earlier in the year. In an effort to meet this request, officials listed a public request for proposals in the Times-Picayune on Dec. 8, 9 and 10, which set the deadline for picking up applications as Dec. 5 -- a date that had already past. The deadline for submission also was listed incorrectly in the electronic notice sent directly to the service providers, which left many of them confused, according to the Times-Picayune. Carlos Butler -- Health Policy office manager and the contact who was listed in the public notice -- said that the request for proposals was canceled and referred questions to Lawless and a Nagin spokesperson, who did not respond to requests for comment, the Times-Picayune reports.
Several agencies that receive funding to provide assistance to more than 4,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the city complained in October that they would be unable to operate if their funding continued to face delays as it had in 2008, according to the Times-Picayune. Doug Morgan, who administers Ryan White Program funding for the federal Health Resources and Service Administration, said, "Our hope is that some of the issues they faced in  will not be repeated in ." He added, "I'm unhappy to learn the initial draft of the (requests for proposal) had glitches in it. It sounds like they're close to repeating some of the timelines they had last year, and that makes me a little nervous."
A new notice appeared Tuesday in the Times-Picayune and the deadline for submitting requests was listed as Jan. 9. The notice also will appear Wednesday and Thursday in the newspaper. Dave Munroe of In This Together -- a not-for-profit agency serving 225 patients that was forced to shut down over the summer because of the delay in funding and reopened in October -- said that the agency will not apply for 2009 funding because of "continuing issues of truthfulness, transparency and professionalism" at the city level (Hammer, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 12/17).