New Orleans Officials Should Ensure That ‘Glitch’ in Ryan White Process Will Not Create ‘Problem’ With 2009 Grants, Editorial Says
"The grant process for agencies working with" HIV-positive people is "maddening," a New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial says. According to the editorial, it "took six months" for Mayor Ray Nagin's administration to "distribute $7 million in federal grant money this year," and the city's Office of Health Policy "received the money" from the Ryan White Program in March but did not "send out grant award notices to agencies until June." It adds that contracts were not "finalized until last month."
Following criticism from the City Council on the "slow-moving process," Health Policy Director Fran Lawless "promised that her office would do better with the next round of grants," the editorial says, adding, "Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case so far." According to the editorial, a "public notice published last week to launch the 2009 process included errors that forced the city to cancel the effort and push back its start." It adds, "Even the best operations can make the type of clerical errors in the failed notice. And there are points in the public notice process where things can occasionally go wrong." However, "these problems are worrisome considering the office's history of delays," the editorial says, adding that Nagin "needs to make sure the office's director and employees can efficiently accomplish this task or find some who can." Concerns from officials involved with the grant process "surely pal[e] in comparison with the anguish of more than 4,000 people with HIV/AIDS who get treatment and case management services from the entities that the grants fund," according to the editorial. It adds, "At least one of those agencies had to close during the summer because of the city's delays. That left hundreds of people without the help they need." The editorial concludes that city "officials promise that the glitch in the process won't cause a problem with the 2009 grants. They need to ensure that it doesn't" (New Orleans Times-Picayune, 12/22).