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April 23, 2018 DCA Contributes to Disaster Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

April 23, 2018 DCA Contributes to Disaster Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

Access to Information Technology System Has Potential to Save the Island  Millions of Dollars that Can Be Repurposed for Other Disaster Recovery Needs

Trenton, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today announced an agreement with the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority for use of a grant and financial management IT system that New Jersey developed with federal disaster recovery funds appropriated to the state after Superstorm Sandy. Allowing Puerto Rico to share the State’s information technology system, rather than developing similar software, could potentially save the island millions of dollars in its recovery effort from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

“I’ve directed our state agencies to do what we can to assist Puerto Ricans on the island and in New Jersey, and this is one area where we can make a real difference,” Governor Phil Murphy said. “We as a state developed some innovative software solutions to help us recover from Superstorm Sandy and we are passing this technology on for free to help our fellow Americans, many of whom are still without basic necessities more than six months later.”

“We know how traumatizing it is to be devastated by a storm. Therefore, it is incumbent on us as fellow storm survivors to help in any way we can,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, DCA Commissioner. “SIROMS is a state-of-the-art IT system according to disaster recovery experts and we anticipate it will benefit Puerto Rico as much, if not more, than New Jersey.”

The Sandy Integrated Recovery Operations and Management System (SIROMS) has enabled DCA to effectively implement its Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) programs, facilitate management and oversight of CDBG-DR funds, and ensure federal requirements are being met. The system, which DCA developed in 2013 in partnership with CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc. (CGI), employs a modular approach that allows new functions to be added based on changing needs throughout the recovery process. The system is agile and allows for unexpected changes to be quickly implemented.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is the federal agency responsible for allocating CDBG-DR funds to states and territories affected by natural disasters, has acknowledged the quality of SIROMS during its monitoring visits to New Jersey.

“Sharing SIROMS with our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico will serve to further restore normalcy and assist in revitalizing the economy,” said Rev. Joshua Rodriguez, lead pastor of Cityline Church in Jersey City, vice president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and chair of the New Jersey Commission on Puerto Rico Relief. “This generous gift from our Governor Phil Murphy and the people of New Jersey will enable the government of Puerto Rico to save millions of dollars in a time of so much need.”

The agreement with Puerto Rico specifies the following:

  • Puerto Rico has unlimited usage of SIROMS for their disaster recovery needs;
  • All privileged or personal identifying information related to New Jersey’s Sandy recovery efforts, its applicants, vendors, or any other data specific to New Jersey will be removed from the system before transferring to Puerto Rico; and
  • Puerto Rico and DCA have agreed to a bi-directional sharing structure whereby any new features and functionality developed by either Puerto Rico or New Jersey would be communicated regularly.

Today’s announcement is the latest effort by the Murphy administration to help Puerto Rico in the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes.

In February, Governor Murphy signed an Executive Order establishing the Commission on Puerto Rico Relief, an 18-member commission that is collaborating with state and federal agencies to expedite processes benefiting displaced Puerto Ricans in New Jersey, as well as examining ways the state can aid the island.

Additionally, Governor Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy traveled to Puerto Rico in December with members of the state legislature, business community, and faith-based community to assist with recovery efforts. There, Governor Murphy met with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló and promised to continue relief efforts.

DCA offers a wide range of programs and services that respond to issues of public concern including affordable housing production, fire safety and building safety, community planning and development, local government management and finance, and disaster recovery.

 

For more information regarding DCA, please log on to http://www.nj.gov/dca/.