After last year’s six-month delay in allocating millions of federal Ryan White funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and services, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration says it plans to speed up this year’s process, The Times-Picayune reports.

According to the article, Fran Lawless, director of the mayor’s Office of Health Policy, told the city’s Housing and Human Needs Committee on January 13 that the March to October wait in 2008 was due to some larger providers failing to turn in invoices on time and because each contract needs to be signed off on by six city departments before it is presented to the mayor. The city health department’s new policy is to check the progress of contracts daily as they move through the city’s approval process. Lawless added that allocating grant awards to local service providers by March 15 should now be “doable” under the new plan.

About 4,000 people living in the New Orleans area are living with HIV/AIDS, with the number on the rise, making the efficiency of 2009’s grant distribution process critical.