It took New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin's administration more than half a year to distribute money to agencies serving more than 4,000 HIV-positive people living in the city, The Times-Picayune reports.

Fran Lawless, director of Mayor Nagin's Office of Health Care Policy, told the City Council's Housing and Human Needs Committee that while the city received $7 million through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program on March 1, it did not send out grant award notices to case management agencies and did not finalize contracts—which are required for the Ryan White money to be spent—until October.

Lawless affirmed that some of the city's HIV/AIDS agencies were slow to file spending invoices and cited “implementation problems” for the long process, adding that “it will flow better from now on.”

However, Lawless's testimony was met with criticism from council members, including Council committee chairman Arnie Fielkow.

“Why does it take that long?” he asked. “We're not dealing with a pothole here. We're dealing with life.”