NEW ORLEANS - Congress' investigative arm found that faulty pumps along New Orleans' drainage canals were rushed into place last year but that the contract and operation were handled properly, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D., La.) said yesterday.

Landrieu said an investigation by the Government Accountability Office found no evidence of fraud or improper influence in the pump project handled by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The pumps were rushed into operation before the June 1 start of the 2006 hurricane season. The previous year, Hurricane Katrina inundated 80 percent of the city after its flood-protection system failed.

A May 2006 memo by a corps inspector working on the pump project, provided to the Associated Press earlier this year, warned that the pumps were faulty and would not work if needed to remove water during a hurricane. The GAO opened its inquiry after the memo surfaced.

Landrieu said she was briefed yesterday on the forthcoming GAO report. A GAO official who led the investigation, Anu Mittal, declined comment, saying the final version of the report was not complete.

The corps has insisted the pumps would have worked, but last year's unexpectedly mild hurricane season never tested them.

The pumps have since been overhauled and are ready for this year's hurricane season, said Corps Col. Jeffrey Bedey, who is overseeing reconstruction of New Orleans' levee system.