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entitled 'Status of FEMA's FY03 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program' which 
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April 28, 2004:

The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka:

Ranking Minority Member:

Subcommittee on Financial Management, the Budget and International 

Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs:

United States Senate:

Subject: Status of FEMA's FY03 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program:

Dear Senator Akaka:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides federal 
disaster assistance to help those in need respond to, prepare for, and 
recover from disasters. As the costs for disaster assistance have 
risen, FEMA has made disaster mitigation a primary goal in its efforts 
to reduce the long-term cost of disasters and minimize risk to property 
and individuals from natural or man-made hazards. Previous FEMA 
mitigation grant programs were formula-based and provided funds both 
prior to and after a disaster occurred. Fiscal Year 2003, marks the 
first-time FEMA has implemented a grant program that awards funds for 
mitigation activities on a competitive basis.

You asked us to review the status of FEMA's implementation of the 
Fiscal Year 2003 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program. This report presents 
information on (1) FEMA's processes and criteria for awarding planning 
and competitive pre-disaster mitigation grants to states and 
localities, and (2) the status of FEMA's efforts to implement the 
Fiscal Year 2003 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program.

We reviewed fiscal year 2003 guidance, interviewed FEMA headquarters 
officials, and analyzed data regarding planning and project 
applications. To assess the reliability of the pre-disaster mitigation 
application and grant data presented in the briefing, we interviewed 
agency officials knowledgeable about the data and the system that 
produced them and reviewed existing information about the application 
process. We determined that the data were sufficiently reliable for the 
purposes of this briefing. We conducted our review from November 2003 
through February 2004 in accordance with generally accepted government 
auditing standards.

We provided your staff with a formal briefing on March 12, 2004. This 
report includes the briefing slides used at the presentation and 
summarizes our findings and FEMA's lessons learned from the 
implementation of the Fiscal Year 2003 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program 
to improve the program in the future.

In summary, we found the following with regard to processes and 
criteria for awarding planning and competitive grant awards:

* In 2003, Congress appropriated $150 million to initiate the 
implementation of a competitive pre-disaster mitigation grant program. 
This is the first-time FEMA has implemented a competitive mitigation 
grant program.

* The Fiscal Year 2003 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program included 
approximately $13.7 million for noncompetitive planning grants and 
approximately $131.5 million for competitive pre-disaster grants for 
mitigation activities and technical assistance. Each of the 55 states 
and territories were eligible to receive approximately $250,000 in 
noncompetitive grants. FEMA awarded the competitive grants based on a 
ranking and evaluation process.

* FEMA assessed the applications for the competitive mitigation grants 
for eligibility and technical feasibility. FEMA then ranked and 
evaluated the applications using both quantitative and qualitative 
factors for selection of competitive award grants.

In summary, we found the following with regard to implementation of the 
Fiscal Year 2003 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program:

* FEMA had obligated all of the $13.7 million in noncompetitive 
planning grants to 54 states and territories that applied.

* FEMA received 459 competitive grant applications. Approximately 40 
percent of the competitive grant applications submitted by the states, 
tribes, and territories did not meet eligibility and technical 
feasibility requirements. FEMA attributes this to the short application 

* FEMA identified 200 applications to award competitive grants. These 
applications have a value of $98.7 million and cover 37 states, 2 
territories, and 6 tribes. FEMA expected to begin awarding the 
competitive grants mid-March 2004.

* FEMA plans to use lessons learned from the implementation of the 
Fiscal Year 2003 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program to improve the program 
in the future. These lessons include (1) implementing a longer 
application period, (2) sequentially reviewing grant applications to 
reduce inefficient use of resources, and (3) making the e-Grant 
application form standard with paper applications to reduce processing 

We met with FEMA's Risk Reduction Branch Chief for Mitigation and other 
FEMA officials in the Mitigation Division to discuss the facts of this 
report. They generally agreed with the information in the briefing and 
provided some clarifying comments that we incorporated as appropriate.

As agrred with your office, unless you publicly announce its contents 
earlier, we plan no further distribution of this report until 30 days 
from the date of this report. At that time, we will send copies of this 
report to the congressional committees and subcommittees responsible 
for issues related to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. In 
addition, this report will be available at no charge on GAO's Web site 

If you have any questions about this briefing or need additional 
information, please contact me at (202) 512-8757. Key contributors to 
this briefing were Chris Keisling, Kirk Kiester, and Mark Abraham.

Sincerely yours,

Signed by: 

William O. Jenkins:

Director, Homeland Security and Justice:


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