Disaster Assistance:

Timeliness and Other Issues Involving the Major Disaster Declaration Process

RCED-89-138: Published: May 25, 1989. Publicly Released: May 25, 1989.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the major disaster declaration (MDD) process, focusing on: (1) the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) and White House's timeliness in reaching MDD decisions; (2) the procedures for making decisions public; and (3) any indications of political considerations influencing the decisions.

GAO found that: (1) FEMA and the White House processed MDD requests in a timely manner; (2) on average, the federal government reached a decision in 10 days, with the White House accounting for 3.5 days; (3) FEMA has established adequate procedures for disseminating information on MDD requests; (4) the White House retains decisionmaking authority for declaring major disasters and for disclosing information on its decisions; and (5) there was no evidence that political considerations affected White House MDD decisions.

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