Coastal Barriers:

Development Occurring Despite Prohibition Against Federal Assistance

RCED-92-115: Published: Jul 17, 1992. Publicly Released: Aug 17, 1992.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Victor S. Rezendes
(202) 512-6082
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on: (1) development in the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) since the enactment of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA); (2) the extent to which federal financial assistance is being prohibited within CBRS; (3) the effectiveness of federal agency processes to certify compliance with CBRA; and (4) the types and impact of federal regulatory activities within CBRS.

GAO found that: (1) 9 of 34 CBRS units have significant development under way since CBRA enactment; (2) particularly attractive CBRS units are prone to private development due to geographical makeup, accessibility, and a lack of alternative developable coastal land; (3) development on coastal barriers interferes with land mass movement, wildlife habitat, and inland protection from storms; (4) the Air Force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided assistance to property owners within CBRS, contrary to CBRA prohibitions; (5) federal agencies did not comply with certification process requirements or implement revised regulations for the certification process; and (6) the cumulative effect of added CBRS units and permits for dredging or filling threatens wetlands and adjacent aquatic habitats.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Department of the Interior deferred action on the task force until such time as Congress provides funding for the task force to do its work. As of April 17, 1995, Congress had not authorized the $600,000 that FWS estimated was needed to undertake the study. FWS officials do not believe that the funds will be forthcoming in view of the downsizing efforts under way at the agency. Therefore, GAO believes that action on this recommendation is unlikely.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior, as the agency head charged with providing a designee to serve as the chairperson for the Coastal Barriers Task Force, should promptly name his designee and encourage the other 10 agencies to promptly name their designees and direct the designated chairperson to promptly convene the task force to begin its work.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of the Air Force determined that the fair market value of the land easement granted to the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority was $66,600. In lieu of collecting the $66,600 from the Bridge Authority, the Department negotiated upgrades and concessions in construction and operation of the Mid-Bay Bridge that benefit the Air Force. The total value of these upgrades and concessions was calculated at $154,140.

    Recommendation: To correct the inappropriate granting of financial assistance at Eglin Air Force Base, the Secretary of the Air Force should determine the fair market value of the land easement and undertake to obtain that value from the Mid-Bay Bridge Authority.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In July 1998, FEMA ran its entire National Flood Insurance Policy database through a satellite mapping program (GIS program) to identify policies that appeared to be written in Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) areas. The resultant list was sent to insurance companies that issued the policies for resolution and their responses will be monitored to ensure that these policies are not improperly underwritten by FEMA. FEMA will repeat this process monthly for all new business and will monitor insurance companies' responses.

    Recommendation: To ensure that federal flood insurance policies are not written for properties in CBRS units, the Director, FEMA, should establish procedures to ensure that such policies are not underwritten in the future.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA does not believe that a review of federally underwritten flood insurance policies that now exist in CBRS units would be cost-effective. However, the agency continues to pursue the identification of ineligible properties in CBRS following a catastrophic flooding event.

    Recommendation: To ensure that federal flood insurance policies are not written for properties in CBRS units, the Director, FEMA, should identify and cancel all ineligible federally underwritten flood insurance policies that now exist in CBRS units.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of the Air Force issued guidance on October 9, 1992, to ensure that future real estate matters of a similar nature are consistent with GAO's interpretation of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Air Force should ensure that future Air Force actions are consistent with the CBRA attempt to discourage development on certain coastal barriers by prohibiting new federal expenditures and financial assistance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 6, 2016

Aug 24, 2016

May 26, 2016

Apr 18, 2016

Mar 24, 2016

Mar 10, 2016

Feb 4, 2016

Sep 29, 2015

Mar 25, 2015

Feb 19, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here