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    Subject Term: "Disaster recovery"

    5 publications with a total of 10 open recommendations
    Director: William B. Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help business disaster victims and resource partners better access information about the disaster loan process, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should integrate information resources such as the fact sheet, reference guide, and three-step process flier into its disaster loan assistance web portal and Partner Training Portal in a way that is more accessible to users.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the disaster loan assistance portal includes links to various loan-related resources and a link to SBA.gov, where users can access the SBA Disaster Loan Program Reference Guide and online learning center. We will continue to follow up with SBA on whether the agency plans to centrally integrate the links to loan-related resources into its disaster loan assistance web portal and Partner Training Portal, so resources can be more accessible to users.
    Recommendation: To help reduce confusion about the disaster loan process and the time frames applicants may experience, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should ensure the consistency of content across its disaster loan process resources by including in these written and online resources, as appropriate, the following: (1) the three-step process; (2) the types of documentation SBA may request and the general reasons why such information may be requested; and (3) estimates of loan processing time frames applicants might experience and external factors, such as the severity of a disaster, that may affect these time frames using, for example, estimates from its forecasting and related planning tools.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the agency has provided a consistent messaging about the timeframe for making approval decisions on disaster loan applications: SBA's goal is to make a decision on all home and business disaster loan applications within 2-3 weeks, and this loan approval timeframe also is referenced in other loan-related resources and media interviews. We will continue to follow up with SBA on whether the agency plans to (a) ensure informational content is consistent across written and online resources, (b) also include in written and online resources the types of documentation SBA may request and general reasons for the information requests, and (c) tailor the general 2-3 week loan decision timeframe to the each disaster, including the severity of the disaster and other factors that may affect the timeframe, by using the agency's forecasting and related planning tools.
    Recommendation: To further assist disaster business loan applicants, the Administrator of the Small Business Administration should define technical terminology related to financial statements and other finance terminology on the disaster business loan application forms, in both electronic and paper format. For example, in the online application portal, SBA could incorporate a glossary in the "help" feature. Additionally, SBA could include a glossary in the paper application, so that business applicants who apply by mail can access the definitions as well as the general reasons why such information may be requested.

    Agency: Small Business Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: SBA stated that the agency is developing a glossary of business financial terms to clearly define terminology used in SBA home and business disaster loan applications and required supporting financial documents. Once completed, SBA stated that it will make the glossary available through the agency's disaster loan assistance portal and the SBA.gov website. We will follow up with SBA once the agency completes the glossary of business financial terms.
    Director: Michelle Sager
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to conduct a systematic analysis of the information generated from FEMA's readiness assessments to determine the extent of regional office efforts to help states implement the NDRF, including conducting education and outreach.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, its Office of Readiness Assessment (ORA) launched the 2016 bi-annual FEMA Readiness Assessment Program in April 2016, which includes NDRF related assessment discussions in five FEMA regions. We met with officials in April 2017, who told us that ORA plans to incorporate into this year's assessments, a retrospective review of NDRF findings and progress made in implementing the NDRF since 2013. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to develop best practices and lessons learned with regard to conducting NDRF education and outreach to states based on the analysis of readiness assessments and create a mechanism to disseminate and share those best practices and lessons learned to FEMA regional offices.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, its Recovery Support Function Leadership Group initiated an information management workgroup, which shares best practices information as one of its objectives. The workgroup has piloted the use of an existing interagency portal as a potential platform for improved information sharing. We met with officials in April 2017, who told us that FEMA will incorporate its 2016 readiness review findings and best practices from regional Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators for stakeholder outreach and education into the final platform build-out. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to clarify with regional offices and Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators (FDRCs) the role of the regional implementation plans in FDRC performance plans and how they will be used to assess NDRF regional implementation efforts.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, to achieve greater integration of FEMA's field leadership components, FEMA's Field Operations Directorate (FOD) convened a Field Leadership Working Group of senior subject matter experts to conduct a mission analysis of FEMA's Field Leadership function (which includes Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators as well as Federal Coordinating Officers and Incident Management Assistance Teams team leads). According to FEMA, one of the assigned tasks of the group involves developing performance metrics to define a steady state and operational performance framework for field leaders, to include Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators. According to FEMA, the Working Group is currently underway and is preparing a Field Leader Manual for review by FOD leadership. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enable a more effective approach in working with states to adopt the NDRF, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to align the annual FDRC performance expectations with clearly defined organizational goals and priorities, consistent with key management practices.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, the Field Leadership Working Group will implement the elements of this recommendation alongside efforts to clarify the role of the regional National Disaster Recovery Framework implementation plans. FEMA also provided documentation to GAO noting that the Working Group is progressing in its work on its Field Leadership Professional Development Plan. We will continue to monitor this to see what additional actions the agency takes in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Dagostino, Davi M
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOD's ability to conduct its civil support missions, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security Affairs, in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to conduct a review of staffing requirements for the Defense Coordinating Officers, Defense Coordinating Elements, and Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers in both the NORTHCOM and PACOM areas of responsibility that includes but is not limited to an assessment of staff size, subject-matter expertise, and military service composition by FEMA region.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation. DOD indicated several past and ongoing efforts will help address the recommendation. DOD highlighted, in particular, DOD Instruction 3025.16, "Defense Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO) Programs," published on September 8, 2011; and a draft instruction on "Defense Planning and Coordination in Support of Civil Authorities," which is undergoing substantial revision due to recent updates in the DOD initiative for DOD Support to Complex Catastrophes. DOD stated that is plans to issue the instruction in September 2014. In July 2013, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) stated that as part of the Secretary of Defense's initiative to Improve DOD support in Complex Catastrophes, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, in coordination with the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, based upon the requirements of NORTHCOM and U.S. Pacific Command, are to identify requirements and make recommendations to the Secretary of Defense to support effective DOD coordination and liaison with DOD's Federal, Regional, and State partners on complex catastrophe preparedness and response. As part of this effort, the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness will consider the feasibility of joint billets for DCOs, DCEs, EPLOs, JRMPOs, and Joint Force Headquarters (JFHQ)-States. As of September 2014, NORTHCOM's IG office stated that despite positive initiatives taken to date, a review of DCO/EPLO staffing requirements has not been completed. DOD, the Combatant Commands, and the Services would benefit from such an analysis. They added that despite positive actions taken to date to improve DCO/EPLO operations, multiple efforts are still ongoing that support this action item. DODD 3025.jj remains in development with OSD, the Services, and USNORTHCOM. A USNORTHCOM operational planning team is in the process of coordinating command and control relationships for DCOs and their Defense Coordinating Elements (DCE). Another effort is underway to revive the annual DSCA/IDR Preparedness Workshop, which provided a vehicle for coordination among all DOD DSCA participants to institutionalize these processes. USNORTHCOM and components are still evaluating requirements and potential solutions for providing additional staff support to the DCOs/DCEs.
    Director: Scire, Mathew J
    Phone: (202)512-6794

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To the extent that the CDBG program continues to be the primary vehicle used to provide post-disaster assistance for permanent housing, Congress may wish to consider providing more specific direction regarding the distribution of disaster-related CDBG assistance that states are to provide for homeowners and renters. If Congress wishes to change the proportion of assistance directed to homeowners and rental property owners in future recovery efforts, Congress could, for example, require states to demonstrate to HUD that they are adequately addressing the needs of both homeowners and renters with their CDBG allocation and other resources as a condition for receiving funds. Alternatively, Congress could direct HUD to develop a formula that accounts for the housing needs of both homeowners and renters. Such a formula could be used by states to determine the proportions of their disaster CDBG funds that should be used for housing, specifically rental housing. Further, the formula could also reflect the anticipated production levels of other programs that provide permanent housing assistance, such as the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: Since the Gulf Coast hurricanes, Congress appropriated CDBG Disaster Funding for subsequent disasters, including $16 billion to assist recovery in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy and other eligible events in calendar years 2011, 2012, and 2013. According to Pub. L. No. 113-2, Congress did not require states to demonstrate to HUD that they were adequately addressing the needs of both homeowners and renters. Moreover, Congress does not appear to have directed HUD to develop a formula that accounts for the housing needs of both homeowners and renters. As of January 2017, no CDBG appropriations for disaster relief have addressed this issue.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202)512-6225

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better enable EPA and its partner agencies to minimize the environmental risks resulting from future disasters, the EPA Administrator should work with potentially affected federal land management agencies, the Coast Guard, DHS, and FEMA to determine what actions are needed to ensure that environmental contamination on federal lands, such as national wildlife refuges, can be expeditiously and efficiently addressed in future disasters. Potential actions include the development of protocols or memorandums of understanding or amendments to the Stafford Act if the agencies determine that amendments are needed to achieve the timely availability of such funding when responding to disasters involving federal lands.

    Agency: Environmental Protection Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2016, EPA reported that the National Response Team considered this issue but decided that it was addressed by the Major Disasters, Section 405 of the Stafford Act and that no further action was needed. We will update the status of this recommendation when we complete our review of Section 405 and determine whether additional actions by EPA are needed to respond to disasters involving federal lands.