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    Subject Term: "Disaster relief aid"

    17 publications with a total of 33 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: Kay Brown
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure FEMA's regional activities effectively support individuals with disabilities, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to take steps to establish written procedures for how regions should involve the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination in clarifying disability integration staff's roles, evaluating staff performance, and setting expectations for how staff communicate with headquarters and the regions.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and FEMA's Office of Disability Integration and Coordination is in the process of establishing a working group that will clarify and codify the roles, responsibilities, and expectations among the various agency offices and personnel involved in carrying out the agency's disability integration mission. GAO will monitor the progress of these efforts. FEMA expects to complete these efforts by December 31, 2017. At that time, GAO will await documentation of the agency's procedures for carrying out its disability integration mission.
    Recommendation: To better position FEMA to expand access to key training on incorporating access and functional needs into emergency planning for state, local, and voluntary organization emergency management officials, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to evaluate alternative cost-effective methods for delivering its course on access and functional needs, such as via virtual classes.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and reported that it will explore options for updating one of its existing online courses--IS-368 "Including People with Disabilities and Other with Access and Functional Needs in Disaster Operations"--to tailor the content for a broader audience, including members of the public. The agency also reported that it will evaluate the need for alternative cost-effective methods for delivering other courses on inclusive emergency management it currently offers, such as its classroom course, "Integrating Access and Functional Need into Emergency Planning." The agency anticipates completing these efforts by December 31, 2017. When these efforts are complete, GAO will await documentation that the agency has evaluated its delivery of key training on incorporating access and functional needs into emergency planning.
    Recommendation: To help ensure its key training on incorporating access and functional needs into emergency planning reaches a sufficiently wide audience, the Secretary should direct the FEMA Administrator to collect information about the potential pool of participants, set general goals for the number of state and local emergency managers that will take this course, and implement the delivery methods needed to meet these goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and reported that it will work with its regional staff to map potential training participants in each state and set goals for delivery of the course to state and local emergency managers. The agency also reported that it may be able to use data in the State Preparedness Report and states' self-reporting on the need for training on integrating the needs of people with access and functional needs into emergency management. GAO will monitor the progress of these efforts. The agency anticipates completing these efforts by December 31, 2017.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: Given DOT's new discretionary grant programs and similar challenges we have found with previous DOT programs, the Secretary of Transportation should issue a directive that governs department-wide and modal administration discretionary grant programs. Such a directive should include requirements to: (1) develop a plan for evaluating project proposals in advance of issuing a notice of funding availability that defines the stages of the process, including how the process will be overseen to ensure a consistent review of applications; (2) document key decisions, including the reason for any rating changes and the officials responsible for those changes, and how high-level concerns raised during the process were addressed; and (3) align stated program purpose and policy priorities with the evaluation and selection process.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOT concurred with this recommendation. To fully implement this recommendation, DOT must issue a directive, to address our concerns and require DOT's operating administrations to develop and document procedures for all phases of the process for its discretionary grants.
    Recommendation: To better address FTA's stated policy priority of regional resilience and to minimize fragmentation of federal efforts, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the FTA Administrator to (a) examine the projects FTA funded under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 (DRAA) discretionary transit resilience grant program for potential duplication with other resilience efforts and (b) determine whether it is appropriate to realign funds for FTA-supported projects for other purposes authorized under the DRAA, or request a rescission of funds for any of the FTA-supported projects.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions DOT has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Anne-Marie Fennell
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help NMFS and the Councils incorporate climate information into the fisheries management process and better manage climate-related risks, the Secretary of Commerce should direct National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries to develop guidance to direct the NMFS regions and Councils on how climate information should be incorporated into different parts of the fisheries management process.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce and NOAA agreed with this recommendation. On December 2, 2016, the Department of Commerce provided GAO with a letter stating that NMFS will continue to work with the Regional Fishery Management Councils and other stakeholders to identify how to best incorporate climate-related information into the fisheries management process. The letter also identified a number of NMFS' ongoing and planned efforts related to this goal. We plan to follow-up with the agency in Summer 2017 to obtain an update on the status of these efforts and the extent to which they address our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help NMFS and the Councils incorporate climate information into the fisheries management process and better manage climate-related risks, the Secretary of Commerce should direct NOAA's Assistant Administrator for Fisheries to, in finalizing the regional action plans for implementing the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, (1) incorporate the key attributes associated with successful performance measures in the final performance measures developed for the plans and (2) assess whether agency-wide performance measures may be needed to determine the extent to which the objectives of the Strategy overall are being achieved, and develop such measures, as appropriate, that incorporate the key attributes of successful performance measures.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Commerce and NOAA agreed with this recommendation. In a letter to GAO on December 2, 2016, the Department of Commerce identified the following two actions that NMFS plans to take to address this recommendation by the end of calendar year 2017 - (1) NMFS will review the draft regional action plans and take appropriate action to ensure, to the extent possible, the performance measures in the final plans include key attributes of successful measures; and (2) NMFS will assess the need for agency-wide measures to track and evaluate achievement of the Strategy objective, and develop such measures as appropriate. We plan to follow-up with the agency in Summer 2017 to obtain an update on the status of these efforts.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Corps and FEMA carry out the national leveesafety- related activities required in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a plan, with milestones, for implementing these activities, using existing resources or requesting additional resources as needed. This plan could be posted on the Corps' website and monitored for progress.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Corps and FEMA carry out the national leveesafety- related activities required in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a plan, with milestones, for implementing these activities, using existing resources or requesting additional resources as needed. This plan could be posted on the Corps' website and monitored for progress.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    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: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enable FEMA to and more effectively respond to disasters, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a workforce strategy to manage and improve retention that includes a process for systematically gathering attrition data and a plan to retain IMAT Cadre-of On-Call Response Employees.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA provided an update on the status of actions taken in response to our report. In the update, FEMA officials said they had issued a new FEMA Human Capital Strategic Plan for fiscal years 2016-2020 that includes an objective to build a scalable and skilled workforce with associated measures including a decrease in attrition rate for permanent full time employees, and an increase in disaster workforce through improvements in the recruitment and retention of incident management employees. FEMA also stated that pay issues and work-life balance have been identified as contributing to retention on National Type I and Regional Type II IMATs. FEMA is actively addressing the pay issues. FEMA provided a brief summary of the actions being taken--which includes development of a policy that provides information on establishing base pay under the new pay system, movement within the pay bands, and merit-based increases is in development. Until completion of the action items, this recommendation will remain open. FEMA officials plan to provide a status update in October 2017.
    Director: Michele Mackin
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA OCPO and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should establish a plan to ensure that the agreement is reviewed on an annual basis as intended.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should direct OCPO and the regional administrators to revisit the 2011 service level agreement to: add details about the extent of operational control headquarters and regional supervisors should exercise to minimize potential competing interests experienced by regional contracting officers; further detail headquarters and regional supervisors' roles and responsibilities for managing regional contracting officers to improve coordination and communication; and ensure that the agreement reflects any new requirements, including recent changes in training that may require travel funds.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. According to FEMA officials, the Office of Procurement Operations has since formed a team that will address this recommendation. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.
    Recommendation: To address PKEMRA, the Secretary of Homeland Security should take action to address the requirements of Section 692 to implement subcontractor limitations or request that Congress amend the law to delete Section 692.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In 2016, DHS took steps to ask Congress to repeal PKEMRA Section 692, which prohibits the use of subcontracts for more than 65 percent of the cost of cost-reimbursement type contracts that exceed the simplified acquisition threshold. DHS submitted a legislative change proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who approves such proposals before they are submitted to Congress. OMB approved the proposed change for PKEMRA Section 692 in April 2016. We will provide additional updates as information becomes available.
    Director: Beryl H. Davis
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that DOT produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, as applicable to each administration, the Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrators of the Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Transit Administration to revise their policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) clearly identifying roles and responsibilities for estimating improper payments; (2) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (3) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (4) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates; (6) requiring that the sampling methodologies meet the precision requirements outlined in OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; and (7) requiring a consultation with a statistician to ensure the validity of sample design, sample size, and measurement methodology.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: On April 14, 2017, we were informed that the Office of the Chief Financial Officer has oversight over the Department of Transportation's (DOT) improper payments implementation and is revising DOT's policies for estimating improper payments. DOT plans to complete this action by 10/31/2017. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development should direct appropriate officials to revise its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by (1) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (IPIA), as amended, and (2) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested.

    Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: Overall, we believe the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is on track for taking corrective actions that meet the intent of GAO recommendation. For example, we believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to HUD revising its policies and procedures for estimating improper payments. Specifically, we have reviewed HUD's updated recapture audit plan dated June 26, 2015, and verified it requires payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing. However, we do not believe HUD has met the intent of this recommendation with regards to including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested. Specifically, we have not seen where HUD's policies and procedures show how HUD ensures that it is selecting from a complete list of grantee files when conducting tests related to estimating improper payments. On July 19, 2017, a HUD official explained that HUD does not have controls in place to ensure that the grantee files are complete. Further, the HUD official indicated that the grantee files come from the grantee, and HUD relies on the grantees to provide a complete list of files. However, HUD does not currently have a way to verify that this list is complete. According to the HUD official, HUD he will explore options HUD can implement for ensuring that grantee files are complete, including possibly having grantees to sign a statement certifying that their grantee files are complete when provided to HUD. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help reduce the risk that improper payment estimates related to DRAA funding developed and reported by selected agencies may not be accurate or reliable, and to help ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) produces reliable estimates of its DRAA improper payments, the Secretary of the Army should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of USACE to revise policies and procedures for estimating improper payments by: (1) defining improper payments consistently with IPIA, as amended, and OMB Circular No. A-123, Appendix C; (2) requiring payments to federal employees to be included in populations for testing as required by IPIA, as amended; (3) including steps to assess the completeness of the population of transactions used for selecting the samples to be tested; (4) providing sufficient procedures for determining an error and what documentation is necessary to substantiate payment; and (5) requiring the agency to maintain sufficient documentation to support improper payment estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Army
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 5, 2017, no updated information has been provided by the Department of Defense. We will continue to monitor the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Seto J. Bagdoyan
    Phone: (202) 512-6722

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help FEMA prevent improper payments, the Administrator of FEMA should assess the cost and feasibility of addressing limitations in FEMA's control for identifying duplicate information in applications in high-risk data fields--such as SSN, bank-account information, address, and phone number--that may currently allow individuals or households to improperly receive multiple payments, and if determined to be costbeneficial take steps to address the system design limitation.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA reported that the agency had reviewed its software system's controls for identifying duplicate SSNs, bank account, address, and phone information. FEMA reported that it would be cost effective and feasible to improve its software system's controls for identifying duplicate address information, and the agency expects to deploy these system changes in the summer of 2017. FEMA also reported that, based on its review of the cases GAO referred to FEMA, errors in SSN and bank account information were related to human casework processing rather than software system limitations. Consequently, FEMA reported that it was reviewing and updating its casework training, guidance, and quality control documentation. We will continue to monitor FEMA's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help FEMA prevent improper payments, the Administrator of FEMA should collaborate with SSA to assess the cost and feasibility of checking recipient SSNs against the Enumeration Verification System and the full death file to more accurately identify recipients who used Social Security numbers (SSNs) that were ineligible or belonged to likely deceased individuals, document the results of this assessment, and if determined to be cost-beneficial take steps to implement a partnership to use SSA data.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA reported that the agency completed a cost estimate for system changes needed to include a direct data exchange with SSA. FEMA further reported that the agency was continuing to explore alternative means of conducting a direct data exchange that would help FEMA verify if an SSN belongs to a deceased person. We will continue to monitor FEMA's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Gomez, Jose A
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To promote forward-looking construction and rebuilding efforts while FEMA phases out most subsidies, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to consider amending NFIP minimum standards for floodplain management to incorporate, as appropriate, forward-looking standards, similar to the minimum standard adopted by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, the Department of Homeland Security reaffirmed that they agreed with the recommendation, and would begin implementing it after implementing the statutory mandates in the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The Department estimated that it would begin implementing our recommendation in 2018 and complete its implementation by 2020.
    Recommendation: To promote greater resilience to climate change effects in U.S. agriculture, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct RMA to consider working with agricultural experts to recommend or incorporate resilient agricultural practices into their expert guidance for growers, so that good farming practices take into account longterm agricultural resilience to climate change.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2016, USDA issued Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry: Implementation Plan and Progress Report as USDA's framework for helping farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners respond to climate change, through voluntary and incentive-based actions. The report establishes long-term goals for improving agricultural resilience to climate change, which could reduce federal fiscal exposure for federally-insured crops. However, USDA has framed its resilience-building actions for producers as voluntary, rather than incorporating them into the good farming practices required to be eligible for insurance payouts. As a result, it is unclear to what extent federal crop insurance policyholders will use the information provided to improve their resilience.
    Director: Daniel Garcia-Diaz
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As FEMA determines the scope of its efforts to revise its existing guidance, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should direct the Administrator of FEMA to update existing guidance to include additional information on and options for mitigating the risk of flood damage to agricultural structures to reflect recent farming developments and structural needs in vast and deep floodplains.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: To obtain information for updating existing guidance, FEMA engaged a contractor in April 2016 to conduct Phase 1 of a study evaluating recent farming developments. The June 2016 report from the contractor provided FEMA with information on the types of flood damage agricultural buildings and contents can sustain, required mitigation measures under NFIP, and insurance that is currently available to farmers. Phase 2 of the study is underway. This phase will identify the number and types of agricultural structures and the legislation, regulations, and various agency programs affecting the management of these structures; analyze the feasibility of mitigation options for these structures across different types of floodplains; and explore rating guidelines and potential mitigation techniques that could result in reduced risk or rates for agricultural structures. FEMA expects to receive a draft of the Phase 2 study from the contractor in July 2017. GAO will continue to monitor FEMA's progress.
    Director: Davis, Beryl H
    Phone: (202) 512-2623

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To proactively prepare for oversight of future disaster relief funding, the Director of OMB should develop standard guidance for federal agencies to use in designing internal control plans for disaster relief funding. Such guidance could leverage existing internal control review processes and should include, at a minimum, the following elements: (1) robust criteria for identifying and documenting incremental risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and (2) requirements for documenting the linkage between the incremental risks related to disaster funding and efforts to address known internal control risks.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: To address the recommendation, OMB should issue guidance on internal control for disaster relief funding, including criteria for identifying additional risks and mitigating controls related to the funding and a requirement to link these incremental risks to ongoing efforts to address known internal control risks. On July 15, 2016, OMB issued the revised Circular No. A-123, Management's Responsibility for Enterprise Risk Management and Internal Control. The Circular requires agencies to implement enterprise risk management, which includes the development of a risk profile that analyzes the risks faced in achieving strategic objectives and identifies options for addressing them. In April 2017, OMB staff stated that they believe that the implementation of enterprise risk management through Circular No. A-123 satisfies the intent our recommendation. Because the responsibility for implementing enterprise risk management lies with agency management, Circular No. A-123 does not include specific guidance for identifying risks related to disaster funding. Further discussion and documentation to support OMB's position that the revised Circular addresses our recommendation will be necessary.
    Director: Currie, Christopher
    Phone: (404)679-3000

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the process for disaster declarations, the FEMA Administrator should develop and implement a methodology that provides a more comprehensive assessment of a jurisdiction's capability to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance. This should include one or more measures of a jurisdiction's fiscal capacity, such as TTR, and consideration of the jurisdiction's response and recovery capabilities. If FEMA continues to use the PA per capita indicator to assist in identifying a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster, it should adjust the indicator to accurately reflect the annual changes in the U.S. economy since 1986, when the current indicator was first adopted for use. In addition, implementing the adjustment by raising the indicator in steps over several years would give jurisdictions more time to plan for and adjust to the change.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: On January 20, 2016, FEMA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit comments on an option FEMA is considering to establish a disaster deductible, which would require a predetermined level of financial or other commitment from a recipient, generally the state or territorial government, before FEMA would provide assistance under the Public Assistance Program. According to FEMA, the agency received 150 responses during the 60-day public comment period, which ended on March 21, 2016, and used this input to develop a plan for further engagement on a more detailed proposal for public comment. The Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published on January 12, 2017, provided another opportunity for stakeholder input prior to any changes to the Public Assistance program. This proposal included an explanation of how deductible amounts might be calculated, identified specific credits that states could apply for, and detailed how the deductible would be applied post-declaration. Comments on the Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking must be submitted by April 12, 2017. Until FEMA implements a new methodology, FEMA will not have an accurate assessment of a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance and runs the risk of recommending that the President award Public Assistance to jurisdictions that have the capability to respond and recover on their own.
    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: Williams, Orice M
    Phone: (202)512-5837

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to take steps to ensure that its rate-setting methods and the data it uses to set rates result in full-risk premiums rates that accurately reflect the risk of losses from flooding. These steps should include, for example, verifying the accuracy of flood probabilities, damage estimates, and flood maps; ensuring that the effects of long-term planned and ongoing development, as well as climate change, are reflected in the flood probabilities used; and reevaluating the practice of aggregating risks across zones.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, FEMA is taking steps to verify the accuracy of flood probabilities by collecting and analyzing data from flood insurance studies. FEMA is also continuing to monitor the completion of these studies to determine when a statistically valid amount of data is available so that it can better assess flood risk. To verify the accuracy of damage estimates, FEMA is collecting data required to revise its estimates of flood damage and is undertaking studies to determine factors beyond flood water depth that contribute to flood damage. FEMA will incorporate that information into its rate-setting methodology as the necessary data becomes available. To verify the accuracy of flood maps, FEMA continues to reassess flood risk, evaluate coastal flood maps, and update its overall map inventory. To ensure that flood probabilities reflect long-term and ongoing planned development and climate change, FEMA is working with the Technical Mapping Advisory Committee to ensure the best available information on flood probabilities is used for rate-setting. In addition, as FEMA collects information on flood probabilities, it will conduct analyses to evaluate the practice of classifying risk across zones.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should direct FEMA to ensure that information is collected on the location, number, and losses associated with existing and newly created grandfathered properties in NFIP and to analyze the financial impact of these properties on the flood insurance program.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: To assess the impact of grandfathered properties on the NFIP, as of January 2017, FEMA has begun to develop a process to obtain current zone designations for all existing policyholders. In addition, FEMA is requiring zone determination data to be updated as flood maps change. According to FEMA, this will allow officials to determine which policyholders are grandfathered but will not allow the determination of a property-specific rate in all circumstances.
    Director: Siggerud, Katherine A
    Phone: (202)512-6570

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to put the Emergency Relief program on a sound financial footing, Congress may wish to consider the expected future demands on the program and reexamine the appropriate level and sources of funding--including whether to increase the $100 million annual authorized funding and whether the Highway Trust Fund, the General Fund, or some combination would allow the program to accomplish its purpose in a fiscally sustainable manner.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, Congress has not yet taken action on this recommendation. The Emergency Relief Program is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.
    Recommendation: Congress may also wish to consider tightening the eligibility criteria for Emergency Relief funding, either through amending the purpose of the Emergency Relief program, or by directing FHWA to revise its program regulations. Revised criteria could include limitations on the use of Emergency Relief funds to fully finance projects with scope and costs that have grown as a result of environmental and community concerns.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of October 2017, Congress has not yet taken action on this recommendation. The Emergency Relief Program is due to be reauthorized in fiscal year 2021.