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    Subject Term: "Flood insurance"

    11 publications with a total of 21 open recommendations
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As Congress considers reauthorizing NFIP, it should consider comprehensive reform to improve the program's solvency and enhance the nation's resilience to flood risk, which could include actions in six areas: (1) addressing the current debt, (2) removing existing legislative barriers to FEMA's revising premium rates to reflect the full risk of loss, (3) addressing affordability, (4) increasing consumer participation, (5) removing barriers to private-sector involvement, and (6) protecting NFIP flood resilience efforts. In implementing these reforms, Congress should consider the sequence of the actions and their interaction with each other.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we determine what steps the Congress has taken, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the transparency and accountability over the compensation paid to WYO companies and set appropriate compensation rates, the FEMA administrator should take into account WYO company characteristics that may impact companies' expenses and profits when developing the new compensation methodology and rates.

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

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act.
    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: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address a potential challenge for consumers who wish to opt for private flood insurance and who must have insurance under the mandatory purchase requirement, the FEMA Administrator should consider reinstating the cancellation reason code allowing policyholders to cancel their NFIP policy and be eligible for premium refunds, on a prorated basis, if they obtain a non-NFIP policy after their NFIP policy became effective. If changes are needed to NFIP's standard flood insurance policy to allow such refunds, FEMA should take the necessary steps to amend its standard flood insurance policy.

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

    Comments: FEMA agreed with our recommendation and stated it would reinstate the cancellation code allowing policyholders to cancel their NFIP policy and be eligible for premium refunds in an April 2017 bulletin, effective October 1, 2017, followed up by a subsequent rulemaking. However, as of November 2017, the bulletin had not been issued. In May 2017, FEMA officials noted that the reinstatement of the cancellation code would be part of a proposed regulation package to be completed over the next several years.
    Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that adequate data collection efforts by state insurance regulators produce sufficient, reliable data to oversee the LPI market, NAIC should work with the state insurance regulators to develop and implement more robust policies and procedures for the collection of annual data from LPI insurers to ensure they are complete and reliable.

    Agency: National Association of Insurance Commissioners
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that adequate data collection efforts by state insurance regulators produce sufficient, reliable data to oversee the LPI market, NAIC should work with the state insurance regulators to complete efforts to obtain more detailed national data from LPI insurers.

    Agency: National Association of Insurance Commissioners
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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: Cackley, Alicia P
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To establish full-risk rates for properties with previously subsidized rates that reflect their risk for flooding, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop and implement a plan, including a timeline, to obtain needed elevation information as soon as practicable.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: As we reported in February 2016 in GAO-16-190, FEMA has taken limited action to implement this recommendation. For example, FEMA noted that the agency would evaluate the appropriate approach for obtaining or requiring the submittal of information needed to determine full-risk rates for subsidized properties. FEMA also said it would explore technological advancements and engage with industry to determine the availability of technology, building information data, readily available elevation data, and current flood hazard data that could be used to implement the recommendation. However, FEMA officials also said that the agency faced a cost challenge with respect to elevation certificates and that obtaining these certificates could take considerable time and cost. They noted that requiring policyholders to incur the cost of obtaining elevation certificates would not be consistent with NFIP's policy objective to promote affordability. The officials added that the agency encourages subsidized policyholders who seek to ensure the appropriateness of their NFIP rates to voluntarily submit elevation documentation.
    Director: Brown, Orice Williams
    Phone: (202)512-5837

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve strategic planning, performance management, and program oversight within and related to NFIP, the Secretary of DHS should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop a comprehensive workforce plan according to PKEMRA that identifies agency staffing and skills requirements, addresses turnover and staff vacancies, and analyzes FEMA's use of contractors.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, as of July 2016, FEMA is in the process of developing a Workforce Strategic Plan they say will contribute to organizational performance and mission by enabling FEMA to align the overall workforce with strategic priorities. FEMA expected to complete the plan by the first quarter of FY2017. As of December 2016, FEMA officials said they were still working to implement this recommendation and agreed to provide us with an update of their progress.
    Recommendation: To improve FEMA's policies, procedures, and systems for achieving NFIP's program goals, the Secretary of DHS should direct the FEMA Administrator to consider the costs and benefits of implementing an interim system for FEMA and updating its document management policies and procedures while waiting for DHS to implement an agencywide electronic document management system.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA officials stated that, as of July 2016, FEMA is working to pilot an Electronic Records Management System (ERMS). They said that they expected to have all email records in an electronic state by December 31, 2016, and all records in an electronic state by December 31, 2019. They said that they expect the end state in 2019 to meet the Presidential Directive and NARA guidelines. As of December 2016, FEMA officials said they were still working to implement this recommendation and agreed to provide us with an update of their progress.
    Recommendation: To improve FEMA's policies, procedures, and systems for achieving NFIP's program goals, the Secretary of DHS should direct the FEMA Administrator to establish timelines for and complete the development and implementation of FEMA's revised acquisition process, in line with the DHS Acquisition Directive 102-01, including a rollout process with staff training and a mechanism to better ensure that all acquisitions undergo the necessary reviews.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: FEMA officials stated that, as of July 2016, a Disaster Acquisitions Response Team (DART) was in place along with metrics in place to monitor the team's success. They said they had also awarded a contract to serve as a contract file repository and that previously scanned contract files would be uploaded by December 31, 2016. As of December 2016, FEMA officials said they were still working to implement this recommendation and agreed to provide us with an update of their progress.
    Director: Brown, Orice Williams
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to determine in advance the amounts built into the payment rates for estimated expenses and profit.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA's current payment rates do not explicitly consider WYO insurers' actual expenses and profit.
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to annually analyze the amounts of actual expenses and profit in relation to the estimated amounts used in setting payment rates.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. However, GAO has reported that an annual analysis of the WYO insurers' actual expenses and profit could be regularly performed in relation to FEMA's existing payment methodology.
    Recommendation: To provide transparency and accountability over the payments FEMA makes to WYOs for expenses and profits, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to consider the results of the analysis of payments, actual expenses, and profit in evaluating the methods for paying WYOs.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act.
    Recommendation: To increase the usefulness of the data reported by WYOs to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and to institutionalize FEMA's use of such data, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to take actions to obtain reasonable assurance that NAIC flood insurance expense data can be considered in setting payment rates that are appropriate, including identifying affiliated company profits in reported flood insurance expenses.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA can also take actions, in addition to any actions related to the rule, to develop method(s) for obtaining reasonable assurance that NAIC data is accurate and usable for setting payment rates before implementation of a new compensation methodology.
    Recommendation: To increase the usefulness of the data reported by WYOs to the National Association NAIC and to institutionalize FEMA's use of such data, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Under Secretary of Homeland Security, FEMA, to develop comprehensive data analysis strategies to annually test the quality of flood insurance data that WYOs report to NAIC.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA can also take actions, in addition to any actions related to the rule, to develop and implement data analysis strategies to annually test the quality of flood insurance data WYO insurers report to NAIC before implementation of a new compensation methodology.
    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.