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    Subject Term: Disasters

    17 publications with a total of 39 open recommendations including 6 priority recommendations
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve employee misconduct policies and procedures, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to document policies and procedures to address potential Surge Capacity Force misconduct.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had developed and documented misconduct policies and procedures for most employees, but not its entire workforce. Specifically, FEMA had not documented misconduct policies and procedures for Surge Capacity Force members, who may augment FEMA's workforce in the event of a catastrophic disaster. As a result, we recommended that FEMA document policies and procedures to address potential Surge Capacity Force misconduct. In September 2017, FEMA officials reported taking action to address this recommendation. Specifically, FEMA distributed a memorandum to Federal Coordinating Officers and Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators providing guidance on how and to whom to report allegations of misconduct by Surge Capacity Force members, coordination efforts regarding investigations, and how to address the member's duty status during the course of an investigation. FEMA stated that it will further address this recommendation by updating the FEMA Human Capital Plan for the Surge Capacity Force. FEMA expects to complete this effort by June 30, 2018. This recommendation will remain open until the Human Capital Plan is updated.
    Recommendation: In order to improve employee misconduct policies and procedures, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to document Reservist disciplinary options and appeals policies and procedures that are currently in practice at the agency.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) policies and procedures for Reservist employees did not outline disciplinary options to address misconduct or address the appeals process available for Reservists. As a result, we recommended that FEMA document Reservist disciplinary options and appeals policies and procedures that are currently in practice at the agency. In September 2017, FEMA reported that the Office of Response and Recovery was drafting an addendum to the FEMA Reservist program manual. FEMA expects to complete this action by December 31, 2017. This recommendation will remain open until the addendum is complete.
    Recommendation: In order to improve employee misconduct policies and procedures, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to communicate the range of penalties for specific misconduct offenses to all employees and supervisors.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not communicate a range of offenses and penalties for misconduct to its entire workforce. Rather, such information was communicated to supervisors and employees on a case-by-case basis. To improve transparency we recommended that FEMA communicate the range of penalties for specific misconduct offenses to all supervisors and employees. As of September 2017, FEMA officials reported that they had drafted a new table of penalties, which was undergoing internal review within FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. FEMA expects this process to be complete by December 31, 2017. This recommendation will remain open until the table is finalized and communicated to supervisors and employees.
    Recommendation: In order to better identify and address trends in employee misconduct, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to improve the quality and usefulness of the misconduct data it collects by implementing quality control measures, such as adding additional drop-down fields with standardized entries, adding unique case identifier fields, developing documented guidance for data entry, or considering the adoption of database software.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found limitations related to the quality and usefulness of employee misconduct data collected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA). For example, we found data collection differed across the agency, there was limited standardization of data fields, and a lack of documented guidance on data entry. As a result, we recommended that FEMA improve its employee misconduct data by implementing quality control measures or considering the adoption of database software that would help standardize data collection across FEMA. In September 2017, FEMA officials reported they had secured funding to purchase hardware and software for a case management system to track misconduct complaints. If implemented, this system should improve FEMA's ability to more efficiently and effectively manage and track case information. FEMA estimates that it will complete this action by March 31, 2018. This recommendation will remain open until the new case management system is in place and operational.
    Recommendation: In order to better identify and address trends in employee misconduct, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to, once the quality of the data is improved, conduct routine reporting on employee misconduct trends.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not regularly conduct trend analysis on misconduct cases, and that quality of the data restricted the agency's ability to identify and address trends. As a result, we recommended that, once steps were taken to improve the quality of the data, FEMA should conduct routine reporting on employee misconduct trends. In September 2017, FEMA officials reported they were procuring a case management system to track misconduct complaints. If implemented, this system should improve FEMA's ability to analyze misconduct data and identify and report on trends. FEMA estimates that it will complete this action by March 31, 2018. This recommendation will remain open until FEMA generates trend analysis and reports from the new system.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure that all allegations of employee misconduct referred by DHS OIG are reviewed and addressed, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the FEMA Administrator to develop reconciliation procedures to consistently track referred cases.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not establish effective procedures to ensure that all misconduct cases referred to FEMA by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) were accounted for and subsequently reviewed and addressed. As a result, we recommended that FEMA develop reconciliation procedures to consistently track referred cases. In September 2017, FEMA officials reported they had secured funding to purchase hardware and software for a case management system to track misconduct complaints. In addition, officials reported that they are working with DHS OIG to coordinate case management coding across systems. FEMA estimates that it will complete these actions by March 31, 2018. If implemented, the new system should improve FEMA's ability to track OIG referred cases. In order to fully address this recommendation, FEMA must complete these steps and also demonstrate that reconciliation procedures are in place.
    Director: Joe Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As DOD plans to respond to a pandemic, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and other DOD officials, as appropriate, to use DOD's existing coordination mechanisms with HHS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to explore opportunities to improve their preparedness and response to a pandemic if DOD's capabilities are limited.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As HHS plans to respond to a pandemic, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to use HHS's existing coordination mechanisms with DOD and FEMA to explore opportunities to improve their preparedness and response to a pandemic if DOD's capabilities are limited.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As DHS, through FEMA, plans to respond to a pandemic, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA to use FEMA's existing coordination mechanisms with DOD and HHS to explore opportunities to improve their preparedness and response to a pandemic if DOD's capabilities are limited.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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: 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: Joseph W. Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that decision makers have immediate visibility into all capabilities of the National Guard that could support civil authorities in a cyber incident, the Secretary of Defense should maintain a database that can fully and quickly identify the cyber capabilities that the National Guard in the 50 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia have and could be used--if requested and approved--to support civil authorities in a cyber incident.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To better prepare DOD to support civil authorities in a cyber incident, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Cyber Policy, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, the Commander of U.S. Northern Command, and the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command to conduct a tier 1 exercise that will improve DOD's planning efforts to support civil authorities in a cyber incident. Such an exercise should also address challenges from prior exercises, such as limited participant access to exercise environment, inclusion of other federal agencies and private-sector cybersecurity vendors, and incorporation of emergency or disaster scenarios concurrent to cyber incidents.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Mark Goldstein
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the ECPC's efforts, the Secretary of Homeland Security, as the administrative leader of the ECPC, should clearly document the ECPC's strategic goals.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the ECPC's efforts, the Secretary of Homeland Security, as the administrative leader of the ECPC, should establish a mechanism to track progress by the ECPC's member agencies in implementing the ECPC's recommendations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the effectiveness, transparency, and accountability of the ECPC's efforts, the Secretary of Homeland Security, as the administrative leader of the ECPC, should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the ECPC's member agencies.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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: Joseph W. Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help improve DOD's planning and processes for supporting civil authorities in a cyber incident, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy in coordination with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to issue or update guidance that clarifies roles and responsibilities for relevant entities and officials--including the DOD components, supported and supporting commands, and dual-status commander--to support civil authorities as needed in a cyber incident.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The Department of Defense concurred with the recommendation and indicated that, in response, it would update existing agency guidance (e.g., doctrine, directives, instructions) or develop new guidance as appropriate. As of October 2016, DOD has not provided additional information concerning the status of 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: J. Alfredo Gómez
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to develop and periodically update a set of authoritative climate change observations and projections for use in federal decision making, which state, local, and private sector decision makers could also access to obtain the best available climate information.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help federal, state, local, and private sector decision makers access and use the best available climate information, the Executive Office of the President should designate a federal entity to create a national climate information system with defined roles for federal agencies and nonfederal entities with existing statutory authority.

    Agency: Executive Office of the President
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of 6/7/17, the Executive Office of the President has yet to take action in response to this recommendation.
    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: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase states' abilities to improve disaster resilience and mitigate future damage when using federal funding in the wake of disasters, the FEMA Administrator should, consistent with the goals of the NDRF to integrate hazard mitigation and risk reduction opportunities into all major decisions and reinvestments during the recovery process, assess the challenges state and local officials reported, including the extent to which the challenges can be addressed and implement corrective actions, as needed.

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

    Comments: In April 2017, FEMA officials provided a corrective action plan that included interim actions and milestones leading to the establishment of procedures and training to assist in implementing policy changes through the end of calendar year 2016. In September 2016, FEMA issued new policies to establish minimum standards for Public Assistance projects that are intended to promote resilience and achieve risk reduction. The April 2017 update indicates that FEMA plans to complete actions to implement this recommendation by May 2017. GAO will assess the actions taken when they are complete.
    Recommendation: To help the federal, state, and local governments plan for and invest in hazard mitigation opportunities to enhance resilience against future disasters, the Director of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group, in coordination with other departments and agencies that are MitFLG members, should supplement the National Mitigation Framework by establishing an investment strategy to identify, prioritize, and guide federal investments in disaster resilience and hazard mitigation-related activities and make recommendations to the President and Congress on how the nation should prioritize future disaster resilience investments. Such a strategy could address, among other things, (1) the extent to which current hazard mitigation and disaster resilience programs are adequately addressing critical lifelines and critical infrastructure, (2) an approach to identifying information on what disaster resilience and hazard mitigation efforts are most effective against known risks and their potential impacts on the nation's fiscal exposure, (3) the balance of federal and nonfederal investments, and (4) the balance of pre- and postdisaster resilience investments.

    Agency: Mitigation Framework Leadership Group
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In March 2016, officials from FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration told us they are working with the Office of Management and Budget to implement this recommendation and shared a high-level work plan designed to guide MitFLG through the creation of a disaster resilience investment strategy. According to this plan, the strategy is to be complete in October 2017.
    Director: Chris P. Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the Secretary of Homeland Security's ability to assess national preparedness and provide management oversight of federal interagency efforts to close previously identified capability gaps, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Administrator of FEMA--in coordination and collaboration with the National Security Council Staff and other federal departments and agencies--to collect information on and regularly report to the Secretary the status of federal interagency implementation of corrective actions identified (1) through prior national-level exercises and (2) following real-world incidents, specifically major disasters.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, FEMA officials reported that the agency had developed an approach for collecting and reporting on the status of federal interagency corrective actions from Level I disasters to add to the current practice of reporting on national level exercises. According to officials, the proposed approach was under review and the agency plans to coordinate with the other federal departments and agencies before submitting their proposal to DHS for final approval. In August 2017, FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate reported an expected completion date of December 29, 2017. Pending completion of this effort, this recommendation remains open.
    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: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better inform efforts for nuclear power plant emergency preparedness and planning, NRC Commissioners should obtain information on public awareness of radiological emergency preparedness for communities outside the 10-mile emergency planning zone and the likely response of those communities in the event of a radiological incident at a nuclear facility and consider how these results may affect estimates for shadow evacuations outside the zone.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    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.