Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: Floods

    11 publications with a total of 16 open recommendations including 2 priority 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: 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: 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: Brian J. Lepore
    Phone: (202) 512-4523

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to facilitate the efforts of installation planners to efficiently implement the requirements of the Unified Facilities Criteria and DOD Instruction 4715.03, the Secretary of Defense--in conjunction with the Secretaries of the military departments--should provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans. At a minimum, further direction could include definitions of key terms, such as the definition of "climate change" recently included in DOD Manual 4715.03; further information about changes in applicable building codes and design standards that account for potential climate change impacts; and further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, DOD has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. For example, the Department issued DOD Directive 4715.21 (January 14, 2016), in which DOD defines climate change. Also, the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program produced the report entitled Regional Sea Level Scenarios for Coastal Risk Management (April, 2016) and accompanying database, in which DOD provides regionalized sea level and extreme water level scenarios for three future time horizons (2035, 2065, and 2100) for 1,774 DOD sites worldwide. DOD intends the report and database to be used by planners to adapt to sea level rise, one impact of climate change. However, during July 2017 follow-up work, we learned that the department has not yet provided these planners with projections for the full set of expected impacts of weather effects associated with climate change.
    Recommendation: In order to improve the military services' ability to make facility investment decisions in accordance with DOD's strategic direction to include climate change adaptation considerations and additionally, to demonstrate an emphasis on proposing projects with an adaption component to installation planners, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the military departments to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with our recommendation to clarify instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding so that, at a minimum, climate change adaptation is considered as a project component that may be needed to address potential climate change impacts on infrastructure. DOD stated that climate change may be one of many factors that can affect facilities and impact mission and readiness, and that the department will review processes and criteria, such as the Unified Facilities Criteria, to strengthen consideration of climate change adaptation. DOD concurred with our recommendation to provide further direction and information that clarifies the planning actions that should be taken to account for climate change in installation Master Plans and Integrated Natural Resource Management Plans, including providing further information about potential projected impacts of climate change for individual installations. Although DOD has not fully implemented this recommendation, during September 2016 follow-up work, we learned that the Army has started to take actions to address components of the recommendation. Specifically, in briefing slides presented to congressional staff in 2016, the Army noted that two military construction projects were sited in a manner specifically designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change. These projects were a powertrain facility at Corpus Christi Army Depot and a waste water treatment plant at West Point. However, as of July 2017, DOD had not provided us with evidence that the department's components have clarified instructions associated with the processes used to compare potential military construction projects for approval and funding.
    Director: Fennell, Anne-marie Lasowski
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve communication between the Corps and nonfederal sponsors of flood control projects, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Chief of Engineers and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers take steps to ensure that flood control project delivery teams comply with agency guidance to develop communications plans for flood control projects.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, GAO is awaiting action by the agency to implement this recommendation.
    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: 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.