The Emergency Management Assistance Program Should Contribute More Directly to National Civil Defense Objectives

GGD-83-5: Published: Nov 5, 1982. Publicly Released: Nov 10, 1982.

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Roger L. Sperry
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Emergency Management Assistance (EMA) Program and the policies which govern distributions of EMA grant funds by States to local jurisdictions.

GAO found that EMA funds often bypass local areas critical to the national civil defense effort and may not be used to support national civil defense objectives by local jurisdictions receiving the funds. FEMA has issued criteria for the substate distribution of funds, but these regulations are vague and in some cases conflicting. FEMA has not held local EMA grantees accountable for achieving FEMA goals or levels of preparedness because existing Federal criteria have not been applied by FEMA and the States.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

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

    Recommendation: The Director of FEMA should require each State as a part of its EMA Annual Submission to: (1) identify those local jurisdictions in critical civil defense areas that do not participate in the EMA Program; and (2) address specifically how the State plans to attain participation of these local governments through such means as varying the EMA matching requirement within the State, adopting State distribution formulas as tools to encourage desired participation patterns, and/or giving priority funding consideration to jurisdictions in critical civil defense areas. The Director of FEMA should review each State's Annual Submission to ensure that efforts are being made to fund local jurisdictions critical to the national civil defense effort.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA claims that it has been responsive by setting national objectives for States to achieve with emergency management funds in their fiscal year 1984 plans. Yet, the objectives are too general to ensure that States will use these funds and require local recipients to use them to support specific national FEMA programmatic initiatives.

    Recommendation: The Director of FEMA should specify national objectives or standards for States to require local applicants to address in their annual funding proposals, depending on the unique needs and capacities of each local jurisdiction. The Director of FEMA should also require States to use these national objectives or standards in their oversight and evaluation of local performance and consider local performance as a factor in their annual funding decisions.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency


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