Review of FEMA Role in Assisting State and Local Governments To Develop Hurricane Preparedness Planning

RCED-83-182: Published: Jul 7, 1983. Publicly Released: Jul 7, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the principal federal programs relating to hurricane preparedness planning and the preparedness activities of a number of state and local governments.

GAO found that, although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for administering federal emergency management programs, FEMA involvement in hurricane preparedness assistance has been minimal. FEMA awarded study grants to states with only limited coordination with other federal agencies involved in providing funds and technical assistance. Further, FEMA was funding preparedness studies with little or no assurance that these studies were feasible or could lead to workable preparedness plans. GAO noted that, only recently has FEMA become aware of these problems, and it has met with state and local officials to better coordinate ongoing studies. GAO concluded that, although FEMA has taken positive steps to improve program direction, the agency needs to take additional steps to better ensure that such results are achieved.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA officials had the recommended reviews made for six applications for hurricane preparedess planning grants. FEMA also incorporated Corps and NOAA reviews of applications into its regular review procedures.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should have the proposals reviewed by the Corps of Engineers and relevant National Oceanic and Atmopheric Administration (NOAA) agencies.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA incorporated this recommendation into guidance on what reviewers should consider.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should carefully review state proposals to see that: (1) the proposals are technically feasible; (2) the proposed studies will be conducted by technically competent planners; (3) funding is generally available to complete the proposals; and (4) officials having ultimate responsibility for implementing emergency operating procedures during a hurricane are involved in the planning process.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA initiated the recommended review through its Interagency Hurricane Working Group. Based on the consensus of that group, FEMA issued guidance on the development of workable preparedness plans, in the form of Hurricane Study Guidelines and the Hurricane Preparedness Manual to assist state and local officials.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, to better ensure that the FEMA Hurricane Preparedness Program provides more effective assistance to state and local governments, should formally review current hurricane planning efforts to determine the best methods for developing and implementing a workable preparedness plan.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency


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