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Highlights

GAO reviewed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) administration of funds for public disaster assistance. The review was made to determine whether FEMA, which provided over $700 million in disaster assistance from 1979 through 1981, was consistently and effectively providing such assistance to state and local governments.

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Recommendations

Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Congress should amend the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 to require that, as a condition of receiving federal public disaster assistance, state and local governments obtain and maintain appropriate hazard and flood insurance as is reasonably available, adequate, and necessary to protect against the loss of public buildings, facilities, and equipment.
Closed - Not Implemented
No further action is intended by the responsible committees on the proposed amendments to the Disaster Relief Act.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Federal Emergency Management Agency 1. The Director, FEMA, should not reimburse state and local governments for regular employees and owned-equipment costs that are properly state and local obligations. These costs should instead be considered as part of the state and local cost-sharing commitment.
Closed - Not Implemented
Other action taken by FEMA precludes the need to adopt this recommendation.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 2. The Director, FEMA, should establish a task force with representatives from FEMA national and regional offices to minimize the problems associated with estimating eligible project costs. The task force should consult with state and local governments and interested outside organizations.
Closed - Implemented
FEMA established a task force, which included state and local officials, to review issues on establishing eligible project costs. When its mission was completed, FEMA disbanded the task force.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 3. The Director, FEMA, should revise FEMA rules and regulations to implement the task force's suggestions for simplifying the estimating of eligible project costs.
Closed - Implemented
FEMA published proposed regulations, which included changes to disaster assistance cost eligibility, and a new cost sharing formula in April 1986. The proposed regulations were withdrawn due to congressional opposition. FEMA plans no further action without congressional direction.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 4. The Director, FEMA, should develop an education and training program that will better prepare all participants associated with disaster response and recovery activities.
Closed - Implemented
FEMA adopted an on-the-job program to identify, train, and orient disaster assistant employees and the inspectors who prepare damage survey reports.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 5. The Director, FEMA, should seek passage of the legislative proposal that FEMA submitted to Congress, which would simplify its funding of projects up to $25,000. If successful, FEMA should consider seeking authorization to increase the project funding ceiling.
Closed - Not Implemented
No further action is intended by the responsible committees on the proposed amendments to the Disaster Relief Act.
Federal Emergency Management Agency 6. The Director, FEMA, should make the results of FEMA cost-effectiveness analyses available to Congress and state and local government legislative bodies for their deliberation. These analyses should contain FEMA recommendations for funding hazard mitigation projects.
Closed - Not Implemented
This recommendation was addressed in the proposed amendments to the Disaster Relief Act. FEMA was awaiting action on that proposed legislation, but no further action on the proposed amendments is intended by the responsible committees.

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