Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Due to the federal government's role as guarantor, floods impose an enormous potential financial burden on the federal government. Consequently, decision makers at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Congress need accurate and timely financial information to assess the effectiveness of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This report assesses whether controls in place during the 2005 to 2007 time frame were effective and whether actions to improve controls are likely to address identified weaknesses. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed and analyzed FEMA/NFIP guidance, data, and financial reports, reviewed prior audit reports, interviewed FEMA officials and contractors, and selected a sample of claim losses paid to determine whether claim files contained key documents.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Homeland Security To improve the financial reporting process and strengthen internal controls, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Acting Assistant Administrator, FEMA Mitigation Directorate, to augment NFIP policies to require the BSA to develop procedures to analyze financial reports in relation to the transaction-level information that WYO companies submit for statistical purposes.
Closed - Not Implemented
FEMA officials do not plan to develop procedures to analyze WYO company financial reports in relation to transaction-level information submitted for statistical purposes.
Department of Homeland Security To improve the financial reporting process and strengthen internal controls, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Acting Assistant Administrator, FEMA Mitigation Directorate, to revise required internal control activities for the BSA to provide for verifying and validating the reliability of WYO-reported financial information based upon a review of a sample of the underlying transactions or events, or obtain verification that these objectives have been met through independent audits of the WYO companies.
Closed - Implemented
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has verified and validated the reliability of Write Your Own (WYO) reported financial information through independent audits of WYO companies. As of February 2013, FEMA records indicate that, over 90 percent of the WYO companies submitted the required biennial audit reports and the remaining companies had yet to submit the most recent year's audit report.
Department of Homeland Security To improve the financial reporting process and strengthen internal controls, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Acting Assistant Administrator, FEMA Mitigation Directorate, to determine the feasibility of integrating and streamlining numerous existing NFIP financial reporting processes to reduce the risk of errors inherent in the manual recording of accounting transactions into multiple systems.
Closed - Implemented
Based upon their feasibility study, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have entered into a contract to replace their existing National Flood Insurance Program financial system with a system that will automate their financial and reporting process. Although the new system has not yet been implemented, by conducting the feasibility study and entering into a contract to automate their financial and reporting processes, they have implemented the intent of this recommendation.
Department of Homeland Security To improve the financial reporting process and strengthen internal controls, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Acting Assistant Administrator, FEMA Mitigation Directorate, to establish and implement procedures to require reviewing available information such as the results of biennial audits, operational reviews, and claim reinspections to determine whether the targeted audits for cause managerial tool should be used.
Closed - Implemented
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established and implemented procedures that require the review of available information on Write Your Own companies. The National Flood Insurance Program Financial Control Plan identifies the required review procedures and available information such as biennial audits, and operation and underwriting reviews are tracked in a database. FEMA also documents in their database, the results of overall assessments of available information.
Department of Homeland Security To improve the financial reporting process and strengthen internal controls, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Acting Assistant Administrator, FEMA Mitigation Directorate, to establish and implement procedures to require maintaining and considering current information from an independent source regarding state audit results to gather pertinent information such as customer service issues and inform determinations about when to conduct audits for cause.
Closed - Implemented
According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials, state audits do not typically address the National Insurance Program. However, FEMA has taken other steps to gather and consider information from independent sources including the establishment of a new liaison with the State Insurance Commissioner, as well as attendance and panel participation at National Association of State Insurance Commissioner meetings. Information from meetings with State Insurance Commissioners and from attendance at National Association of Insurance Commissioner Meetings is documented and forwarded to Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration's Deputy Associate Administrator for review and inform determinations on audits for cause. These steps address the intent of our recommendation.
Department of Homeland Security To improve the financial reporting process and strengthen internal controls, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Acting Assistant Administrator, FEMA Mitigation Directorate, to establish and implement procedures to schedule and conduct all required operational reviews within the prescribed 3-year period.
Closed - Implemented
Federal Emergency Management Administration's (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program Financial Control Plan Monitoring tool identifies procedures FEMA has established to conduct claims operation reviews within the three year time period. Other documents FEMA provided indicate that over 90 percent of WYO companies had claims operation reviews performed in the last three years. FEMA provided reasonable explanations for not conducting operational reviews for the remaining companies.
Department of Homeland Security To improve the financial reporting process and strengthen internal controls, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Acting Assistant Administrator, FEMA Mitigation Directorate, to establish and implement procedures to select statistically representative samples of all claims as a basis for conducting reinspections of claims by general adjusters.
Closed - Implemented
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) has established and implemented procedures to statistically select claims for reinspection procedures. FIMA's claims reinspection procedures, dated June 11, 2012, include a statistical sampling of reported flood claims for a given Flood Insurance Claims Office (FICO) designated event. Specifically, FIMA's claims reinspection procedures include a process for the random selection of claims for large claim volume companies (400 or more claims for a FICO event) and a process for the random selection of claims from a pool of small claim companies.

Full Report