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Highlights

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has been on GAO's high-risk list since 2006, when the program had to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to cover losses from the 2005 hurricanes. The outstanding debt is $17.8 billion as of June 2011. This sizeable debt, plus operational and management challenges that GAO has identified at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers NFIP, have combined to keep the program on the high-risk list. NFIP's need to borrow to cover claims in years of catastrophic flooding has raised concerns about the program's long-term financial solvency. This testimony (1) discusses ways to place NFIP on a sounder financial footing in light of public policy goals for federal involvement in natural catastrophe insurance and (2) highlights operational and management challenges at FEMA that affect the program. In preparing this statement, GAO relied on its past work on NFIP, including a June 2011 report on FEMA's management of NFIP, which focused on its planning, policies, processes, and systems. The management review included areas such as strategic and human capital planning, acquisition management, and intra-agency collaboration.

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