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FEMA Needs to Ensure the Cost Effectiveness of $945,640 that Los Angeles County, California Spent for Hazard Mitigation Under the Public Assistance Program

Executive Summary

We reviewed $1,726,151 of costs the County claimed for one large project (Project 3095). This amount was $945,640 more than the $780,511 that FEMA initially authorized and obligated for the project. The County improperly claimed $945,640 more than the $780,511 that FEMA Region IX initially authorized to construct a wall to stabilize a damaged section of road. The County incurred the additional costs because, rather than adhere to the scope of work that FEMA authorized, it built a superior wall to lessen the susceptibility of damage that anticipated wildfires might cause in that location. FEMA Headquarters ultimately approved this funding and awarded the County both the initial $780,511 and an additional$945,640 for the already-completed project. However, FEMA Headquarters did not provide a reasonable justification for its decision and did not perform a benefit/cost analysis as required to fund mitigation measures. As a result, FEMA and taxpayers had no assurance that the mitigations work was cost effective, as Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines require.

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