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FEMA Prematurely Obligated $478 Million in Public Assistance Funds from FY 2017 through FY 2019

Executive Summary

FEMA did not use its SFM initiative to ensure that Public Assistance (PA) funds were obligated in accordance with Federal, Department, and component requirements.  Specifically, FEMA obligated PA funds for 83 projects from fiscal years 2017 through 2019 that we reviewed, even though the subrecipients did not need the funding until after 180 days, which made them eligible for incremental obligation under SFM.  This occurred because FEMA did not provide adequate oversight to its Regions.  FEMA relied on the Regions’ decisions to determine whether subrecipients’ projects were eligible for SFM funding, without ensuring there was sufficient supporting documentation to validate the determinations.  This increases the risk of projects being over obligated.  As a result, FEMA is not meeting the intent of SFM, which is to better manage resources in the Disaster Relief Fund to fulfill present and future disaster funding requirements.  We made two recommendations that, when implemented, should improve FEMA’s management and oversight of the Disaster Relief Fund.  FEMA concurred with the recommendations. 

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