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Disaster Recovery

  • FEMA Should Recover $3,061,819 in Grant Funds Awarded to Jackson County, Florida

    Executive Summary

    The County received about $28.1 million in Public Assistance grant awards from Florida — a FEMA grantee — for damages from severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding in April and May 2014. Jackson County was the first subgrantee in Florida to be approved for a grant award obligation under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance Alternative Procedures (PAAP) pilot program. The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 20131 authorized PAAP and authorized FEMA to implement alternative procedures through the PAAP pilot program. Florida did not fulfill its grantee responsibility to ensure the County followed applicable Federal grant management requirements, and FEMA did not ensure the grantee carried out its responsibilities.

    Report Number
    OIG-19-12
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • FEMA Should Disallow $22.3 Million in Grant Funds Awarded to the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, Montana

    Executive Summary

    FEMA awarded the Chippewa Cree Tribe a $32.4 million Public Assistance Program grant for damages from a June 2010 flood disaster. The award provided 100 percent Federal funding to replace the Tribe’s severely damaged health clinic. The Tribe failed to manage a $32.4 million Public Assistance Program grant from FEMA according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines. As a result, FEMA has no assurance that expenditures the Tribe claimed for Project 2 (engineering and design), and plans to claim for Projects 132 (facility construction) and 133 (site preparation) are valid, allowable, or eligible. Therefore, FEMA should disallow about $22.3 million of the grant award for these three projects.

    Report Number
    OIG-19-06
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • FEMA's Oversight of the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS)

    Executive Summary

    Following the January 13, 2018, false missile alert in Hawaii, Congress requested we examine the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) role in the incident. We concluded that FEMA has limited responsibility for the sending and canceling of state and local alerts. Following the Hawaii false missile alert, three U.S. Senators proposed legislation to define the federal government’s role during false missile alerts, as well as to direct FEMA to recommend best practices in the alerting process. We also identified two areas of concern regarding FEMA’s overall oversight of IPAWS. Although FEMA maintains IPAWS as a messaging platform, state and local alerting authorities must obtain commercially-available emergency alert software to generate a message which passes through IPAWS for authentication and delivery. However, we found that FEMA does not require that this software perform functions critical to the alerting process, such as the ability to preview or cancel an alert. Instead, FEMA only recommends that software vendors include these capabilities as “best practices.”

    Report Number
    OIG-19-08
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • FEMA Should Disallow $9.1 Million in Public Assistance Grant Funds Awarded to Ascension Parish School Board, Louisiana

    Executive Summary

    We conducted this audit to determine whether the Board accounted for and expended FEMA grant funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines. The Board sustained an estimated $90.6 million in damages caused by severe storms and flooding that occurred in August 2016. The Ascension Parish School Board (Board) accounted for disaster-related costs correctly, as Federal regulations require. However, the Board did not follow all Federal procurement regulations in awarding $25.6 million in disaster-related contracts, resulting in $9.1 million in ineligible costs. Additionally, there were issues with direct administrative costs related to a Recovery Program and Grants Management services contract. This occurred because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not ensure the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (Louisiana) monitored the Board’s subgrant activities for compliance with Federal procurement requirements.

    Report Number
    OIG-19-05
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • Management Alert - Observations of FEMA's Debris Monitoring Efforts for Hurricane Irma

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its Public Assistance (PA) Program, is currently responding to Hurricane Irma — one of the most catastrophic disasters in recent United States history.  FEMA’s damage estimates for Florida and Georgia exceed $4.2 billion, with debris removal operations constituting approximately 36 percent of the total PA cost.  Debris removal costs in Florida and Georgia are estimated to reach approximately $1.5 billion as of May 2018.  FEMA’s guidance for debris monitoring lacks sufficient information to ensure adequate oversight.  In the 2011

  • Management Alert - Observations of FEMA's Debris Monitoring Efforts for Hurricane Irma

    Executive Summary

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its Public Assistance (PA) Program, is currently responding to Hurricane Irma — one of the most catastrophic disasters in recent United States history.  FEMA’s damage estimates for Florida and Georgia exceed $4.2 billion, with debris removal operations constituting approximately 36 percent of the total PA cost.  Debris removal costs in Florida and Georgia are estimated to reach approximately $1.5 billion as of May 2018.  FEMA’s guidance for debris monitoring lacks sufficient information to ensure adequate oversight.  In the 2011 OIG report, FEMA’s Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations, we identified deficiencies in FEMA’s debris removal guidance.  To resolve these deficiencies, we made 10 recommendations to, in part, strengthen FEMA’s debris removal guidance and procedure.  In response, FEMA released additional criteria pertaining to debris estimating and monitoring to enhance the overall effectiveness of the process.  FEMA removed the detailed responsibilities when it released its Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide (PAPPG).  Going forward from the PAPPG version 1.0, FEMA relies solely on the subrecipient to monitor the debris removal operations, and removes monitoring responsibilities from both FEMA and the State.  Subrecipients now have a greater responsibility to identify issues or concerns during debris removal operations.  We made three recommendations that when implemented will strengthen FEMA’s debris monitoring operations.  FEMA concurred with all recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-18-85
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2018
  • Summary and Key Findings of Fiscal Year 2017 FEMA Disaster Grant and Program Audits

    Executive Summary

    Collectively, our FY 2017 work shows that FEMA continues to face systemic problems and operational challenges, as the variety of findings summarized in this report illustrates In FY 2017, FEMA did not manage disaster relief grants and funds adequately and did not hold grant recipients accountable for properly managing disaster relief funds. We continue to identify problems such as improper contract costs, and ineligible and unsupported expenditures.

    In FY 2017, we identified $2.08 billion in questioned costs, which represents 96 percent of the $2.16 billion audited.2 We issued 37 reports concerning FEMA grants, programs, and operations funded by the DRF. Specifically, we conducted 16 grant audits, 13 proactive audits, and 8 program audits. In the last 9 fiscal years, we audited grant funds totaling $13.75 billion and reported potential monetary benefits of $6.55 billion.

    Report Number
    OIG-18-75
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2018
  • Special Report: Lessons Learned from Previous Audit Reports Related to California's Practice of Managing Public Assistance Grant Funds

    Executive Summary

    FEMA needs to continue providing technical assistance to and monitoring of California’s Public Assistance grant funding management.  This helps avoid the risk of exposing millions of taxpayer dollars to fraud, waste, or mismanagement and violating the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. In doing so, FEMA can assist California in providing reasonable, but not absolute assurance that Public Assistance subgrant funds are spent in accordance with Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines.

    Report Number
    OIG-18-74
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2018
  • FEMA Paid Employees Over the Annual Premium Pay Cap

    Executive Summary

    We found that FEMA overpaid its employees because it mistakenly believed the Department’s payroll provider had an automated control to prevent payments over the annual cap, and because it did not follow its own premium pay policy. We also found that FEMA has no effective policy or practice to determine the Fair Labor Standards Act status of FEMA employees during disaster deployments, which also contributed to this issue. Since discovering the overpayments, FEMA has been working to calculate how many people were overpaid, but it cannot finish that analysis until it addresses a number of outstanding questions.

    Report Number
    OIG-18-71
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2018
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