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Disaster Recovery

  • Early Warning Audit of FEMA Public Assistance Grants to Polk County School Board, Florida

    Executive Summary

    We contracted this audit with Cotton & Company LLP, which found that FEMA did not ensure the Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) monitored the Polk County School Board (PCSB) to ensure it established and implemented policies, procedures, and practices to account for and expend PA grant funding in accordance with Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.  For example, PCSB was unable to support $46,168 in food spoilage costs; requested and received funding through a Florida Public Assistance grant for ineligible contract costs incurred under Project 2658 for debris removal and related costs; and charged $897 in unallowable costs associated with ineligible fringe benefits for substitute employees.  We made 13 recommendations that, when implemented, should improve PCSB’s management of FEMA Public Assistance funds.  FEMA concurred with our 13 recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-50
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Inadequate Management and Oversight Jeopardized $187.3 Million in FEMA Grant Funds Expended by Joplin Schools, Missouri

    Executive Summary

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Missouri, and Joplin Schools did not properly manage and oversee this disaster award.  Specifically, FEMA and Missouri did not provide proper grant management and oversight of Joplin’s subgrant activities.  Joplin Schools disregarded Missouri’s authority as the grantee and did not always comply with Federal requirements and FEMA policies as required.  This occurred because Joplin Schools heavily relied on the advice of its grant management contractor.  As a result of the grant management and oversight issues, Joplin Schools did not follow Federal procurement standards when it awarded $187.3 million in non-exigent disaster-related contracts, including $609,676 in ineligible contractor direct administrative costs.  We provided five recommendations to help improve FEMA and Missouri’s grant oversight and management process.  We also included four recommendations for FEMA to disallow or not fund $187.3 million in ineligible contract costs.  FEMA determined approximately $56 million, the net obligated amount, was eligible for reimbursement.  FEMA concurred with all nine recommendations and completed actions to close recommendations 1 to 4 and 8.  Recommendations 5 to 7 are resolved and open with a target completion date of June 1, 2020. Recommendation 9 is considered unresolved and open

    Report Number
    OIG-20-41
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • FEMA Needs to Effectively Designate Volunteers and Manage the Surge Capacity Force

    Executive Summary

    FEMA is not effectively designating Surge Capacity Force (SCF) volunteers and managing the SCF program during disaster operations.  In 2017, FEMA was not prepared to deploy SCF Tier 4 volunteers rapidly and efficiently because FEMA had neither a clear commitment from agencies outside DHS to participate in SCF, nor a roster of volunteers capable of rapidly deploying.  FEMA did not adequately measure SCF performance because it did not have mechanisms to collect data and feedback to gauge program success.  FEMA did not effectively manage the SCF financial program because it relied heavily on the financial controls of volunteers’ home agencies without guarding against breakdowns in those controls.  Finally, FEMA did not close mission assignments promptly because it did not make closing them a priority in what officials described as a series of “overwhelming” catastrophes.  We made four recommendations for FEMA to improve designation of SCF volunteers and management of the SCF program.  FEMA concurred with three of our four recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-32
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Capacity Audit of FEMA Grant Funds Awarded to the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education

    Executive Summary

    KPMG, LLP found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not always ensure Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) and the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) established and implemented policies, procedures, and practices to account for and expend Public Assistance (PA) grant funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.  For example, VIDE did not have policies and procedures to address procurement-related conflicts of interest and related disciplinary actions.  This occurred because FEMA did not adequately train VIDE personnel and did not review these policies and procedures.  We made five recommendations that, when implemented, should improve management of FEMA PA grant funds, ensuring the funds are expended according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.  FEMA concurred with the recommendations. 

    Report Number
    OIG-20-30
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Capacity Audit of FEMA Grant Funds Awarded to the U.S. Virgin Islands Housing and Finance Authority

    Executive Summary

    KPMG, LLC found the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not provide adequate guidance to the Virgin Islands Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) and the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Agency (VIHFA) and that VITEMA and VIHFA did not adequately manage FEMA Public Assistance (PA) funds.  Also, VITEMA and VIHFA did not always ensure the accuracy of project funding information or promptly notify FEMA about significant project cost overruns.  This occurred because FEMA did not provide the necessary guidance to and oversight of VITEMA and VIHFA to properly manage PA funds.  Because of these deficiencies, PA programs are at increased risk of mismanagement and expenditure of funds for unallowable activities.  We made seven recommendations to improve VITEMA’s and VIHFA’s management of FEMA PA funds, ensuring they are expended according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.  FEMA concurred with the recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-29
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Harris County, Texas, Needs Continued Assistance and Monitoring to Ensure Proper Management of Its FEMA Grant

    Executive Summary

    Harris County, Texas needs additional technical assistance and monitoring to ensure grants management comply with Federal procurement regulations.  The County’s procurement policies, procedures, and business practices were not adequate to expend disaster grant funds in accordance with Federal procurement regulations and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines.  We recommended FEMA disallow $2.7 million in ineligible costs and require Texas to work with the County to incorporate Federal procurement regulations when using Federal funds, and review procurement activities before the County awards future contracts.  We made three recommendations that will help improve the procurement capability of Harris County, Texas.  FEMA concurred with all three recommendations. 

    Report Number
    OIG-20-27
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Capacity Audit of FEMA Grant Funds Awarded to the Puerto Rico Department of Transportation and Public Works

    Executive Summary

    Williams-Adley determined that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not always ensure that Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTOP) established and implemented policies, procedures, and practices to account for and expend PA grant funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.  Specifically, DTOP did not have (1) an effective grants management process; (2) sufficient internal controls in the procurement process; and (3) sufficient controls over its processes for claiming Force Account Labor costs.  This occurred because FEMA and Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) did not adequately oversee DTOP’s grant management activities.  We made three recommendations to improve COR3’s and DTOP’s management of FEMA Public Assistance funds, ensuring they are expended according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.  FEMA concurred with the recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-25
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • Capacity Audit of FEMA Grant Funds Awarded to The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority

    Executive Summary

    Williams-Adley determined that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not ensure the Puerto Rico Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resiliency (COR3) and the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) establish and implement policies, procedures, and practices to account for and expend Public Assistance (PA) grant funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.  Specifically, PRASA did not follow established policies and procedures for: (1) recording the capacity size and rate of its force account equipment; and (2) ensuring each vendor had a certificate of eligibility before receiving a contract award.  We made two recommendations to improve PRASA’s management of FEMA PA funds, ensuring they are expended according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidance.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-24
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
  • FEMA Has Made More than $3 Billion in Improper and Potentially Fraudulent Payments for Home Repair Assistance since 2003

    Executive Summary

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Individuals and Households Program (IHP) has a robust process for collecting and verifying information provided by underinsured disaster applicants.  However, FEMA does not collect sufficient supporting documentation or verify applicants claiming to have no insurance are eligible for home repair assistance.  Rather, according to FEMA, it relies on applicant self-certifications because no comprehensive repository of homeowner’s insurance data exists, and any additional verification processes would delay home repair payments.  As a result, FEMA made and we are questioning, more than $3 billion in improper and potentially fraudulent payments to individuals since 2003.  Additionally, FEMA did not properly assess and report improper payment risks within IHP because it disregarded significant internal control deficiencies and prior audit findings when it evaluated program risks.  Therefore, IHP applicants who claimed no homeowner’s insurance received less oversight even though they posed the greatest risk for improper and fraudulent payments.  Without implementing changes to its home repair assistance processes, FEMA cannot ensure it is being a prudent steward of Federal resources and adequately assessing its risks of improper payments and fraud.  We made two recommendations to FEMA to improve its IHP home repair documentation, verification, and risk management processes.  FEMA non-concurred with the two report recommendations, resulting in both recommendations being unresolved and open.

    Report Number
    OIG-20-23
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2020
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