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Disaster Recovery

  • Louisiana Did Not Properly Oversee a $706.6 Million Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Award for Work on Louisiana Homes

    Executive Summary

    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not properly oversee the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (Louisiana or State) to ensure it complied with Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines.  Louisiana and the Office of Community Development (OCD), in turn, did not always properly account for and expend Federal grant funds.  Specifically, Louisiana did not provide adequate documentation to support costs, as required by Federal regulations, and FEMA is not requiring the State to provide mandatory documentation to close out the $706.6 million Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) grant.  Louisiana also has not provided FEMA with required documentation showing that homeowners paid $79.7 million in promissory notes for state-funded mitigation work on their homes.  Finally, Louisiana drew down funds exceeding project obligations by $50.4 million due to a lack of FEMA controls.  These issues arose primarily because FEMA did not ensure Louisiana exercised proper oversight of the HMGP grant and the State did not comply with Federal regulations.  As a result, Federal funds are at risk of fraud, waste, and abuse.  We provided five recommendations to FEMA to postpone project closeout until Louisiana provides adequate documentation that supports $706.6 million in costs and that FEMA ensures compliance with Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines.  FEMA’s responses were sufficient to close all but one recommendation, which we consider open and unresolved.  

    Report Number
    OIG-19-54
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2019
  • 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
  • Special Report: Lessons Learned from Prior DHS-OIG Reports Related to FEMA's Response to Texas Disasters and Texas' Management of FEMA Grant Funds

    Executive Summary

    FEMA is currently responding to Hurricane Harvey in Texas, one of the largest disasters in U.S. history, with current damage estimates reported to exceed $100 billion. Due to the massive scale of damage, FEMA and Texas, as a FEMA grantee, will face many challenges in the recovery phase of the disaster. As FEMA moves into the recovery phase for Hurricane Harvey, it will begin to obligate hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars from the Disaster Relief Fund for administrative costs and for Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation grants to eligible state, tribal, and local governments and certain nonprofit organizations. Texas, as FEMA’s grantee, will be responsible for oversight and monitoring of the disaster grants to Texas subrecipients.

    Report Number
    OIG-18-21
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2018
  • Summary and Key Findings of Fiscal Year 2016 FEMA Disaster Grant and Program Audits

    Executive Summary

    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 persistent problems such as improper contract costs, and ineligible and unsupported expenditures as examples of this continued failure. Over the 7-year period, FYs 2009 to 2015, we found $1.64 billion, or 15 percent, in questioned costs out of the $10.9 billion that we audited, which we recommended FEMA disallow as ineligible and unsupported costs. In FY 2016, we found $155.6 million2, or 23 percent, in questioned costs out of the $686 million that we audited, confirming that FEMA is not making progress managing disaster relief funds adequately. We continue to identify persistent problems throughout FEMA’s grant process, we are concerned that billions of tax payer dollars remain at risk.
     

    Report Number
    OIG-18-06
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2018
  • FEMA Should Disallow $2.04 Billion Approved for New Orleans Infrastructure Repairs

    Executive Summary

    We determined that FEMA did not have sufficient evidence to support its decision that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita directly caused damages to the roads and water distribution system.  The demonstration of direct cause is necessary for work to be considered eligible for Federal disaster assistance funding, as required by the Stafford Act and FEMA’s own policies.  As a result, FEMA should not have awarded the initial $785 million, or the additional $1.25 billion to complete the repairs.  We recommended that FEMA disallow $2.04 billion in questioned costs —the initial award of $785 million, plus the additional $1.25 billion award.  We made two recommendations and FEMA non-concurred with both of our recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-17-97-D
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2017
  • Williamsburg Regional Hospital, South Carolina, Generally Accounted for and Expended FEMA Grant Funds Awarded for Emergency Work Properly

    Executive Summary

    We determined that The Hospital accounted for FEMA funds on a project-by-project basis as Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines require.  However, as of February 2017, the Hospital had not arranged for an audit of its Federal award, which it must complete and submit to the Federal Audit Clearinghouse by June 30, 2017.  We recommended that the Regional Administrator, FEMA Region IV, direct the South Carolina Emergency Division to actively monitor the Hospital’s compliance with the annual audit requirements.  If the Hospital does not meets it audit requirement by the June 30, 2017, due date, FEMA should direct South Carolina to impose appropriate additional award conditions to ensure the integrity of the FEMA award.

    Report Number
    OIG-17-95-D
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2017
  • FEMA Should Recover $3.9 Million of $13.2 in Grant Funds Awarded to the Borough of Lavallette, New Jersey

    Executive Summary

    We determined the Borough of Lavallette did not always account for and expend FEMA grant funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines.  Therefore, FEMA should disallow $3.9 million of $13.2 million in grant funds awarded to the Borough.  We made six recommendations to the Regional Administrator, FEMA Region II, to disallow duplicate costs, ineligible labor, contract and excessive equipment costs, unsupported equipment costs, unapplied credits, unneeded funds to put to better use and improve the State’s grant management activities.

    Report Number
    OIG-17-93-D
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2017
  • Linn County Road Department, Oregon, Has Sufficient Policies, Procedures, and Business Practices

    Executive Summary

    We conducted this audit early in the Public Assistance process to identify areas where the Department may need additional technical assistance, or monitoring to ensure compliance, before improperly expending any of the Federal grant funds.  We determined if the Department conforms to its policies, procedures, and business practices, FEMA has reasonable assurance, but not absolute, that the Department will properly manage the Public Assistance grant funds it receives. During our audit, we determined the Department did not always use the lowest of FEMA and local rates for equipment costs.  Department officials agreed with this finding and took immediate corrective action by notifying Oregon that they would revise and resubmit payment reimbursement claims with correct equipment rate costs.  The Department has revised its procurement procedures for small contracts to include affirmative steps and assure the use of DBEs when possible, as 2 CFR 200.321 requires.  We are not requiring any further action from FEMA, therefore we consider this audit closed. 

    Report Number
    OIG-17-79-D
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2017
  • FEMA Should Recover $1.5 Million in Grant Funds Awarded to Hays County, Texas

    Executive Summary

    We determined that The County did not comply with Federal procurement standards in expending FEMA Public Assistance grant funds.  Specifically, the County used a shared services agreement with the Houston-Galveston Area Council (HGAC) to procure two contracts totaling $1.5 million.  The HGAC’s procurement practices unreasonably restricted competition by not allowing smaller contractors to compete for the work, and HGAC did not take the specific steps that Federal regulations require to provide opportunities for disadvantaged firms to bid on federally funded work when possible.  We recommended FEMA disallow those costs as ineligible and direct the state to better monitor the County’s grant subaward activities.

    Report Number
    OIG-17-77-D
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2017
  • Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Effectively Managed FEMA Grant Funds Awarded for Hurricane Sandy Damages

    Executive Summary

    We determined that for the projects we reviewed, the City effectively accounted for and expended FEMA Public Assistance grant funds according to Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines.  City officials accounted for disaster expenditures on a project-by-project basis, procured contracts for disaster work appropriately, and maintained adequate documentation to support the costs.  We made no recommendations.

    Report Number
    OIG-17-21-D
    Issue Date
    Document File
    DHS Agency
    Oversight Area
    Fiscal Year
    2017
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