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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- Executive SummaryReport NumberOIG-21-54Issue DateDocument FileDHS AgencyKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
FEMA did not ensure Louisiana adequately managed and provided oversight of PA grants to make certain they complied with Federal regulations. Specifically, Louisiana had a backlog of 600 incomplete projects beyond their approved completion dates. We attributed this to the State not conducting regular site visits to assess subrecipients’ ongoing projects, identify and resolve issues as they arose, or ensure prompt project completion. In addition, FEMA had a backlog of 2,150 completed grant projects it had not closed out due to inadequate oversight of its Region 6 staff to ensure they promptly carried out this responsibility. As of the fourth quarter of 2018, the combined backlog of 2,750 grant projects represented nearly $6.6 billion in obligated funds. By May 2020, FEMA had reduced the backlog, but the significant number of remaining projects could lead to delays reimbursing applicants as well as deobligating funds that could be put to better use. We made three recommendations to FEMA to strengthen its oversight of project completion and closeout processes to ensure they are timely and compliant. FEMA concurred with one recommendation and did not concur with two. However, FEMA’s responses resulted in all three recommendations being considered open and unresolved.Report NumberOIG-21-50Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
Specifically, in reviewing 16 contract files, we found files that did not have relevant Federal tax information, were missing information on the contractor’s past performance evaluations, and contained incomplete and inconsistent documentation. We attribute these deficiencies to FEMA not providing guidance on procedures for implementing Federal regulations to contracting personnel, and the Department of Homeland Security removing guidance from its acquisition manual that is used by component personnel. As a result of inadequate guidance, FEMA personnel awarded contracts without making fully informed determinations as to whether prospective contractors could meet contract demands. If contractors cannot meet demands, FEMA may have to cancel contracts it has awarded, which has happened in the past and continues. In fact, between March and May 2020, FEMA awarded and canceled at least 22 contracts, valued at $184 million, for crucial supplies in response to the national COVID-19 pandemic. By awarding contracts without ensuring prospective contractors can meet contract demands, FEMA will continue wasting taxpayer dollars and future critical disaster and pandemic assistance will continue to be delayed. We made one recommendation that, when implemented, should help strengthen FEMA’s responsibility determination process. The Department concurred with our recommendation.Report NumberOIG-21-44Issue DateDocument FileFiscal Year2021
FEMA Has Not Prioritized Compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, Hindering Its Ability to Reduce Repetitive Damages to Roads and BridgesExecutive Summary
FEMA has not prioritized compliance with the DMA 2000. According to FEMA officials, the agency has instead focused on immediate needs of disaster operations and other high- profile initiatives necessary to carry out its mission. As such, FEMA has not published regulations and related policies as required by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) to reduce repetitive damages to facilities, including the Nation’s roads and bridges. We made four recommendations to FEMA, including that FEMA should prioritize the DMA 2000 by addressing the unresolved implementation issues and publishing a regulation as required.Report NumberOIG-21-43Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
FEMA Initiated the Hurricane Harvey Direct Housing Assistance Agreement without Necessary Processes and ControlsExecutive Summary
FEMA’s Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) with the Texas General Land Office (TxGLO) was appropriate to ensure direct housing assistance program compliance with applicable laws and regulations. However, FEMA initiated the IGSA without first developing the processes and controls TxGLO needed to administer the program. As a result, FEMA and the State had to develop and finalize implementation guidelines after signing the IGSA, delaying TxGLO’s disaster response. In addition, FEMA disaster personnel had to prepare the necessary guidance, toolkits, and training resources while simultaneously responding to Hurricane Harvey. Also, FEMA used workarounds and TxGLO set up a separate system, creating additional operational challenges and inefficiencies. We made three recommendations to improve future state administered direct housing assistance efforts. FEMA concurred with all three recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-42Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
We determined that FEMA followed applicable laws, regulations, and guidance in its efforts to provide funding for reconstruction of the Vieques’ Community Health Center. FEMA’s assessment of the funding needs for the project is complete and $39,569,695 (Federal share) was obligated on January 21, 2020 for a full facility replacement. We did not make any recommendations but announced an audit to assess FEMA’s Public Assistance Program Alternative Procedures process for all permanent work projects.Report NumberOIG-21-41Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
Success of Future Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts Depends on FEMA Addressing Current VulnerabilitiesExecutive Summary
This report provides a summary of our previous findings and recommendations, which may inform future disaster response efforts. Based on our prior work, we identified a pattern of internal control vulnerabilities that negatively affect both disaster survivors and disaster program effectiveness that may hinder future response efforts, including shortcomings in acquisition and contracting controls, interagency coordination challenges, and insufficient privacy safeguards that affect disaster survivors. Additionally, FEMA did not adequately oversee disaster grant recipients and subrecipients, manage disaster assistance funds, or oversee its information technology environment. This report discusses these vulnerabilities and the correlating recommendations we previously made that, if implemented, would better prepare FEMA to respond to future disasters. We made no new recommendations.Report NumberOIG-21-25Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
Better Oversight and Planning are Needed to Improve FEMA's Transitional Sheltering Assistance ProgramExecutive Summary
During the course of the audit, we determined that FEMA provided hotel rooms to about 90,000 households (nearly 227,000 survivors) after the 2017 California wildfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. However, FEMA did not oversee and manage the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program to ensure it operated efficiently and effectively to meet all disaster survivors’ needs. We made two recommendations that when implemented, will improve FEMA’s oversight and pre-disaster planning of transitional sheltering. FEMA concurred with both recommendations and the recommendations are resolved and open.Report NumberOIG-21-20Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2021
- Executive Summary
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mismanaged the distribution of commodities in response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico. FEMA lost visibility of about 38 percent of its commodity shipments to Puerto Rico, worth an estimated $257 million. Commodities successfully delivered to Puerto Rico took an average of 69 days to reach their final destinations. Inadequate FEMA contractor oversight contributed to the lost visibility and delayed commodity shipments. FEMA did not use its Global Positioning System transponders to track commodity shipments, allowed the contractor to break inventory seals, and did not ensure documented proof of commodity deliveries. Given lost visibility and delayed shipments, FEMA cannot ensure it provided commodities to Puerto Rico disaster victims as needed to sustain life and alleviate suffering as part of its response and recovery mission. In addition, FEMA’s mismanagement of transportation contracts included multiple contracting violations and policy contraventions that ultimately led to contract overruns of about $179 million and at least $50 million of questioned costs. We made five recommendations that, if implemented, should improve FEMA’s management and oversight of its disaster response activities. FEMA concurred with four of the five recommendations. Recommendations 1 through 4 are considered open and resolved. Recommendation 5 is considered resolved and closedReport NumberOIG-20-76Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2020
FEMA Should Recover $216.2 Million Awarded to the Recovery School District in Louisiana for Hurricane KatrinaExecutive Summary
As of October 2016, the Recovery School District in Louisiana (RSD) had received a $1.5 billion Public Assistance grant from Louisiana, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grantee, for damages resulting from Hurricane Katrina. We examined $1.3 billion for a consolidated project as part of the total amount awarded. In some instances, RSD accounted for and expended portions of the $1.3 billion in Public Assistance grant funds we reviewed according to Federal regulations. However, FEMA improperly awarded $216.2 million to repair or replace more than 292 Orleans Parish school facilities in RSD. We made eight recommendations to FEMA to de-obligate $216.2 million of ineligible costs; follow Federal regulations and FEMA guidelines; and re-evaluate documented proof of assessments for the 35 identified projects and reclassify them, as appropriate, to repair-eligible, and de-obligate the cost difference. FEMA concurred with recommendations 2 through 7 but did not concur with recommendations 1 and 8. We consider recommendations 2 through 7 resolved and open; recommendations 1 and 8 are unresolved and open.Report NumberOIG-20-63Issue DateDocument FileKeywordsFiscal Year2020