FEMA External Support Branch Director Linwood Gantt Jr., left, Robert Bondoni (APO) and Deborah Gordon (Ordering Unit) at Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Irma. (K.C. Wilsey/FEMA)

OIG: FEMA Could Improve Documentation and Cost Estimates on Alternative Procedures Pilot Program

The OIG made two recommendations to FEMA to improve documentation and cost estimates on its Public Assistance Program’s alternative procedures pilot program.

As part of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (SRIA), Congress tasked the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General with preparing a report assessing the effectiveness of the program.

Congress enacted SRIA due to general concerns that recovery from Hurricane Sandy would suffer inhibiting delays and bureaucratic burdens. In July 2017, FEMA reported that it awarded 252 projects under the PA alternative procedures pilot program valued at $11.9 billion, with just 26 of those projects (10.32 percent) completed. As so few projects have closed, the OIG cannot assess the program’s successes, failures, strengths, or weaknesses at this time.

The office reviewed three obligated projects, valued at $1.3 billion, to determine whether FEMA followed its guidance for validating subrecipients’ estimates. FEMA’s guidance outlines the process used to review and validate cost estimates submitted by subrecipients to FEMA for permanent work under the pilot program. In the course of testing, OIG found FEMA did not sufficiently document its actions to validate subrecipient estimates to ensure the costs were reasonable.

The report makes two recommendations, which are that the FEMA assistant administrator for recovery ensure FEMA documents properly the actions it takes to validate subrecipient estimates for alternative procedures program projects, and ensures appropriate controls are in place to obtain completeness and reasonableness of cost estimates for future implementation of the alternative procedures program.

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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