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Monday, July 22, 2024

OIG Finds Data Limitations in FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program

An audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) data system does not capture Individuals and Households Program (IHP) assistance data in a manner that allows the watchdog to accurately calculate a percentage of distributions made in error in any 12-month period. 

Under IHP, FEMA provides financial assistance and, if necessary, direct services to individuals and households who are uninsured or underinsured and have necessary expenses and serious needs following a major disaster. FEMA is required to recoup disaster assistance funds when it duplicates financial assistance from another source or when funding is provided in error, spent inappropriately, or obtained through fraudulent means.

The Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA) authorizes FEMA to waive a debt owed to the Government if covered assistance provided to an individual or household on or after October 28, 2012, was distributed in error by FEMA.

In addition to challenges with the manner of data capture, OIG also noted that the amount of data required to conduct the audit represents millions of rows of data, as well as underlying supporting documents. These efforts require considerable resources for FEMA to provide, and the Office of Inspector General to review, the IHP information. 

Facing these limitations, OIG adopted an alternate approach to estimate FEMA’s percentage of distributions made in error. Specifically, it analyzed FEMA’s IHP Recoupment Processing Executive Summary for fiscal years 2015 through 2019 and concluded that, for these fiscal years, FEMA’s percentage of distributions identified for recoupment was, on average, less than 1 percent — well below the Disaster Recovery Reform Act’s (DRRA) four percent threshold. The DRRA authorizes FEMA to waive certain debts resulting from covered assistance provided to individuals and households on or after October 28, 2012, when, among other conditions, the assistance was distributed in error by FEMA.

FEMA concurred with OIG’s assessment of the distribution of IHP assistance and the finding that FEMA’s percent of distributions identified for recoupment were, on average, less than one percent.

Read the full report at OIG

Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
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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