oversight

Emergency Management: FEMA's Disaster Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2019-07-11.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

                            United States Government Accountability Office
                            Testimony
                            Before the Subcommittee on
                            Emergency Preparedness, Response,
                            and Recovery, Committee on Homeland
                            Security, House of Representatives
                            EMERGENCY
For Release on Delivery
Expected at 10:00 a.m. ET
Thursday, July 11, 2019

                            MANAGEMENT
                            FEMA’s Disaster Recovery
                            Efforts in Puerto Rico and
                            the U.S. Virgin Islands
                            Statement of Chris Currie, Director,
                            Homeland Security and Justice




GAO-19-662T
                                                July 11, 2019

                                                EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
                                                FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico and
                                                the U.S. Virgin Islands
Highlights of GAO-19-662T, a testimony before
the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness,
Response, and Recovery, Committee on
Homeland Security, House of Representatives



Why GAO Did This Study                          What GAO Found
In September 2017, two major                    GAO’s prior and ongoing work found that the Federal Emergency Management
hurricanes—Irma and Maria—struck                Agency (FEMA) obligated about $7.4 billion in Public Assistance grant funding to
Puerto Rico and the USVI, causing               Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) as of April 2019, in response to
billions of dollars in damage to                the 2017 hurricanes. FEMA obligated about $6.2 billion in Public Assistance
infrastructure, housing, and the                grants for emergency work—debris removal activities, power restoration, and
economy. FEMA—a component of the                other emergency measures—and about $965 million in Public Assistance grants
Department of Homeland Security—is              for permanent work—including the repair or replacement of public infrastructure
the lead federal agency responsible for         such as roads, electrical utilities, and damaged buildings. Further, FEMA is
assisting Puerto Rico and the USVI to           continuing to work with Puerto Rico and the USVI to develop additional
recover from these natural disasters.           permanent work projects to repair damaged public infrastructure, such as
Among other responsibilities, FEMA is
                                                schools and hospitals (see figure).
administering the Public Assistance
program in partnership with the                 2017 Hurricane Damage to a School in Puerto Rico and a Hospital in the U.S. Virgin Islands
governments of Puerto Rico and the
USVI, providing them grant funding for
response and recovery activities,
including debris removal efforts, life-
saving emergency protective measures,
and the repair, replacement, or
restoration of public infrastructure.
This statement describes (1) the status
of FEMA’s Public Assistance grant
funding in Puerto Rico and the USVI in
response to the 2017 hurricanes as of
April 2019, (2) the establishment of
recovery offices in Puerto Rico and the
USVI, and (3) challenges in
implementing the Public Assistance
program and actions FEMA has taken to
address them. This statement is based           In 2017, Puerto Rico established the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction,
on GAO reports issued in February,              and Resilience and in 2019 the USVI established the Office of Disaster Recovery
March, and June 2019, and includes              to coordinate and oversee federal recovery efforts. Among other things, these
preliminary observations from ongoing           recovery offices are responsible for monitoring and overseeing the Public
GAO reviews of FEMA operations. For             Assistance program and developing internal controls to ensure it is implemented
ongoing work, GAO analyzed program              in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and FEMA requirements.
documents and data on obligations and
                                                GAO’s prior and ongoing work highlighted challenges with the Public Assistance
expenditures; interviewed agency
officials; and visited disaster-damaged
                                                program including concerns about the clarity of FEMA’s guidance, and the time
areas in Puerto Rico and the USVI,              and resources needed to transition to a new Public Assistance delivery model in
where GAO also interviewed FEMA and             Puerto Rico. Further, Puerto Rico and USVI officials reported difficulties
local officials.                                understanding FEMA’s implementation of new flexibilities authorized by law as
                                                well as delays in jointly developing cost estimates for long-term recovery projects
GAO will continue to monitor the                such as the repair or replacement of hospitals, buildings, and other public
progress of Puerto Rico’s and the               infrastructure. FEMA has taken some actions to help address these issues,
USVI’s recovery as part of its ongoing          including developing additional guidance and specific training. However, it is too
work.                                           soon to determine the effectiveness of FEMA’s actions. GAO will continue to
                                                evaluate the Public Assistance program in the USVI and Puerto Rico and plans
View GAO-19-662T. For more information,
contact Chris Currie at (404) 679-1875 or       to report its findings in late 2019 and early 2020, respectively.
curriec@gao.gov.
                                                ______________________________________ United States Government Accountability Office
Letter
         Letter




         Chairman Payne, Ranking Member King, and Members of the
         Subcommittee:

         Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work on the Federal
         Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) recovery operations in Puerto
         Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

         In the span of 14 days in September 2017, two major hurricanes—Irma
         and Maria—struck Puerto Rico and the USVI, severely damaging critical
         infrastructure and causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.
         Specifically, on September 6, 2017, Hurricane Irma passed just north of
         the USVI islands of St. Thomas and St. John and Puerto Rico as a
         Category 5 hurricane, causing severe wind and rain inundation. 1 Less
         than 2 weeks later, on September 19, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck the
         USVI island of St. Croix as a Category 5 hurricane and, hours later on
         September 20, 2017, made a direct hit as a Category 4 hurricane on the
         main island of Puerto Rico (see fig. 1).




         1
          The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) measures hurricanes on a
         scale from 1 to 5 with a Category 1 being the least intense and a Category 5 being the
         most intense. NOAA defines a Category 5 hurricane as one with winds above 157 miles
         per hour.




         Page 1                                                                    GAO-19-662T
Figure 1: Path of Hurricanes Irma and Maria through Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands




                                         The storms caused extensive damage to roads, bridges, and other public
                                         infrastructure. Further, the hurricanes devastated Puerto Rico’s electrical
                                         system—it took roughly 11 months for power to be restored to all of the
                                         customers able to receive power, the longest blackout in U.S. history. In
                                         its recovery plan, Puerto Rico estimated that $132 billion will be needed
                                         from 2018 through 2028 to repair and reconstruct the infrastructure
                                         damaged by the hurricanes. 2



                                         2
                                          Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, Government of Puerto Rico,
                                         Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation: An Economic and Disaster
                                         Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico (August 8, 2018).




                                         Page 2                                                                      GAO-19-662T
In the USVI, the storms damaged more than half of the territory’s housing
units as well as its hospitals, schools, and water and wastewater facilities,
according to a 2018 report from the USVI Hurricane Recovery and
Resilience Task Force. 3 Overall, this report estimated that the hurricanes
caused approximately $10.7 billion in total damages across the USVI.

The storms exacerbated the financial situations in the territories, which
were operating under severe fiscal constraints prior to the hurricanes. 4
See figure 2 for examples of hurricane damage to Puerto Rico and the
USVI.




3
 In October 2017, the Governor of the USVI called for the USVI Hurricane Recovery and
Resilience Task Force to draft a report assessing the USVI’s hurricane response and
guiding its efforts during the rebuilding process. The report was released in September
2018 and details recovery initiatives across 14 sectors, including the economy, energy,
communications, transportation, and more. The report can be found at
https://www.usvihurricanetaskforce.org/. We reported our observations on federal support
for electricity grid restoration in Puerto Rico and the USVI as a result of the 2017
hurricanes in a separate report. See GAO, 2017 Hurricane Season: Federal Support for
Electricity Grid Restoration in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, GAO-19-296
(Washington, D.C.: Apr. 18, 2019).
4
 The USVI’s total public debt outstanding increased between fiscal years 2005 and 2015
from $1.4 billion to $2.7 billion. The balance subsequently declined to $2.6 billion in fiscal
year 2016—the most recent year for which data were available—due to the repayment of
existing debt. Further, the USVI has not been able to access capital markets at favorable
interest rates since January 2017, when investors began to demand higher rates to
compensate for what they perceived as increased risks in the territory. See GAO, U.S.
Territories: Public Debt Outlook – 2019 Update, GAO-19-525 (Washington, D.C.: June 28,
2019).




Page 3                                                                           GAO-19-662T
Figure 2: Examples of Hurricane Damage in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands




                                         FEMA—a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—is
                                         the lead federal agency responsible for disaster preparedness, response,
                                         and recovery, which includes assisting Puerto Rico and the USVI as they
                                         recover from these natural disasters. 5 Among other responsibilities,
                                         FEMA administers the Public Assistance program through a partnership
                                         with the governments of Puerto Rico and the USVI to provide grant
                                         funding for a wide range of eligible response and recovery activities.
                                         These activities include debris removal efforts; life-saving emergency
                                         protective measures; and the repair, replacement, or restoration of
                                         disaster-damaged publicly-owned facilities, electrical utilities, roads and
                                         bridges; and more.




                                         See 6 U.S.C. § 313.
                                         5




                                         Page 4                                                          GAO-19-662T
My testimony today discusses our prior and ongoing work on disaster
recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the USVI following Hurricanes Irma
and Maria in 2017, including:

1. the status of Public Assistance grant funding in Puerto Rico and the
   USVI, as of April 2019;
2. the recovery offices Puerto Rico and the USVI have established to
   manage recovery efforts; and
3. the challenges FEMA, Puerto Rico, and the USVI have faced in
   implementing the Public Assistance program, and the actions FEMA
   has taken to address them.
My statement is based on reports we issued in February, March, and
June 2019 as well as data and preliminary observations from our ongoing
reviews of FEMA’s recovery activities in Puerto Rico and the USVI for a
number of congressional committees and subcommittees. To perform our
prior work, we reviewed federal laws related to emergency management,
analyzed FEMA data and documentation, and interviewed relevant
agency officials. More detailed information on the scope and methodology
for our prior work can be found in the issued reports listed in appendix I.

To develop our preliminary observations from ongoing work, we reviewed
federal laws and documentation from FEMA, Puerto Rico, and the USVI,
including policies, procedures, and guidance specific to emergency
management. We also obtained and analyzed data from FEMA’s
Emergency Management Mission Integrated Environment and Integrated
Financial Management Information System on Public Assistance program
obligations and Puerto Rico’s and the USVI’s expenditures as of April
2019. 6 We reviewed existing information about these systems,
interviewed data users and managers responsible for these data, and
cross-checked data across sources to ensure consistency. We
determined these data to be reliable for the purposes of this statement.
Moreover, we conducted site visits to Puerto Rico and the USVI to meet
with federal, territorial, and local government and emergency

6
 An obligation is a definite commitment that creates a legal liability of the government for
the payment of goods and services ordered or received. For the purposes of this
statement, obligations represent the amount of grant funding FEMA provided through the
Public Assistance program for specific projects in the USVI and Puerto Rico. An
expenditure is an amount paid by federal agencies, by cash or cash equivalent, during the
fiscal year to liquidate government obligations. For the purposes of this statement, an
expenditure represents the actual spending by the USVI and Puerto Rico governments of
money obligated by the federal government.




Page 5                                                                         GAO-19-662T
                           management officials to discuss disaster recovery efforts and associated
                           challenges. For a list of our ongoing emergency management reviews,
                           see appendix II.

                           We conducted the work on which this statement is based in accordance
                           with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards
                           require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate
                           evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions
                           based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence obtained
                           provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions based on
                           our audit objectives.



Background
FEMA’s Public Assistance   FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides grant funding to state,
Program                    territorial, local, and tribal governments as well as certain types of private
                           nonprofit organizations to assist with responding to and recovering from
                           presidentially-declared major disasters or emergencies. 7 As shown in
                           figure 3, Public Assistance grant funds are categorized broadly as
                           “emergency work” or “permanent work.” Within these broad categories
                           are separate subcategories. In addition to the emergency work and
                           permanent work categories, the program includes category Z, which
                           represents indirect costs, direct administrative costs, and any other
                           administrative expenses associated with a specific project.




                           7
                            In accordance with the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act
                           (Stafford Act), as amended, the President of the United States may declare that a major
                           disaster or emergency exists in response to a governor’s or tribal chief executive’s request
                           if the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the
                           capabilities of a state, tribe, or local government and federal assistance is necessary. See
                           42 U.S.C. §§ 5170-5172. The Public Assistance program represents the largest share of
                           the Disaster Relief Fund, which is the primary source of federal disaster assistance for
                           state and local governments when a disaster is declared.




                           Page 6                                                                         GAO-19-662T
Figure 3: Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Program Categories of Work




                                      FEMA’s Public Assistance program also provides grant funding for cost-
                                      effective hazard mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate the long-term
                                      risk to people and property from future natural and man-made disasters
                                      and their effects. 8 For example, a community that had a fire station
                                      damaged by a disaster could use Public Assistance grant funding to
                                      repair the facility and incorporate additional measures such as installing
                                      hurricane shutters over the windows to mitigate the potential for future
                                      damage.


                                      8
                                       FEMA may fund hazard mitigation measures related to the damaged facilities receiving
                                      Public Assistance grant funding pursuant to section 406 of the Stafford Act, as amended.
                                      42 U.S.C. § 5172; 44 C.F.R. § 206.226.




                                      Page 7                                                                       GAO-19-662T
                         FEMA, the state or territorial government (the recipient), and local or
                         territorial entities (the subrecipient) work together to develop projects
                         under the Public Assistance program. After a project has completed
                         FEMA’s review process and is approved, FEMA obligates funding for the
                         project by placing money into an account where the recipient has the
                         authority to draw down—or withdraw—funding to pay the subrecipient for
                         eligible work upon completion.


The Public Assistance    The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 authorized the use of
Alternative Procedures   alternative procedures in administering the Public Assistance program,
                         thereby providing new flexibilities to FEMA, states, territories, and local
Program in Puerto Rico
                         governments for debris removal, infrastructure repair, and rebuilding
and the USVI             projects using funds from this program. 9 Unlike in the standard Public
                         Assistance program where FEMA will fund the actual cost of a project, the
                         Public Assistance alternative procedures allow awards for permanent
                         work projects to be made on the basis of fixed-cost estimates to provide
                         financial incentives for the timely and cost-effective completion of work.

                         Under these procedures, if the actual cost of the project exceeds the
                         fixed-cost estimate agreed upon by FEMA and the recipient, the recipient
                         or subrecipient is responsible for the additional costs at the time of the
                         close-out process. However, if the actual cost of completing eligible work
                         for a project is below the estimate, the recipient may use the remaining
                         funds for additional cost-effective hazard mitigation measures to increase
                         the resilience of public infrastructure. In addition, these funds may also be
                         used for activities that improve the recipient’s or subrecipient’s future
                         Public Assistance operations or planning.

                         In October 2017, Puerto Rico requested, and FEMA approved, the use of
                         the alternative procedures program for all large-project funding for Public


                         9
                          The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 amended the Stafford Act by adding
                         Section 428, which authorized FEMA to approve Public Assistance program projects
                         under the alternative procedures provided by that section for any presidentially-declared
                         major disaster or emergency. This section further authorized FEMA to carry out the
                         alternative procedures as a pilot program until FEMA promulgates regulations to
                         implement this section. Pub. L. No. 113-2, div. B, § 1102(2), 127 Stat. 39, amending Pub.
                         L. No. 93-288, tit. IV, § 428 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 5189f). The stated goals of the
                         alternative procedures are to reduce the costs to the federal government, increase
                         flexibility in the administration of the Public Assistance program, expedite the provision of
                         assistance under the program, and provide financial incentives for recipients of the
                         program for the timely and cost-effective completion of projects.




                         Page 8                                                                           GAO-19-662T
                        Assistance permanent work projects in categories C through G. 10
                        Although FEMA had approved alternative procedure grants in 30 states
                        as of April 2018, in these cases, alternative procedures were used on a
                        project-by-project basis. Puerto Rico’s recovery from the 2017 hurricanes
                        is the first recovery to use alternative procedures for all large permanent
                        work projects. In addition, in July 2018, FEMA approved a request from
                        the Governor of the USVI to transition to using the Public Assistance
                        alternative procedures program for permanent work in the territory. Unlike
                        in Puerto Rico, the USVI may pursue the alternative procedures on a
                        project-by-project basis.


                        As of April 2019, FEMA had obligated a total of about $7.4 billion in grant
FEMA Had Obligated      funds for Public Assistance projects in both Puerto Rico and the USVI. 11
$5.6 Billion and $1.8   Specifically, as shown in figure 4, FEMA obligated approximately $5.6
                        billion for 1,264 Public Assistance projects in Puerto Rico, including
Billion in Public       approximately $5.1 billion (90 percent) for emergency work (categories A
Assistance Grant        and B) and $377.7 million (7 percent) for permanent work in categories C
                        through G). 12
Funding in Puerto
Rico and the USVI,
Respectively, as of
April 2019
                        10
                          According to a November 2017 amendment to Puerto Rico’s major disaster declaration,
                        due to the extraordinary level of infrastructure damage caused by Hurricane Maria, as well
                        as the financial status of Puerto Rico, officials chose to use the alternative procedures for
                        all large-project funding for Public Assistance categories C through G pursuant to section
                        428 of the Stafford Act. Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 5 to Notice of a Major Disaster
                        Declaration, 82 Fed. Reg. 53,514 (Nov. 16, 2017). For fiscal year 2018, the large project
                        threshold was $125,500.
                         These data include Public Assistance grant funding only and do not include obligations
                        11

                        and expenditures for, among other federal disaster assistance programs, direct federal
                        mission assignments, in which a federal agency is tasked with providing eligible
                        emergency work or debris removal services to a territory or state, or for other categories of
                        mission assignments. In April 2019, we reported that FEMA had obligated an additional $2
                        billion in Puerto Rico and $63 million in the USVI for direct federal assistance through
                        mission assignments for temporary emergency power and grid restoration efforts as of
                        July 2018. See GAO, 2017 Hurricane Season: Federal Support for Electricity Grid
                        Restoration in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico GAO-19-296 (Washington D.C.:
                        April 18, 2019.)
                         An additional $136 million (3 percent) was obligated for management and direct
                        12

                        administrative costs.




                        Page 9                                                                          GAO-19-662T
Figure 4: Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) $5.6 Billion in Public Assistance Grant Funding Obligated to
Puerto Rico by Category, April 2019




                                        Note: Numbers might not add up due to rounding. Emergency protective measures include activities
                                        to lessen the immediate threat to life, public health, or safety such as search and rescue operations
                                        and providing medical care and transport. On October 5, 2018, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of
                                        2018 amended the definition of management costs to include any indirect cost, any direct
                                        administrative cost, and any other administrative expense associated with a specific project. See Pub.
                                        L. No. 115-254, § 1215, 132 Stat. 3186, 3449 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 5165b(a)). Recipients and
                                        subrecipients for disasters or emergencies declared from Aug. 1, 2017 through Oct. 4, 2018 were
                                        able to opt to use FEMA’s interim policy implementing the amended definition or to use previous
                                        existing options, which reimburse management (indirect) costs and direct administrative costs
                                        separately. Puerto Rico as a recipient opted to use the new interim policy, whereas several
                                        subrecipients opted to use previous options, such that the total obligations for Category Z include
                                        both management and direct administrative costs. These data include Public Assistance program
                                        grant funding and do not include obligations and expenditures for, among other things, direct federal
                                        mission assignments, in which a federal agency is tasked with providing eligible emergency work or
                                        debris removal services to a territory or state, or for other categories of mission assignments. For
                                        example, these data do not include obligations for direct federal assistance through mission
                                        assignments for temporary emergency power and grid restoration efforts in Puerto Rico.




                                        Page 10                                                                                GAO-19-662T
Puerto Rico had expended approximately $3.5 billion—about 61 percent
of total Public Assistance grant obligations in Puerto Rico—as of April
2019. Ninety-six percent of the expended amount went toward
emergency work projects in categories A and B while just over one
percent went toward permanent work projects. The majority of FEMA’s
obligations and the funding Puerto Rico expended as of April 2019 are for
emergency work because these projects began soon after the disasters
struck and focused on debris removal and providing assistance to
address immediate threats to life and property. In contrast, permanent
work projects take time to identify, develop, and ultimately complete as
they represent the longer-term repair and restoration of public
infrastructure.

In the USVI, FEMA had obligated approximately $1.8 billion for 583 Public
Assistance projects across the territory, as of April 2019. Similar to Public
Assistance grant funding in Puerto Rico, the majority of funding FEMA
obligated and the USVI expended was in emergency work categories A
and B. Specifically, FEMA obligated approximately $1.1 billion (63
percent) for emergency work (categories A and B) and $587.3 million (33
percent) for permanent work (categories C through G) in the territory (see
fig. 5). 13




 An additional $66.0 million (4 percent) was obligated for management costs.
13




Page 11                                                                        GAO-19-662T
Figure 5: Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) $1.8 Billion in Public Assistance Grant Funding Obligated to the
U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) by Category, April 2019




                                        Note: Numbers might not add up due to rounding. As of April 2019, FEMA did not have any category
                                        D Public Assistance projects in the USVI. Emergency protective measures are activities to lessen the
                                        immediate threat to life, public health, or safety such as search and rescue operations and providing
                                        medical care and transport. Management costs are any indirect cost, any direct administrative cost,
                                        and any other administrative expense associated with a specific project. These data include Public
                                        Assistance program grant funding and do not include obligations and expenditures for, among other
                                        things, direct federal mission assignments, in which a federal agency is tasked with providing eligible
                                        emergency work or debris removal services to a territory or state, or for other categories of mission
                                        assignments. For example, these data do not include obligations for direct federal assistance through
                                        mission assignments for temporary emergency power and grid restoration efforts in the USVI.


                                        Of the $1.8 billion FEMA obligated for Public Assistance projects, the
                                        USVI had expended approximately $982.4 million as of April 2019.
                                        Specifically, the USVI had expended about $808.1 million (82 percent) for




                                        Page 12                                                                                  GAO-19-662T
emergency work projects in categories A and B and $163.1 million (17
percent) for permanent work projects in categories C through G. 14

Emergency work. As of April 2019, FEMA had obligated a total of
approximately $6.2 billion for emergency work projects in Puerto Rico and
the USVI—including about $5.1 billion in Puerto Rico and $1.1 billion in
the USVI. These projects focused on debris removal activities and
providing assistance to address immediate threats to life and property.
For example, as of April 2019, FEMA had obligated $138.9 million for
projects focused on debris removal activities in the USVI under category
A. This included $45.9 million to the USVI Department of Public Works for
USVI-wide debris removal efforts and $39.1 million to the USVI Water
and Power Authority for these activities in St. Croix (see fig. 6).

Figure 6: Organic Debris Storage Area in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands




In another example, FEMA obligated more than $140.0 million to the
Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewer Authority under category B to fund
emergency protective measures, including using back-up generators to
supply water to the island after Hurricane Maria, among other things.

 The USVI also expended about $11.2 million for management costs under category Z.
14

As noted above, this category represents any indirect cost, any direct administrative cost,
and any other administrative expense associated with a specific project.




Page 13                                                                        GAO-19-662T
Further, as of April 2019, FEMA had obligated $1.1 billion in Puerto Rico
and $278 million in the USVI to fund the Sheltering and Temporary
Essential Power pilot program. This program, which is implemented as a
subprogram under Public Assistance program category B, is intended to
provide essential repairs or restore power to private residences to allow
affected individuals to return or remain in their homes, thereby reducing
the demand for other shelter options. We are continuing to assess this
program as part of our ongoing work on recovery efforts in the USVI.

Permanent work. As of April 2019, FEMA had obligated approximately
$965.0 million for permanent work projects in Puerto Rico and the USVI—
including about $377.7 million in Puerto Rico and $587.3 million in the
USVI. These projects focused on the restoration of disaster-damaged
infrastructure or systems. For example, under category C, FEMA
obligated $137.6 million for projects in Puerto Rico focused on the
permanent repair of roads and bridges, such as the severely damaged
road shown in figure 7 below.




Page 14                                                         GAO-19-662T
Figure 7: Collapsed Segment of Road Near Maricao, Puerto Rico, September 2018




                                       In addition, under category E, FEMA obligated $39.2 million and $67.7
                                       million for projects in Puerto Rico and the USVI, respectively, focused on
                                       repairing and rebuilding damaged public buildings and equipment, such
                                       as the schools shown in figure 8 below.




                                       Page 15                                                         GAO-19-662T
Figure 8: Hurricane Damage to Schools in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands




                                         Further, under category F, FEMA obligated $504.9 million for projects in
                                         the USVI to repair damaged utilities. Specifically, FEMA obligated $481.8
                                         million—or 95 percent of this total—through the standard Public
                                         Assistance program for projects focused on territory-wide permanent
                                         electrical distribution system repairs. This includes replacing damaged
                                         wooden utility poles with more resilient composite fiberglass poles that
                                         can withstand 200 mile per hour winds as well as power transmission
                                         lines and transformers (see fig. 9). 15




                                          In April 2019, we reported that the 2017 hurricanes caused widespread devastation to
                                         15

                                         both Puerto Rico’s and the USVI’s electrical grid and that federal agencies—including
                                         FEMA—provided both traditional support to restore electricity in the territories as well as
                                         unprecedented support in Puerto Rico in coordinating and assisting with the territory’s grid
                                         restoration. See GAO, 2017 Hurricane Season: Federal Support for Electricity Grid
                                         Restoration in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico GAO-19-296 (Washington D.C.:
                                         April 18, 2019.)




                                         Page 16                                                                        GAO-19-662T
                       Figure 9: Wooden and New Composite Fiberglass Utility Poles in St. Croix, U.S.
                       Virgin Islands




                       As the recipients of federal disaster funding, Puerto Rico and the USVI
Puerto Rico and the    are responsible for monitoring and overseeing the Public Assistance
USVI Have              program to ensure it is implemented in compliance with applicable laws,
                       regulations, and requirements as well as FEMA policies and guidance. To
Established Recovery   address these responsibilities, Puerto Rico and the USVI established
Offices to Oversee     recovery offices to manage recovery activities and funding, including
                       through the Public Assistance program.
and Monitor Recovery
Efforts




                       Page 17                                                                GAO-19-662T
Puerto Rico’s Central      In March 2019, we reported that Puerto Rico, in accordance with
Office for Recovery,       Amendment 5 to the President’s disaster declaration, established the
                           Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience (COR3) to
Reconstruction, and        oversee federal recovery funds. 16 We also reported that COR3 was
Resilience Has Developed   developing an internal controls plan to help ensure better management
Internal Controls to       and accountability of the funds. 17 According to FEMA officials, FEMA
Oversee Recovery Funds     instituted a manual reimbursement process due to Puerto Rico’s financial
                           situation, weaknesses in internal controls, and the large amount of
                           recovery funds, among other things, to mitigate risk and help ensure
                           financial accountability. However, from our ongoing work on Puerto Rico’s
                           disaster recovery efforts, we have learned that, on April 1, 2019, FEMA
                           removed the manual reimbursement process and began a transition to
                           allow the central recovery office to take responsibility for the review and
                           reimbursement approval of federal recovery funds.

                           We have also learned from our ongoing work that, in March 2019, COR3
                           released the Disaster Recovery Federal Funds Management Guide.
                           Among other things, the guide outlines COR3’s roles and responsibilities
                           and the internal controls COR3 put in place to oversee the recovery. For
                           example, COR3 will identify, procure, and administer all federal, territorial,
                           and private resources available to Puerto Rico related to recovery. In
                           addition, it will provide oversight of subrecipients using risk-based
                           monitoring, offer technical assistance, and advise Puerto Rico’s
                           governmental agencies and municipalities regarding any matter related to
                           recovery. COR3 continues to update its online transparency portal
                           intended to provide a breakdown of FEMA Public Assistance and other
                           federal funding obligated for disaster recovery in Puerto Rico.


The USVI Established the   According to our preliminary observations, in February 2019, the USVI
Office of Disaster         established the new Office of Disaster Recovery. This office serves as the
                           primary territorial agency responsible for overseeing all disaster recovery
Recovery to Monitor and
                           efforts and funding in the territory, and coordinates across all USVI
Oversee Recovery Efforts   governmental agencies and other pertinent entities. 18 According to USVI

                            Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 5 to Notice of a Major Disaster Declaration, 82 Fed. Reg.
                           16

                           53,514 (Nov. 16, 2017).
                            GAO-19-256.
                           17


                           18
                             Prior to the Office of Disaster Recovery’s establishment in February 2019, the U.S. Virgin
                           Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency was responsible for managing and
                           overseeing the implementation of federal recovery programs in the USVI, including the
                           Public Assistance program.




                           Page 18                                                                        GAO-19-662T
                       officials, following the 2017 hurricanes, key USVI agencies did not have
                       enough employees with the knowledge and expertise necessary to staff
                       recovery-related positions and effectively manage the implementation of
                       recovery efforts. To address this challenge in the short-term, the USVI
                       government hired two contractors in December 2017—Witt O’Brien’s,
                       LLC and Ernst & Young Puerto Rico, LLC—to assist the territory in
                       planning, developing, implementing, and overseeing Public Assistance
                       program projects, among other responsibilities. The Director of the Office
                       of Disaster Recovery told us that while contractor personnel had been
                       valuable in augmenting the USVI’s management capacity in the short
                       term, the territory’s longer-term vision included the establishment of the
                       Office of Disaster Recovery to centrally manage all aspects of federal
                       recovery in the territory.

                       Among other things, the Office of Disaster Recovery is responsible for
                       taking on the USVI’s monitoring and oversight responsibilities for the
                       Public Assistance program in the long term. This includes tracking and
                       reporting on the progress of projects and overseeing reimbursement
                       requests for completed work to ensure compliance with applicable laws
                       and FEMA policies. As of March 2019, the Director of the Office of
                       Disaster Recovery told us the priority is to quickly hire and train qualified
                       individuals to staff the new agency. FEMA officials in the USVI stated that
                       the establishment of the Office of Disaster Recovery and the USVI’s
                       ongoing efforts to hire local residents into recovery-related positions
                       represented a positive step forward in increasing the territory’s capacity to
                       oversee recovery efforts. We will continue to review the monitoring and
                       oversight of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the USVI in our ongoing
                       work.


                       Our prior and ongoing work highlight the challenges with implementing
Public Assistance      the Public Assistance program—and the alternative procedures—in
Challenges Remain in   Puerto Rico and the USVI. In particular, our prior and ongoing work have
                       identified challenges related to (1) the clarity of FEMA’s guidance for the
Puerto Rico and        Public Assistance program, (2) the time and resources needed to
USVI, However          transition to FEMA’s new Public Assistance program delivery model in
                       Puerto Rico, (3) the implementation of flexibilities provided by the
FEMA has Taken         Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, and (4) developing fixed-cost estimates.
Some Actions to        FEMA has taken some actions, including issuing additional guidance and
                       developing specific training, among other things, to improve Public
Improve Program        Assistance implementation in Puerto Rico and the USVI. However, it is
Implementation         too soon to assess their effectiveness in addressing these issues.



                       Page 19                                                           GAO-19-662T
Clarity of Guidance. In March 2019, we reported that officials from
FEMA, COR3, and municipalities said they experienced initial challenges
with the recovery process, including concerns about lack of experience
and knowledge of the alternative procedures; and concerns about
missing, incomplete, or conflicting guidance from FEMA on the alternative
procedures. 19 In addition, in our June 2019 testimony statement we
continued to report on these challenges and preliminary observations
from our ongoing work indicate that these challenges continue. 20 For
example, officials from Puerto Rico’s government agencies told us they
did not feel they had sufficient guidance on the FEMA Public Assistance
program and where they did, written and verbal FEMA guidance was
inconsistent or conflicting. For instance, officials from one agency
expressed their desire for more FEMA guidance communicated in writing
as FEMA officials would frequently interpret existing guidance differently.
Similarly, officials from two agencies described situations where they had
initially been directed to follow one interpretation of a policy, only to be
directed to follow a different, conflicting interpretation in the subsequent
months. Puerto Rico agency officials also stated that the lack of sufficient
instruction led to a “back and forth” with FEMA for clarifications, which led
to delays in the phases of project development. For example, officials
from one Puerto Rico government agency stated that conflicting verbal
instructions from several FEMA officials contributed to delays in opening
the bidding process for recovery-related contracts. FEMA officials in
Puerto Rico stated that the agency has developed specific guidance for
disaster recovery in Puerto Rico and that there are various ways, such as
in-person meetings, where officials from Puerto Rico can obtain
clarification. FEMA officials also reported that they developed additional
training for new FEMA employees. We are continuing to examine this
issue as part of our ongoing review of Puerto Rico’s recovery.

FEMA’s new delivery model in Puerto Rico. In May 2019, FEMA’s
Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico announced that
FEMA was transitioning to using the new Public Assistance program
delivery model in Puerto Rico beginning on June 3, 2019. Among other
things, the implementation of the new delivery model establishes a new
Consolidated Resource Center in Puerto Rico to support grant


 See GAO-19-256.
19



 GAO, Emergency Management: FEMA Has Made Progress, but Challenges and Future
20

Risks Highlight Imperative for Further Improvements, GAO-19-594T (Washington, D.C.:
Wednesday, June 12, 2019).




Page 20                                                                 GAO-19-662T
development for disaster recovery across all recovery sectors and
geographic branches. 21 Following the hurricanes, FEMA implemented a
program delivery model developed specifically for Puerto Rico which
included, among other things, a sector-based approach which
coordinated recovery resources across the federal interagency, private
sector, and nongovernmental organizations to identify and complete
proposed work. According to FEMA officials, the decision to transition
from the initial delivery model to the new delivery model in Puerto Rico
was due to improvements made since its nationwide deployment in 2017.
In response, COR3 officials raised concerns about the scope of the
changes and potential challenges with the amount of time and resources
needed to transition to the new delivery model.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. We reported in June 2019 that in
both Puerto Rico and the USVI, FEMA and local officials have reported
challenges with the implementation of the flexibilities authorized by
section 20601 of the Bipartisan Budget Act. 22 This section of the Act
allows for the provision of assistance under the Public Assistance
alternative procedures to restore disaster-damaged facilities or systems
that provide critical services—such as medical and educational facilities—
to an industry standard without regard to pre-disaster condition. 23 Officials

 In 2015, FEMA awarded a contract for program support to help Public Assistance
21

officials implement a redesigned Public Assistance program, known as the new delivery
model. This included a new process to develop and review grant applications, and
obligate program funds to states affected by disasters; new positions, such as a new
program delivery manager who is the single point of contact throughout the grant
application process; a new Consolidated Resource Center to support field operations by
supplementing project development, validation, and review of proposed Public Assistance
project applications; and a new information system to maintain and share Public
Assistance grant application documents.
 GAO-19-594T.
22



 The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 authorized FEMA, when using the Public Assistance
23

alternative procedures, to provide assistance to fund the replacement or restoration of
disaster-damaged infrastructure that provide critical services to industry standards without
regard to pre-disaster condition. Pub. L. No. 115-123, § 20601(1), 132 Stat. 64 (2018).
Critical services include public infrastructure in the following sectors: power, water, sewer,
wastewater treatment, communications, education, and emergency medical care. See 42
U.S.C. § 5172(a)(3)(B). Section 20601 applies only to assistance provided through the
Public Assistance alternative procedures program for the duration of the recovery for the
major disasters declared in Puerto Rico and the USVI following hurricanes Irma and
Maria. Further, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019,
which was signed into law on June 6, 2019, provides additional direction to FEMA in the
implementation of section 20601. Pub. L. No. 116-20, tit. VI, § 601, 133 Stat. 871, 882
(2019). For the purposes of our report, discussion of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018
refers specifically to section 20601.




Page 21                                                                          GAO-19-662T
from Puerto Rico’s central government stated that they disagreed with
FEMA’s interpretation of the types of damages covered by section 20601
of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. In response, FEMA officials in
Puerto Rico stated they held several briefings with Puerto Rico’s central
recovery office to explain FEMA’s interpretation of the section. 24 In
addition, FEMA officials in the USVI told us that initially, they had difficulty
obtaining clarification from FEMA headquarters regarding how to
implement key components of section 20601 of the Act. Further, USVI
officials stated that at times, the appropriate process for implementing
components of the Act was not clear and that ensuring program
participants understood its key components was difficult. However, FEMA
officials in the USVI stated that they continue to move forward with
developing alternative procedures projects. USVI officials also told us that
FEMA had been responsive and helpful in identifying its options for using
the new flexibilities the Act provides.

Developing Fixed-Cost Estimates. Preliminary observations from our
ongoing work indicate that as of May 2019, FEMA had obligated funding
for four alternative procedures program projects in Puerto Rico and two
projects in the USVI. FEMA officials in Puerto Rico and the USVI stated
that the ongoing development of a “cost factor” for use in the fixed-cost
estimating process has slowed the pace of FEMA obligations for
permanent work projects. Specifically, these factors are intended to
ensure that the costs associated with implementing projects in Puerto
Rico and the USVI are sufficiently captured when developing the fixed-
cost estimates for alternative procedures projects. Since incorporating the
cost factor into the fixed-cost estimating process will increase the amount
of funding obligated for any given permanent work project, FEMA officials
explained that Puerto Rico and the USVI have an incentive to delay the
obligation of individual projects until this factor is finalized. For example,
FEMA officials in the USVI told us in May 2019 that obligations for
permanent work projects in the territory were mostly on hold until the
USVI-specific cost factor was finalized. As of June 2019, the cost factors
for use in both Puerto Rico and the USVI had not yet been finalized.

According to FEMA guidance, the Puerto Rico-specific cost factor is being
developed by a third-party center of excellence comprising personnel


 In September 2018, FEMA issued guidance for implementing section 20601 of the
24

Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 through the Public Assistance alternative procedures
program.




Page 22                                                                     GAO-19-662T
selected by FEMA and Puerto Rico, through COR3. 25 In March 2019, we
reported that while FEMA had identified and chosen personnel, COR3
had not yet finalized its hiring of personnel to staff the center of
excellence, which resulted in delaying the cost estimation process. 26
Through our ongoing work we learned that, as of June 2019, COR3 had
identified and hired personnel to staff the center; however, FEMA and
COR3 have not come to agreement on a cost estimation approach.
Further, according to FEMA officials, no timeline has been established for
the completion of the center of excellence’s standard operating
procedures for developing fixed-cost estimates for permanent work
projects in Puerto Rico.

In addition, according to FEMA officials, the USVI-specific factor is being
developed by an independent contractor. FEMA officials told us that
territorial officials disagreed with the initial cost factors this contractor
proposed and contended the factors were insufficient in accurately
capturing the unique circumstances that influence construction costs in
the territory, such as the limited availability of local resources and the
need to import materials and labor. As of June 2019, these officials told
us the contractor was developing a third and final cost factor for potential
incorporation into the fixed-cost estimation process in the USVI. Despite
these delays, FEMA officials in the USVI stated that they continue to work
with territorial officials to develop alternative procedures projects in the
territory. They added that once the cost factor is finalized and
incorporated into FEMA’s fixed-cost estimating process, FEMA and the
USVI will be well positioned to quickly finalize these projects and obligate
funding. However, we reported in June 2019 that the territory plans to
take a cautious approach in pursuing permanent work projects using the
Public Assistance alternative procedures program. Specifically, USVI
officials we interviewed told us that developing fixed-cost estimates for
alternative procedures projects that accurately incorporate the future
impact of inflation and increases in materials and labor costs for certain
projects was difficult. Further, these officials stated that since the territory
is financially responsible for any costs that exceed these fixed-cost
estimates, the USVI plans to pursue alternative procedures projects that



 According to FEMA guidance, as part of the alternative procedures process in Puerto
25

Rico, FEMA and Puerto Rico must agree on a group of personnel with cost estimation
expertise who will serve as part of a center of excellence.
 GAO-19-256.
26




Page 23                                                                    GAO-19-662T
                  do not include high levels of complexity or uncertainty to reduce the risk
                  of cost overruns, especially given its already difficult financial situation. 27

                  As established in FEMA guidance, Puerto Rico’s deadline for finalizing
                  fixed-cost estimates for permanent work projects using the alternative
                  procedures—and the Bipartisan Budget Act, as applicable—is October
                  2019. 28 Since Puerto Rico must use the alternative procedures for all
                  large permanent work, all fixed-cost estimates for Public Assistance
                  program permanent work projects in Puerto Rico must be finalized by this
                  date, or, according to FEMA officials, Puerto Rico must request that
                  FEMA extend this deadline on a project-by-project basis. In contrast, the
                  USVI has the flexibility to pursue either the alternative procedures or the
                  standard procedures on a project-by-project basis. As the USVI’s
                  deadline for finalizing these projects is in March 2020, it is too early
                  gauge the extent to which the alternative procedures will play a role in the
                  USVI’s long-term recovery strategy.

                  We will continue to evaluate these identified challenges and any efforts to
                  address them, as well as other aspects of recovery efforts in the USVI
                  and Puerto Rico, and plan to report our findings in late 2019 and early
                  2020, respectively.


                  Thank you, Chairman Payne, Ranking Member King, and Members of the
                  Subcommittee. This concludes my prepared statement. I would be happy
                  to respond to any question you may have at this time.


                  If you or your staff has any questions concerning this testimony, please
GAO Contact and   contact Christopher P. Currie at (404) 679-1875 or curriec@gao.gov.
Staff             Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public
                  Affairs may be found on the last page of this statement. Key contributors
Acknowledgments   to this statement were Joel Aldape (Assistant Director), Bryan Bourgault,
                  Aaron Gluck, Taylor Hadfield, Brian Lipman, and Amanda Prichard. In
                  addition, Eric Hauswirth, Susan Hsu, Tracey King, Taylor Matheson,
                  Amanda Miller, Heidi Nielson, and Kevin Reeves made contributions to

                  27
                    Under the standard Public Assistance program, FEMA will reimburse the USVI for the
                  actual cost of completed work for any given project.
                   FEMA, Public Assistance Alternative Procedures (Section 428) Guide for Permanent
                  28

                  Work FEMA-4339-DR-PR, (April, 2018).




                  Page 24                                                                    GAO-19-662T
this statement. Key contributors for the previous work on which this
statement is based are listed in each product.




Page 25                                                         GAO-19-662T
Appendix I: GAO Products Previously Issued
              Appendix I: GAO Products Previously Issued
              on Emergency Management



on Emergency Management

              2017 Disaster Relief Oversight: Strategy Needed to Ensure Agencies’
              Internal Control Plans Provide Sufficient Information. GAO-19-479
              (Washington, D.C.: June 28, 2019).

              Emergency Management: FEMA Has Made Progress, but Challenges
              and Future Risks Highlight Imperative for Further Improvements,
              GAO-19-617T (Washington, D.C.: June 25, 2019).

              Emergency Management: FEMA Has Made Progress, but Challenges
              and Future Risks Highlight the Imperative for Further Improvements,
              GAO-19-594T (Washington, D.C.: June 12, 2019).

              Disaster Assistance: FEMA Action Needed to Better Support Individuals
              Who Are Older or Have Disabilities. GAO-19-318 (Washington, D.C.: May
              14, 2019).

              Disaster Contracting: Actions Needed to Improve the Use of Post-
              Disaster Contracts to Support Response and Recovery. GAO-19-281
              (Washington, D.C.: April 24, 2019).

              2017 Hurricane Season: Federal Support for Electricity Grid Restoration
              in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. GAO-19-296 (Washington,
              D.C.: April 18, 2019).

              FEMA Grants Modernization: Improvements Needed to Strengthen
              Program Management and Cybersecurity. GAO-19-164 (Washington,
              D.C.: April 9, 2019).

              Disaster Recovery: Better Monitoring of Block Grant Funds Is Needed.
              GAO-19-232 (Washington, D.C.: March 25, 2019).

              Puerto Rico Hurricanes: Status of FEMA Funding, Oversight, and
              Recovery Challenges. GAO-19-256 (Washington, D.C.: March 14, 2019).

              Huracanes de Puerto Rico: Estado de Financiamiento de FEMA,
              Supervisión y Desafíos de Recuperación. GAO-19-331 (Washington,
              D.C.: March 14, 2019).

              High-Risk Series: Substantial Efforts Needed to Achieve Greater
              Progress on High-Risk Areas. GAO-19-157SP (Washington, D.C.: March
              6, 2019).




              Page 26                                                       GAO-19-662T
Appendix I: GAO Products Previously Issued
on Emergency Management




U.S. Virgin Islands Recovery: Status of FEMA Public Assistance Funding
and Implementation. GAO-19-253 (Washington, D.C.: February 25,
2019).

2017 Disaster Contracting: Action Needed to Better Ensure More
Effective Use and Management of Advance Contracts. GAO-19-93
(Washington, D.C.: December 6, 2018).

Continuity of Operations: Actions Needed to Strengthen FEMA’s
Oversight and Coordination of Executive Branch Readiness.
GAO-19-18SU (Washington, D.C.: November 26, 2018).

Homeland Security Grant Program: Additional Actions Could Further
Enhance FEMA’s Risk-Based Grant Assessment Model. GAO-18-354
(Washington, D.C.: September 6, 2018).

2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires: Initial Observations on the Federal
Response and Key Recovery Challenges. GAO-18-472 (Washington,
D.C.: September 4, 2018).

Federal Disaster Assistance: Individual Assistance Requests Often
Granted but FEMA Could Better Document Factors Considered.
GAO-18-366 (Washington, D.C.: May 31, 2018).

2017 Disaster Contracting: Observations on Federal Contracting for
Response and Recovery Efforts. GAO-18-335 (Washington, D.C.:
February 28, 2018).

Disaster Recovery: Additional Actions Would Improve Data Quality and
Timeliness of FEMA’s Public Assistance Appeals Processing.
GAO-18-143 (Washington, D.C.: December 15, 2017).

Disaster Assistance: Opportunities to Enhance Implementation of the
Redesigned Public Assistance Grant Program. GAO-18-30 (Washington,
D.C.: November 8, 2017).

Climate Change: Information on Potential Economic Effects Could Help
Guide Federal Efforts to Reduce Fiscal Exposure. GAO-17-720
(Washington, D.C.: September 28, 2017).

Federal Disaster Assistance: Federal Departments and Agencies
Obligated at Least $277.6 Billion during Fiscal Years 2005 through 2014.
GAO-16-797 (Washington, D.C.: September 22, 2016).


Page 27                                                       GAO-19-662T
Appendix I: GAO Products Previously Issued
on Emergency Management




Disaster Recovery: FEMA Needs to Assess Its Effectiveness in
Implementing the National Disaster Recovery Framework. GAO-16-476
(Washington, D.C.: May 26, 2016).

Disaster Response: FEMA Has Made Progress Implementing Key
Programs, but Opportunities for Improvement Exist. GAO-16-87
(Washington, D.C.: February 5, 2016).

Hurricane Sandy: An Investment Strategy Could Help the Federal
Government Enhance National Resilience for Future Disasters.
GAO-15-515 (Washington, D.C.: July 30, 2015).

Budgeting for Disasters: Approaches to Budgeting for Disasters in
Selected States. GAO-15-424 (Washington, D.C.: March 26, 2015).

High-Risk Series: An Update. GAO-15-290 (Washington, D.C.: February
11, 2015).

Emergency Preparedness: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Interagency
Assessments and Accountability for Closing Capability Gaps. GAO-15-20
(Washington, D.C.: December 4, 2014).

Fiscal Exposures: Improving Cost Recognition in the Federal Budget.
GAO-14-28 (Washington, D.C.: October 29, 2013).

Federal Disaster Assistance: Improved Criteria Needed to Assess a
Jurisdiction’s Capability to Respond and Recover on Its Own.
GAO-12-838 (Washington, D.C.: September 12, 2012).

Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs,
Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue. GAO-11-318SP (Washington,
D.C.: March 1, 2011).




Page 28                                                      GAO-19-662T
Appendix II: Ongoing GAO Reviews on
             Appendix II: Ongoing GAO Reviews on
             Emergency Management



Emergency Management

             1. Review of U.S. Virgin Islands recovery planning and progress;
             2. Puerto Rico disaster recovery planning and progress;
             3. 2017 wildfire response and recovery;
             4. Puerto Rico electricity grid recovery after the 2017 hurricane season;
             5. Mass care sheltering and feeding challenges during the 2017
                hurricanes;
             6. Department of Transportation highway and transit emergency relief
                funding;
             7. Drinking water and wastewater utility resilience;
             8. Review of disaster death count information in selected states and
                territories;
             9. Department of Health and Human Services disaster response efforts;
             10. Disaster and climate change impacts on Superfund sites;
             11. FEMA Public Assistance program fraud risk management efforts;
             12. Wildland fire fuel reduction efforts;
             13. Preparedness challenges and lessons learned from the 2017
                 disasters;
             14. FEMA workforce management and challenges;
             15. Small Business Administration response to 2017 disasters;
             16. Development of the GAO disaster resilience framework;
             17. FEMA Individuals and Households Program operations and
                 challenges;
             18. National Flood Insurance Program post-flood enforcement;
             19. Emergency alerting capabilities and progress;
             20. National Flood Insurance Program buyouts and property acquisitions;
             21. Economic costs of large-scale natural disasters and impacts on
                 community recovery;
             22. Community Development Block Grants – disaster recovery; and
             23. Disaster Housing Assistance Program.




(103626)
             Page 29                                                         GAO-19-662T
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