Emergency Preparedness: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Interagency Assessments and Accountability for Closing Capability Gaps

US Government Accountability Office

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) obligated $12.7 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for its administrative costs from fiscal years 2004 through 2013 and has taken some steps to reduce and better control these costs. This $12.7 billion represents 13 percent of the $95.2 billion obligated from the DRF for the 650 major disasters declared during this time frame. FEMA’s average administrative cost percentages for major disasters during the 10 fiscal years 2004 to 2013 doubled the average during the 10 fiscal years 1989 to 1998. FEMA recognized that administrative costs have increased and has taken steps intended to better control and reduce these costs, such as setting a goal in its recent strategic plan to lower these costs, and creating administrative cost targets. However, FEMA does not require these targets be met, and GAO found that had FEMA met its targets, administrative costs could have been reduced by hundreds of millions of dollars…

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that FEMA (1) develop an integrated plan to better control and reduce its administrative costs for major disasters, (2) assess the costs versus the benefits of tracking FEMA administrative costs by DRF program, and (3) clarify the agency’s guidance and minimum documentation requirements for direct administrative costs. FEMA agreed with the report and its recommendations.

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