FEMA Flagged For Lax Oversight…Again
Policy + Politics

FEMA Flagged For Lax Oversight…Again

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Auditors are once again flagging the Federal Emergency Management Agency for not keeping closer tabs on the tens of millions of dollars worth of grants it doles out every year.


The latest example of lax oversight at FEMA comes from an inspector general report released this week that found that the agency awarded a grant of nearly $1 million for a project in California that had already been completed.

Related: FEMA Still Doesn’t Know Where Its Money Is Going

The auditors said that a county in California improperly claimed $945,640 on top of the nearly $800,000 it received from FEMA to repair a road that was damaged during a storm. The county apparently went ahead and built the road, then billed FEMA for the costs, which the agency paid without “providing reasonable justification” or conducting a cost-benefit analysis to determine how much of the project it would cover.

“As a result, FEMA and taxpayers had no assurance that the work was cost effective, as federal regulations and FEMA guidelines require,” the IG said.

The agency said it had since gone back and performed a cost-benefit analysis to determine that the grant was justified. Still, this is just the latest example of the agency’s oversight and grant-processing issues.

However, this isn’t an isolated incident. The agency’s grant awarding process has been under scrutiny for years.

A separate audit from the IG included a list of the most crucial issues FEMA needs to address this year—and unsurprisingly, a number of items included the agency’s grant issuing process.

The auditors found that FEMA is lacking a comprehensive process to demonstrate that grant obligations and cash payments are being documented efficiently and accurately.

Related: More FEMA Screw Ups Cost Taxpayers $12 Million

“We recommend that FEMA dedicate the resources to implement a process to monitor which grant programs are flowing through which grant systems in order to facilitate the assessment of system-based controls over obligations, de-obligations and payments related to grant programs,” the report said.

Separately, the list included deficiencies within FEMA’s flood insurance program and issues with FEMA employees failing to comply with ethics policies.

FEMA is routinely under intense scrutiny for botching the administration of financial assistance to storm victims.

The agency is still trying to recoup billions of improper payments it doled out to Hurricane Sandy victims in 2012.

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