The IG’s office of DHS has issued a management alert warning of the potential for duplicative relief spending in areas affected more than once by natural disasters in recent years.
Many of the designated disaster areas for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma overlapped disaster areas from 13 disaster incidents in 2017 and 2016, it said, and “as a result, many of the same facilities damaged by an earlier incident may have also received damage under Hurricanes Harvey or Irma before repairs to the facility had been completed.”
As of early this month, FEMA had obligated an estimated $310 million of public assistance funding to cover permanent repair or replacement costs to facilities damaged under the 13 previous disaster declarations. Long-run, it said, FEMA will obligate billions of dollars in disaster grants related to Harvey and Irma to state, territorial, tribal, and local governments and certain nonprofit organizations.
“To avoid obligating duplicate or ineligible repair costs to an affected facility, FEMA will need to discern which incident caused damages to the facility and whether repairs necessitated by the previous incident were complete. Therefore, FEMA needs to make certain that it has effective controls in place to minimize the risk of funding duplicate or ineligible repair costs of facilities damaged by back-to-back incidents,” it said.