OMB Instructs Agencies on Disaster Response Funding Requests

OMB has told agencies to provide by October 25 their estimates for additional funding needed related to recovery and rebuilding efforts in the wake of what it called a “very active hurricane season.”

“Agencies have the resources they need right now for short-term disaster recovery activities. In order to assist the hurricane survivors and the communities where they live, OMB plans to work closely with agencies to identify where additional funding or authorities may be necessary to support recovery and rebuilding from these recent hurricanes,” memo M-18-01 said.

It told agencies that any requests should only reflect needs directly related to hurricane damage; should only be included in the response and recovery estimates when private and State efforts are not expected to be adequate, and when existing authorities and appropriations are not likely to be sufficient; should not include work reimbursed from the reimbursed from the Disaster Relief Fund; and should not include funding for actions or activities an agency implemented in anticipation of a formal request for assistance from FEMA.

“Cost estimates for repair or replacement of damaged federally-owned assets should be provided. However, agencies should not use this process to address long-standing needs” unrelated to the hurricanes, it said.

“Unfortunately, disasters can sometimes provide cover and opportunity for corrupt individuals to perpetrate fraud by targeting disaster survivors. In the aftermath of a disaster, there are also frequently cases of waste and abuse, such as instances where benefits provided to survivors and communities have little nexus to recovery efforts, or where agencies continue to expend resources well beyond the period where it is reasonable to assume that recovery activities are continuing.

“As you consider your agency costs, please keep in mind that such wasteful or fraudulent activities will not be tolerated; they ultimately undermine public trust in the federal government’s ability to respond to disasters. We are counting on you to provide this diligent oversight up-front and throughout the recovery process,” it added.