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senate Bill S. 2109

Does FEMA Need to Reduce Administrative Costs in Responding to Major Disasters?

Argument in favor

FEMA should be actively trying to spend as little on administrative costs as possible to conserve resources for disaster relief, and this reporting requirement would help the agency accomplish that.

Deborah's Opinion
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02/22/2016
I think all government run agencies MUST look at administrative costs!!! Every single one should be reviewed and made accountable for all taxpayer dollars going towards funding. Ted Cruz can make this happen!!!
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Sean's Opinion
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02/22/2016
The government as a whole needs to cut unnecessary costs. Though this may not be the most important place to cut costs it is still a necessary step.
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Patrick's Opinion
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02/22/2016
That which gets measured gets changed. I'm sure FEMA is a huge organization and in the absence of emergency they don't really do anything. Administratively they may be hugely burdened and of course government employees get pensions and benefits. They need audit and oversight.
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Argument opposed

This bill is unnecessary because FEMA is already attempting to bring its spending on administrative costs under control, and Congress doesn’t need an annual report to know if progress is being made.

Bob's Opinion
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02/22/2016
FEMA needs to be empowered to act for the benefit of the people in crisis. There should, however, be strong repercussions for any FEMA agent caught wasting funds or deliberately using funds for personal gain; not excluding jail time.
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Jay's Opinion
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02/22/2016
It appears FEMA is already taking measures to conserve money and resources for when it is needed most. This type of regulation seems unnecessary for congress because if a disaster happens all resources needed will be given regardless.
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CPMonroe's Opinion
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02/24/2016
As disasters - both natural & human-caused - become more widespread, affect more people's lives, occur in more remote locations & there are less resources to address them, Congressional Republicans seem adamant to curtail & hamstring agencies, like FEMA, that help people, communities & even other countries throughout the world who are in their actual time of need.
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What is Senate Bill S. 2109?

This bill would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to make a plan to reduce the cost of administering programs that offer grants and technical assistance in areas affected by major disasters.

Specifically, FEMA would be directed to:

  • Develop and implement an integrated plan to track, control, and reduce administrative costs when FEMA delivers assistance for major disasters;

  • Compare the costs and benefits of tracking administrative data in the following programs: public assistance, individual assistance, hazard mitigation, and mission assignment;

  • Clarify FEMA guidance and minimum documentation requirements for a direct administrative cost claimed by a grantee or subgrantee of a public assistance grant program authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

FEMA would be required to submit to Congress a report on the development and implementation of the previous fiscal year’s plan, with three-year and five-year updates each year by November 30 that includes:

  • The total amount spent on administrative costs and the average percentage of administrative costs of major disasters for each fiscal year;

  • An assessment of the plan’s effectiveness;

  • An analysis of whether FEMA is achieving its strategic goals for administrative costs, and if not, what is preventing it from doing so;

  • Any actions FEMA has identified as useful in improving upon and reaching those goals;

  • Any administrative cost data for major disasters, if FEMA determines it is feasible to track such data.

Impact

FEMA grants and programs related to disaster relief; and Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2109

$0.00
The CBO estimates that this bill would have an insignificant effect on the federal budget over the 2016-2020 period, as FEMA is already performing some tasks required by this legislation.

More Information

In-Depth: Following the passage of this bill by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senate as a whole passed this legislation by unanimous consent.


Of Note: According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the proportion spent by FEMA on administrative costs during the 2004 to 2013 period doubled from the preceding 10-year period, to a total of $12.7 billion between 2004-2013. As a result, FEMA has been criticized for failing to meet internal goals to reduce its spending on salaries and administration.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user USDAgov)

AKA

Directing Dollars to Disaster Relief Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to direct the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop an integrated plan to reduce administrative costs under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • EnactedFebruary 29th, 2016
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed February 23rd, 2016
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
  • The senate Passed February 9th, 2016
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    IntroducedSeptember 30th, 2015

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    I think all government run agencies MUST look at administrative costs!!! Every single one should be reviewed and made accountable for all taxpayer dollars going towards funding. Ted Cruz can make this happen!!!
    Like (6)
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    FEMA needs to be empowered to act for the benefit of the people in crisis. There should, however, be strong repercussions for any FEMA agent caught wasting funds or deliberately using funds for personal gain; not excluding jail time.
    Like (6)
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    It appears FEMA is already taking measures to conserve money and resources for when it is needed most. This type of regulation seems unnecessary for congress because if a disaster happens all resources needed will be given regardless.
    Like (4)
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    I have no objections to reducing costs. BUT if they are doing it already, what is the point? To waste staff time and $$$ writing an annual report? This sounds like a congressional boondoggle: make a politically nasty move that makes you look manly & mean to pad the campaign account & get your rabid voters to think you actually govern....when the real agenda is to avoid doing anything useful! It appears Congress has spent 8 years doing this. Wait until you have Trump as president. You will long for the halcyon days of wasting taxpayer money & destroying the country! And you will have no one to blame but your feckless selves for this type of horrid behavior!
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    As disasters - both natural & human-caused - become more widespread, affect more people's lives, occur in more remote locations & there are less resources to address them, Congressional Republicans seem adamant to curtail & hamstring agencies, like FEMA, that help people, communities & even other countries throughout the world who are in their actual time of need.
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    So Congress wants FEMA to SAVE money on administrative costs by making them do even more reporting? There I go again, trying to apply logic to the bills our politicians propose. FACEPALM!
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    The government as a whole needs to cut unnecessary costs. Though this may not be the most important place to cut costs it is still a necessary step.
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    This is simply a Republican method to shift the burden of hurricanes, tornados, and floods from the federal government to the states, many of which are cash-strapped and completely unable to foot the bill. Louisiana tried to when Katrina struck--look what happened there.
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    That which gets measured gets changed. I'm sure FEMA is a huge organization and in the absence of emergency they don't really do anything. Administratively they may be hugely burdened and of course government employees get pensions and benefits. They need audit and oversight.
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    Read the fine print: this is intended to shift the cost of transport and delivering supplies and relief to a disaster area from the FEMA to the recipients; the bill defines "administrative costs" as any cost associated with the transportation and delivery of supplies to a disaster area, EXCEPT those costs paid for by the recipients. This isn't about streamlining the agency or making anything more efficient, it is an attempt to shift costs to the people affected by the disaster. Let's look at it this way- we ALL pay taxes to the federal government so that everyone in the country can benefit from federally funded programs. FEMA gets a portion of that money, so we have all paid up front for their services (king of like paying car insurance). What this bill is doing is writing a law that says you, after already having paid for it, will now have to foot the bill to get the supplies and personnel (which you have already paid for) to where you are (a service you already paid for)- right when you are at the biggest monetary crisis you may ever face in your life. It is kind of like paying taxes to have that much needed freeway expansion then the DOT says (after it is started) "oh, by the way, you know how you already paid for that to be built and pay taxes to have it maintained? Well, we are going to let some Australian company levy a toll on it so you have to pay more money if you want to even drive in it" so you end up paying taxes for the road being built, continue paying taxes for it to be maintained, and never get to use it because you cannot afford the cost of paying some politicians' kick-back to the private company making money off it. It's kind of like that.
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    Every government agency should be reducing administrative cost. Government administrative cost has increased, while actual services to the people has decreased.
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    Shouldn't need yet another piece of legislation to enforce accountability.
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    So… in short… you want to create fresh administrative overhead to add to the burden while asking FEMA to reduce administrative overhead… the process of which itself is complicated because it temporarily increases costs while an organization studies needs, solutions and spends time teaching and implementing changes. NO EXTRA OVERHEAD IS REQUIRED HERE!
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    Absolutely, there are always too many people pushing papers around when one or two Davy computer people can achieve the same (if not) more Just my opinion
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    People don't understand the complexity of administrative responsibility when it comes to disaster management. It takes administrative staff to coordinate with local authorities, oversee the shipping of people and supplies, and ensure that the right materials are making it to the right place. Cutting administrative costs would result in lower quality disaster response.
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    Administrative cost can be reduced in order to increase the budget for relief funds. Paperwork reduction act can be applied towards relief application process. Liaison with organizations can help with tech access for citizens. Distribution of grants require field inspection and or investigation especially if subrogation is required with insurance companies. Shared expenses can be applied. I speak from experience that it didn't take much to survey Katrina zones to determine improper use of funds. A few interviews and a tank of gas. Assessing damages does require some funds but not much to blow a budget.
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    If they can reduce administrative costs without delaying the paperwork necessary to pay the victims of disaster.
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    Reducing administrative costs will allow more funds available for relief efforts.
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    Regardless of how much they reduce, someone needs to review all costs and how necessary they are in FEMA's execution during disaster relief.
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    Government spending is out of control and we need to make spending cuts across the board so we can prevent further waste in the future.
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