Bill’s author cites past incidents of lost paperwork, poor coordination as impetus for legislation.
A bill requiring FEMA to come up with a plan to provide “consistent guidance and accurate information” following a disaster passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a bipartisan 408-0 vote.
The FEMA Relief Improvement Act requires FEMA to “focus efforts on its core mission — helping people recover from disasters,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., in a press release. “When people go through a disaster, such as floods or tornadoes, the people need to know that relief is on the way. From past disasters in Missouri, there have been repeated incidents of lost or misplaced paperwork, poor coordination between state and federal agencies and general lack of information from FEMA officials.”
The act requires FEMA to improve field transition by:
• Providing consistent guidance to applicants on FEMA disaster funding procedures during the response to an emergency or disaster;
• Conducting appropriate record maintenance and transfer of documents to new teams during staff transitions;
• Providing accurate assistance to applicants and grantees to ease the administrative burden throughout the process of obtaining and monitoring assistance;
• Implementing operating procedures and documenting retention requirements to ensure the maintenance of appropriate records throughout the life cycle of the disaster; and
• Identifying new technologies that further aid the disaster workforce in partnering with state, local, and tribal governments and private nonprofits in the wake of a disaster to educate, assist and inform applicants on the status of their disaster assistance applications.