Disaster Recovery in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Results of a GAO report on FEMA recovery assistance.

by Eric Holdeman / February 27, 2019

Surprise! A GAO report on a FEMA disaster recovery (public assistance) with no recommendations. See U.S. Virgin Islands Recovery:
Status of FEMA Public Assistance Funding and Implementation.

If you have not had a presidentially declared disaster of late, you might be interested in the information below on the "Public Assistance alternative procedures program. What follows is an extract from the GAO report linked above.

"FEMA and the USVI are transitioning from using the standard Public Assistance program in the territory to using the Public Assistance alternative procedures program. Unlike in the standard Public Assistance program where FEMA will fund the actual cost of a project, the alternative procedures allow awards to be made on the basis of fixed-cost estimates to provide financial incentives for the timely and cost-effective completion of permanent work projects. FEMA and USVI officials stated that the alternative procedures will give the USVI more flexibility in determining when and how to fund projects and provide an opportunity to repair and rebuild the USVI's critical services infrastructure—such as its education system and electrical grid—so it meets industry standards without regard to pre-disaster condition. As of November 2018, FEMA and USVI officials were discussing the process for developing projects under the Public Assistance alternative procedures. GAO will continue to monitor the USVI's plans for using the alternative procedures as part of its broader review assessing the USVI's disaster recovery efforts and will issue a follow-on report later this year."

Anyone who has done FEMA Public Assistance knows that the projects and process can go on forever. What interests me in particular is the "without regard to pre-disaster conditions," which has many times been a real sticking point in resolving what would be eligible for funding. 

I expect that the GAO will be back in a few years to look at what was done and the efficacy of the process. 

Claire Rubin, Senior Researcher, shared the GAO link above.