Report text available as:

(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip?


115th Congress   }                                      {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                      {      115-107

======================================================================



 
    FEMA ACCOUNTABILITY, MODERNIZATION AND TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2017

                                _______
                                

  May 2, 2017.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Shuster, from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 1679]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 1679) to ensure that the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency's current efforts to modernize its 
grant management system includes applicant accessibility and 
transparency, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose of Legislation...........................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Legislative History and Consideration............................     4
Committee Votes..................................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     5
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     5
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     5
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     6
Advisory of Earmarks.............................................     6
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     6
Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings..............................     6
Federal Mandate Statement........................................     7
Preemption Clarification.........................................     7
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     7
Applicability of Legislative Branch..............................     7
Section-by-Section Analysis of Legislation.......................     7
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     7

                         PURPOSE OF LEGISLATION

    H.R. 1679 ensures that the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency's (FEMA) current efforts to modernize its grant 
management system includes applicant accessibility and 
transparency.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

Federal Emergency Management Agency: History

    FEMA was established in 1979 by Executive Order 12148 by 
President Jimmy Carter in response to a number of massive 
disasters in the 1960s and 1970s. As a result of states trying 
to manage these disasters, the National Governors Association 
and others made a proposal to streamline and cut the number of 
agencies states were required to work with following a 
disaster. Prior to the creation of FEMA, the federal 
government's emergency response mechanisms were scattered among 
many agencies throughout government. The creation of FEMA 
helped to centralize these authorities and the coordination of 
the federal government's response to a disaster. The Disaster 
Relief Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-288), which constituted the 
statutory authority for most federal disaster response 
activities, especially of FEMA, was later amended by the Robert 
T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, also 
known as the Stafford Act (P.L. 100-707).
    Following more than two decades as an independent agency, 
the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) created the 
Department of Homeland Security (DHS), placed FEMA within DHS, 
and FEMA's functions were dispersed among various offices and 
directorates within DHS. In 2006, following Hurricanes Katrina 
and Rita and the intensive Congressional investigations and 
oversight, Congress enacted the Post-Katrina Emergency 
Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) (P.L. 109-295), which 
addresses key response roles and authorities and put FEMA back 
together again within DHS. PKEMRA authorized the National 
Preparedness System and FEMA for the first time in legislation. 
FEMA was given the role of leading the creation of the National 
Preparedness System and was designated as the ``one-stop-shop'' 
for all preparedness grants management.

Disaster Assistance

    When the President declares a major disaster or emergency, 
the official declaration triggers certain federal response 
authorities and financial disaster assistance. In particular, 
when a declaration is made, the President is authorized to 
direct any federal agency, with or without reimbursement, to 
assist state and local governments and protect life and 
property. FEMA is responsible for coordinating federal agency 
response and ensuring the necessary federal capabilities are 
deployed at the appropriate place and time in support of state 
and local response efforts. In addition, FEMA provides direct 
support and financial assistance to states and local 
governments and individuals as authorized under the Stafford 
Act.

Preparedness Grants

    Since 2003, federal grant funds have supplemented over $47 
billion in state and local investment to build and sustain 
emergency preparedness and response capabilities.\1\ These 
investments have provided critical support for interoperable 
communication systems, first responder training programs, 
public preparedness campaigns, hazardous materials response, 
urban search and rescue, and a robust information-sharing 
network.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\See https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2016/06/29/dhs-announces-
grant-allocations-fiscal-year-2016-preaparedness-grants.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Grant Systems Modernization

    Approximately 72 percent of FEMA's total spending is 
through over 40 active grant programs, including disaster 
grants, preparedness grants, and flood insurance grants. With 
such a large and diverse program, FEMA has received numerous 
criticisms from the Government Accountability Office and the 
DHS Office of the Inspector General about issues in awarding 
and expenditures, monitoring, and management of these grants. 
State and local grantees have also complained about the lack of 
transparency in FEMA's management of its grant systems.
    Criticisms have included that very few of these grant 
programs have well-developed metrics and need fully measurable 
and achievable goals and objectives. There are often delays in 
the obligation of funds, not in FEMA awarding grants, but in 
states delaying the distribution of money to sub-grantees. 
Finally, there continues to be a great risk of improper 
payments and expenditures.
    In the past, FEMA's grant programs have operated 
independently, authorized by 18 different authorization laws, 
provided to six categories of recipients, and managed by nine 
different information technology systems in six different 
offices. To tackle this challenge, in 2015, FEMA launched its 
Grants Management Modernization initiatives to create one, 
seamless platform for sub-recipients, recipients, and federal 
staff to manage and report on grants from beginning to end.
            System Requirements
    The Committee expects regular briefings from FEMA as 
functional requirements are developed, iterative releases occur 
and the initiative moves toward initial and full operating 
capability. The Committee also expects capabilities to address 
both internal and external stakeholder frustrations and user 
needs, including the frustrations disaster victims experience 
regarding the status of federal assistance administered through 
FEMA. The system should also bridge the current information gap 
between state and local government efforts allowing for the 
gathering and sharing of information, where not prohibited by 
law, on response and recovery work to improve efficient 
execution of overall efforts.

                                HEARINGS

    The Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, 
and Emergency Management, held one hearing on this topic in the 
115th Congress:
    ``Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: The 
National Preparedness System'' held on March 16, 2017. The 
purpose of the hearing was to assess the development, 
successes, and challenges of the National Preparedness System 
and to understand how well the preparedness grant program is 
building national preparedness capabilities.
    In addition, the following hearings and roundtable 
discussions were held by the Subcommittee on subjects related 
to matters contained in H.R. 1679 during the 114th Congress:
    ``Rebuilding after the Storm: Lessening Impacts and 
Speeding Recovery'' held on January 27, 2015. The purpose of 
the hearing was to launch an assessment of the rising costs of 
disasters, the cost effectiveness of disaster assistance, 
strategies to reduce disaster losses, and the appropriate roles 
of government and the private sector, and to consider reforms 
to save lives through improved alerts and warning systems and 
search and rescue.
    ``What is Driving the Increasing Costs and Rising Losses 
from Disasters?'' held on March 18, 2015. The purpose of the 
roundtable was to examine and discuss data related to disaster 
costs, the trends observed over time, and the projections for 
the future given the policies in place today.
    ``The State of Pennsylvania and FEMA Region III are Leaders 
in Mitigating Disaster Costs and Losses'' held on May 28, 2015. 
The purpose of the roundtable was to examine disaster costs and 
losses, focus on hazards impacting Pennsylvania and the region, 
and identify best practices for mitigating and avoiding 
disaster impacts.
    ``Federal Disaster Assistance: Roles, Programs and 
Coordination'' held on June 17, 2015. The purpose of the 
roundtable was to examine and discuss federal disaster 
assistance programs, the requirements and effectiveness of 
those programs, and coordination among various agencies and 
stakeholders.
    ``Controlling the Rising Cost of Federal Responses to 
Disaster'' held on May 12, 2016. The purpose of the hearing was 
to begin exploring potential solutions and the principles that 
should be driving solutions to lower the overall costs of 
disasters and to help avoid devastating losses.

                 LEGISLATIVE HISTORY AND CONSIDERATION

    On March 22, 2017, Congressman Garret Graves (R-LA) 
introduced H.R. 1679, a bill to ensure that FEMA's current 
efforts to modernize its grant management system includes 
applicant accessibility and transparency.
    On March 29, 2017, the Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure met in open session to consider H.R. 1679. The 
Committee ordered the bill reported favorably to the House by 
voice vote with a quorum present.

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires each committee report to include the 
total number of votes cast for and against on each record vote 
on a motion to report and on any amendment offered to the 
measure or matter, and the names of those members voting for 
and against. There were no recorded votes taken in connection 
with consideration of H.R. 1679 or ordering the measure 
reported. A motion to order H.R. 1679 reported favorably to the 
House was agreed to by voice vote with a quorum present.

                      COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(1) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in this report.

               NEW BUDGET AUTHORITY AND TAX EXPENDITURES

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives does not apply where a cost estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974 has been timely submitted prior to the filing of the 
report and is included in the report. Such a cost estimate is 
included in this report.

               CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

    With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1679 from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                       Washington, DC, May 2, 2017.
Hon. Bill Shuster,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1679, the FEMA 
Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Robert Reese.
            Sincerely,
                                                        Keith Hall.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 1679--FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 
        2017

    H.R. 1679 would require the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency (FEMA) to integrate three specific components into the 
agency's ongoing project to upgrade its grant management 
system. The bill also would direct FEMA to implement the new 
system incrementally.
    Under current law, FEMA is building a new information 
technology system that will streamline the application and 
approval process for more than 40 grants authorized under the 
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 
Act. The new system will integrate the grants into one grant-
management system, as opposed to the nine systems FEMA is 
currently using. FEMA expects to begin building the new system 
in 2018 and expects that it that will cost $105 million over a 
three-year period to build the system and $15 million each year 
thereafter to maintain.
    H.R. 1679 would direct FEMA to include in the new system:
           An online interface for applicants to 
        complete grant application forms,
           Mechanisms to eliminate duplication of grant 
        benefits, and
           The capability to share information among 
        other federal agencies and levels of government.
    Based on information provided by FEMA, CBO expects that the 
requirements outlined in H.R. 1679 will be met through the 
agency's current plans to upgrade its grants management system; 
therefore, CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 1679 would have 
no effect on the federal budget.
    Enacting H.R. 1679 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting H.R. 1679 would not increase net direct 
spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 
10-year periods beginning in 2028.
    H.R. 1679 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                    PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(4) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
performance goal and objective of this legislation is to ensure 
that FEMA's current efforts to modernize its grant management 
system include applicant accessibility and transparency.

                          ADVISORY OF EARMARKS

    Pursuant to clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives, the Committee is required to include a list 
of congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited 
tariff benefits as defined in clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of 
rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives. No 
provision in the bill includes an earmark, limited tax benefit, 
or limited tariff benefit under clause 9(e), 9(f), or 9(g) of 
rule XXI.

                    DUPLICATION OF FEDERAL PROGRAMS

    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(5) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that no provision 
of H.R. 1679 establishes or reauthorizes a program of the 
federal government known to be duplicative of another federal 
program, a program that was included in any report from the 
Government Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to 
section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program related to a 
program identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance.

                  DISCLOSURE OF DIRECTED RULE MAKINGS

    Pursuant to section 3(i) of H. Res. 5, 115th Cong. (2017), 
the Committee finds that enacting H.R. 1679 does not direct the 
completion of a specific rule making within the meaning of 
section 551 of title 5, United States Code.

                       FEDERAL MANDATE STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act (Public Law 104-4).

                        PREEMPTION CLARIFICATION

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 
requires the report of any Committee on a bill or joint 
resolution to include a statement on the extent to which the 
bill or joint resolution is intended to preempt state, local, 
or tribal law. The Committee states that H.R. 1679 does not 
preempt any state, local, or tribal law.

                      ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act are created by this 
legislation.

                  APPLICABILITY OF LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act (Public Law 
104-1).

               SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF LEGISLATION

Section 1: Short title

    Section 1 designates the short title as the ``FEMA 
Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017''.

Section 2: Requirements

    Section 2 articulates that FEMA's grant system must include 
an online interface, eliminate duplication of benefits, enable 
the sharing of information if appropriate, and facilitate other 
tools.

Section 3: No additional funds authorized

    Section 3 clarifies that no additional funds are authorized 
to carry out this Act.

         CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    H.R. 1679 makes no changes in existing law.

                                  [all]