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                                                     Calendar No. 223
115th Congress    }                       {                    Report
                              SENATE                        
 1st Session      }                       {                    115-159
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       


    FEMA ACCOUNTABILITY, MODERNIZATION AND TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2017

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

                   COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND

                          GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                              to accompany

                               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

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


               September 18, 2017.--Ordered to be printed
               
                               ______

                   U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 

69-010                     WASHINGTON : 2017 
 
               
               
                 
               
               
               
        COMMITTEE ON HOMELAND SECURITY AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

                    RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin, Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona                 CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio                    THOMAS R. CARPER, Delaware
RAND PAUL, Kentucky                  JON TESTER, Montana
JAMES LANKFORD, Oklahoma             HEIDI HEITKAMP, North Dakota
MICHAEL B. ENZI, Wyoming             GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
JOHN HOEVEN, North Dakota            MAGGIE HASSAN, New Hampshire
STEVE DAINES, Montana                KAMALA D. HARRIS, California

                  Christopher R. Hixon, Staff Director
                Gabrielle D'Adamo Singer, Chief Counsel
              Colleen E. Berny, Professional Staff Member
               Margaret E. Daum, Minority Staff Director
               Stacia M. Cardille, Minority Chief Counsel
       Charles A. Moskowitz, Minority Senior Legislative Counsel
                    Sue Ramanathan, Minority Counsel
Daniel J. Webb, Minority U.S. Government Accountability Office Detailee
                     Laura W. Kilbride, Chief Clerk


















 
 

                                                     Calendar No. 223
115th Congress    }                       {                    Report
                              SENATE                        
 1st Session      }                       {                    115-159
======================================================================



 
    FEMA ACCOUNTABILITY, MODERNIZATION AND TRANSPARENCY ACT OF 2017

                                _______
                                

               September 18, 2017.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Johnson, from the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
                    Affairs, 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 Homeland Security and Governmental 
Affairs, to which 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
  I. Purpose and Summary..............................................1
 II. Background and Need for the Legislation..........................2
III. Legislative History..............................................3
 IV. Section-by-Section Analysis......................................4
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................4
 VI. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................4
VII. Changes in Existing Law Made by the Act, as Reported.............5

                         I. PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H.R. 1679, the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and 
Transparency Act of 2017, establishes requirements for the 
Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) ongoing efforts to 
modernize its grant systems.
    The Act requires FEMA to implement improvements for 
administering disaster assistance grants, including an online 
interface for applicants; mechanisms to eliminate duplication 
of benefits; a means for the agency to share information with 
state, local, and tribal governments, if appropriate; and any 
additional tools to improve implementation that the FEMA 
Administrator deems necessary. The FEMA Administrator is 
responsible for delivering these capabilities in increments to 
the extent practicable.

              II. BACKGROUND AND THE NEED FOR LEGISLATION

Disaster and preparedness grants

    Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency 
Assistance (Stafford) Act,

        [t]he President can declare a major disaster for any 
        natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, 
        high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, 
        earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, 
        snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, 
        flood, or explosion, that the President determines has 
        caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the 
        combined capabilities of state and local governments to 
        respond.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance 
(Stafford) Act Sec. 102, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 5122 (2016); see also Fed. 
Emergency Mgmt. Agency, The Disaster Declaration Process, https://
www.fema.gov/disaster-declaration-process (last updated Apr. 6, 2017) 
[hereinafter The Disaster Declaration Process].

    The President may also issue emergency declarations, which 
``supplement State and local or Indian tribal government 
efforts in providing emergency services, such as the protection 
of lives, property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or 
avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United 
States.''\2\ FEMA coordinates the Federal response and is 
authorized under the Stafford Act to provide assistance to 
state governments, local governments, and individuals.\3\ After 
a major disaster declaration, grants that can be deployed, if 
they meet the requirements, include public assistance (PA), 
individual assistance, and hazard mitigation assistance.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\Stafford Act Sec. 502, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 5192 (2016); see also The 
Disaster Declaration Process, supra note 1.
    \3\Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 5121 et seq. (2016).
    \4\The Disaster Declaration Process, supra note 1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In addition to disaster assistance, ``FEMA provides state 
and local governments with preparedness program funding in the 
form of Preparedness (non-disaster) Grants to enhance the 
capacity of state and local emergency responders to prevent, 
respond to, and recover from a weapons of mass destruction 
terrorism incident involving chemical, biological, 
radiological, nuclear and other explosive devices, and cyber-
attacks.''\5\ FEMA Preparedness Grants include the Emergency 
Management Performance Grant Program; Homeland Security Grant 
Program; Intercity Bus Security Grant Program; Intercity 
Passenger Rail Security Grant Program; Nonprofit Security Grant 
Program; Port Security Grant Program; Tribal Homeland Security 
Grant Program; and Transit Security Grant Program.\6\ FEMA 
awards an average of $10 billion per year in disaster grants 
and preparedness grants.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, Preparedness (Non-Disaster) Grants, 
https://www.fema.gov/preparedness-non-disaster-grants (last updated 
July 20, 2017).
    \6\Id.
    \7\High Risk: Government Operations Susceptible to Waste, Fraud, 
and Mismanagement: Hearing Before the S. Comm. on Homeland Sec. & 
Governmental Affairs, 115th Cong. 8 (2017) (statement of John Roth, 
Inspector Gen., U.S. Dept. of Homeland Sec.), available at https://
www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/TM/2017/oigtm-jr-021517.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Grants management modernization

    The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of 
Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) have identified issues within FEMA grant programs 
and emphasized the need for a better grants management system. 
Earlier this year, the Inspector General testified before the 
Committee that although FEMA effectively responds to disasters, 
significant problems remain with its management of recovery 
grants.\8\ According to the Inspector General, FEMA has not 
held grantees accountable for managing subgrantees.\9\ As a 
result, ``the entire layer of oversight intended to monitor the 
billions of dollars awarded by FEMA in disaster assistance 
grants is ineffective, inefficient, and vulnerable to fraud, 
waste, and abuse.''\10\ In addition, the GAO has identified 
numerous issues and challenges with disaster grants, including 
inconsistencies in PA project approvals across regions and 
project closeout timeframes.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\Id. at 9.
    \9\Id.
    \10\Id.
    \11\U.S. Gov't Accountability Office, Disaster Recovery: FEMA's 
Public Assistance Grant Program Experienced Challenges with Gulf Coast 
Rebuilding (Dec. 18, 2008), https://www.gao.gov/assets/290/284493.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The DHS OIG has also identified issues within the FEMA 
Preparedness Grants program. For example, the DHS OIG found 
that FEMA had not sufficiently examined recurring 
recommendations because they ``did not clearly communicate 
internal roles and responsibilities and did not have policies 
and procedures to conduct substantive trend analyses of audit 
recommendations.''\12\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\Statement of John Roth, supra note 7, at 9.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2015, FEMA implemented the Grants Management 
Modernization program to improve the efficiency and 
effectiveness of FEMA's grant operations.\13\ The purpose of 
the program is to streamline the agency's 40-plus grant 
programs into a single grants management information technology 
platform.\14\ Also, when possible, it intends to provide 
unified business processes and a common grants management life 
cycle.\15\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \13\Fed. Emergency Mgmt. Agency, The Grants Management 
Modernization Program, https://www.fema.gov/grants-management-
modernization-program (last updated Aug. 3, 2017).
    \14\Id. 
    \15\Id. 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    To help ensure FEMA's grants modernization effort 
continues, this legislation directs FEMA to integrate 
improvements for administering disaster assistance grants, 
including an online interface for applicants; mechanisms to 
eliminate duplication of benefits; a means for agencies to 
share information with state, local, and tribal governments, if 
appropriate; and any additional tools to improve implementation 
the FEMA Administrator deems necessary.

                        III. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

    Representative Garret Graves (R-LA) introduced H.R. 1679, 
the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 
2017, on March 22, 2017. The bill passed the House on May 2, 
2017.
    The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security 
and Governmental Affairs. The Committee considered H.R. 1679 at 
a business meeting on July 26, 2017. The Committee favorably 
reported the bill by voice vote en bloc. Senators present for 
the vote were Johnson, Portman, Lankford, Daines, McCaskill, 
Tester, Heitkamp, Peters, Hassan, and Harris.

        IV. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS OF THE ACT, AS REPORTED

Section 1: Short title

    This section provides the Act's short title, the ``FEMA 
Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017''.

Sec. 2. Requirements

    Section 2 ensures that the ongoing modernization of FEMA's 
grant systems includes improvements for administering disaster 
assistance grants, including an online interface; mechanisms to 
eliminate duplication of benefits; enables agencies to share 
information with state, local, and tribal governments, if 
appropriate; and facilitates any additional tools to improve 
implementation that the FEMA Administrator deems necessary.

Sec. 3. No additional funds authorized

    This section states that no additional funds are authorized 
to carry out this Act.

                   V. EVALUATION OF REGULATORY IMPACT

    Pursuant to the requirements of paragraph 11(b) of rule 
XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee has 
considered the regulatory impact of this Act and determined 
that the Act will have no regulatory impact within the meaning 
of the rules. The Committee agrees with the Congressional 
Budget Office's statement that the Act contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs 
on state, local, or tribal governments.

             VI. CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

                                                    August 4, 2017.
Hon. Ron Johnson,
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, 
        United States Senate, 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 act 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.
    On May 2, 2017, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R. 
1679, the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency 
Act of 2017, as ordered reported by the House Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure on March 29, 2017. The two 
versions of the legislation are similar and CBO's estimates of 
their budgetary effects are the same.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

       VII. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE ACT, AS REPORTED

    Because this legislation would not repeal or amend any 
provision of current law, it would not make changes in existing 
law within the meaning of clauses (a) and (b) of paragraph 12 
of rule XXVI of the Standing Rules of the Senate.

                                  [all]