Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 Overview

Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018

On Oct. 5, 2018, President Trump signed the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 into law as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018. These reforms acknowledge the shared responsibility for disaster response and recovery, aim to reduce the complexity of FEMA, and build the nation’s capacity for the next catastrophic event.

The law contains approximately 50 provisions that require FEMA policy or regulation changes for full implementation, as they amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

More Information, Link to https://www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-reform-act-2018 and find a summary of each section of the act, as well as the status on FEMA’s implementation.  In total, the law contains more than 50 provisions that require FEMA policy or regulation changes for full implementation.  To view a summary of all the changes in DRRA, click HERE.

FEMA Announces Interim Management Costs Policies

November 15, 2018

FEMA released two interim polices Nov. 15 as part of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA) implementation. On Oct. 5, 2018, President Trump signed the DRRA into law.  The legislation contains critical reforms to federal disaster programs. 

To begin implementation of these reforms, both the FEMA Public Assistance Management Costs (Interim) Policy and the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Management Costs (Interim) Policy are now available. Follow the linked Policy titles.

Both policies will offer greater flexibility to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and may allow more funding to manage Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Public Assistance programs.  Under these interim policies, state, local, tribal, and territorial partners may be allowed higher rates of reimbursement for their management costs when implementing Public Assistance (12 percent) and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program projects (15 percent).

The DRRA defines management costs as indirect costs, direct administrative costs, and any other administrative expenses for a specific project.  These policies will help to simplify the delivery of FEMA’s programs and provides incentives for recipients to practice efficient grants management and complete activities in a timely manner

FEMA worked to develop the interim policies shortly after the law was passed to provide immediate guidance to grant recipients and subrecipients on how they may benefit from the changes to reimbursement for management costs.  FEMA is working through implementation guidance for both interim policies.

How does the administrations recent budget proposal impact DRRA funding sources? 

Funding levels for mitigation are expected to increase. Some new legislation signed in 2018, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act, authorized the National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation fund (Section 1234). This fund will be funded through the Disaster Relief Fund as a six percent set aside from estimated disaster grant expenditures.

This allows for a greater investment in mitigation before a disaster. This new program is named Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC). FEMA is conducting outreach on developing and implementing the BRIC program right now, with a goal of providing Notice of Funding opportunities in the Winter of 2020.

Similarly, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and other water funding sources are also on the rise. In 2018, over $5 billion in loans and guarantees were authorized. Green Infrastructure and similar water quality approaches are encouraged to be part of the solution to water infrastructure.

Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Grant Program

Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), focuses on reducing the nation’s risk by funding public infrastructure projects that increase a community’s resilience before a disaster affects an area.

As a federal disaster mitigation program, BRIC allows FEMA to invest grant monies in infrastructure projects before a disaster affects an area.  Examples of interest areas include infrastructure mitigation projects; hazard mitigation planning; building codes and enforcement; and risk informed funding.

DRRA Section 1231 Fact Sheet: Acquisition of Property for Open Space and Policy Clarification

October 2019

Through its Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs, FEMA funds the voluntary acquisition of hazard-prone properties from private owners.  Property acquisition is not new for FEMA; however, DRRA Section 1231 contains new requirements for the project notification process and emphasizes a community’s responsibilities regarding acquired land.

The newly released DRRA Section 1231 Fact Sheet outlines these new requirements for state, tribal, territorial and local governments and supplements existing FEMA guidance on property acquisition projects per the DRRA.

FEMA also released a policy clarification on the Eligibility of Hazard Mitigation Assistance Applications with Pre-Award Demolitions.  This policy clarifies that when private individuals have demolished damaged structures using private funds or other non-federal funds prior to application for HMA funding, the properties will now be eligible for inclusion in HMA project applications if the demolition is not connected to the project.  The demolition costs cannot be included in the project application.