Public Assistance Overview

Public Assistance

The Public Assistance Program coordinates FEMA grants awarded to state and local governmental entities and certain private nonprofits for response to and recovery from disasters.  The Public Assistance Program provides assistance for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and permanent restoration of damaged infrastructure.  Typically, FEMA will provide at least 75% of the eligible repair costs. 

  • FEMA is responsible for managing the PA Program, approving grants and providing technical assistance to the State and applicants. 
  • The KYEM Recovery Branch acts as the Grantee for the PA Program by educating potential applicants, managing applicant files, distributing funds to applicants, and facilitating disputes between applicants and FEMA. 

Applicants are responsible for maintaining accurate supporting documentation, complying with federal and state program requirements, and completing projects according to designated scopes of work. 

Link to KYEM’s website for a full overview, forms and links:  Public Assistance (PA) Program.

What is Public Assistance?

Public Assistance provides disaster grant assistance to recipients and sub-recipients to help communities quickly respond to and recover from major disasters or emergencies. 

Funding may be made available for emergency actions taken in response to a disaster and for work done to repair or replace damaged public infrastructure.  Funding is reimbursed to approved applicants as eligible costs are incurred. 

The 406 grant is managed by the State under funding provided for in the Stafford Act.  Section 406 mitigation measures are funded under the Public Assistance, or Infrastructure, program (PA).

The 406 funding provides discretionary authority to fund mitigation measures in conjunction with the repair of the disaster-damaged facilities, so is limited to declared counties and eligible damaged facilities.

Section 406 is applied on the parts of the facility that were damaged by the disaster and the mitigation measure directly reduce the potential of future, similar disaster damages to the eligible facility.

Link to KYEM’s Public Assistance Overview for Local Officials two-page Fact Sheet that explains it all.

FEMA PA 406 Mitigation Brochure

The FEMA PA 406 Mitigation Brochure provides information on FEMA Public Assistance mitigation funding, eligibility requirements, examples of mitigation projects, and where to go for more guidance. This four-page brochure covers it all.

FEMA Public Assistance Mitigation

FEMA Publishes New Public Assistance Policy

November 6, 2019

On Nov. 6, FEMA published “Consensus-Based Codes, Specifications and Standards for Public Assistance.” The policy is meant to increase the resiliency of communities post disaster and support the efficient use of federal funds from FEMA’s Public Assistance program, while reducing future vulnerabilities.

The purpose of this policy is to define the framework and requirements for consistent and appropriate implementation of consensus-based design, construction and maintenance codes, specifications and standards for Public Assistance per Section 1235(b) of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018.

Disasters declared on or after the date of this interim policy must apply the relevant consensus-based codes, specifications and standards.  The permanent work projects include buildings, electric power, roads, bridges, potable water and wastewater.  Applicants who fall into any of the following categories have 60 days following date of policy publication to opt-in to the guidelines of this interim policy:

  • Incidents declared between Aug. 1, 2017, and the date of policy publication;
  • Projects for incidents declared before Aug. 1, 2017, but without an obligation based on a finalized cost estimate as of the date of policy publication; or
  • Projects associated with a cost estimate on appeal as of the date of policy publication.

Applicants wishing to opt-in must make their determination no later than January 5, 2020.  The applicants will need to contact their FEMA Regional Recovery Office and complete the opt-in notification form included in Appendix B of the policy.

After a Disaster: Recovery Assistance for Emergency Service Organizations

February 19, 2019

The FEMA Public Assistance grant program helps emergency service organizations with funding to repair and rebuild facilities after a disaster.  The days following a presidentially declared disaster can be overwhelming for those left to pick up the pieces of their lives.  Disaster survivors who need information on grant programs for homeowners and renters can apply for assistance from FEMA.  However, what about public facilities like your fire or Emergency Medical Services (EMS) departments that are damaged by a disaster?

Good news: FEMA is also there for your emergency services department to help you repair or rebuild your facility.

Your organization may receive FEMA Public Assistance funding for:

  • Debris removal (tree limbs, branches, stumps or trees that are still in place but damaged to the extent they pose an immediate threat).
  • Emergency protective measures (pre-positioning equipment, use of temporary generators and security, such as barricades).
  • Repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities, equipment and apparatus.
  • Eligible costs associated with mutual aid.

In most situations, your headquarters, emergency operations center, dispatch center and other response systems will have the documentation needed to support requests for reimbursement costs.

How much will FEMA pay?  FEMA’s share of assistance is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost.  The recipient (usually your state) determines how the nonfederal share (up to 25 percent) is split with a sub recipient (your organization).  Volunteer work and donated equipment, supplies and resources may be used to offset the nonfederal share of eligible costs.

Learn more about eligibility, guidelines and the application process for Public Assistance from FEMA.


Top 10 Grant Procurement Mistakes

October 7, 2017

Completing a Grant/  Use this checklist to ensure you aren’t making the most common mistakes.

Top 10 Procurement Mistakes Leading to Audits and Potential Loss of FEMA Public Assistance Grant Funding

  1. Engaging in a noncompetitive procurement (i.e., sole-sourcing) without carefully documenting how the situation has created an urgent need to perform the works sooner than a competitive procurement process would allow.
  2. Continuing work under a sole-source contract after the urgent need (see #1) has ended, instead of transitioning to a competitively procured contract.
  3. Piggybacking onto another jurisdiction’s contract in a situation that doesn’t allow noncompetitive procurement (see #1) or where the other contract is materially different in terms of scope or requirements. Piggybacking is rarely allowable.
  4. Awarding a “time-and-materials” contract without a ceiling price that the contractor exceeds at its own risk and without documenting why no other contract type is suitable.
  5. Awarding a “cost-plus-percentage-of-cost” or “percentage-of-construction-cost” contract.
  6. Not including the required contract clauses (available online at the below website under “PDAT Resources” menu).
  7. Including a geographic preference in a solicitation (i.e., giving an advantage to local firms).
  8. Not making and documenting efforts to solicit small businesses, minority businesses, and woman’s business enterprises.
  9. Conducting a procurement exceeding $150,000 without conducting a detailed cost or price analysis.
  10. Not carefully documenting all steps of a procurement to create a record if questions arise potentially years later.

For further information on FEMA grant procurement requirements, including contract review checklists, detailed guidance on the above topics, and online webinar training classes, please visit