FEMA Releases Public Assistance Simplified Procedures Policy

FEMA Advisory

On January 9, 2023, FEMA released the Public Assistance Simplified Procedures policy that simplifies the implementation of the Public Assistance program to support the rapid recovery of applicants. FEMA will offer several webinars in the coming weeks.

The policy released on January 9 simplifies procedures and streamlines documentation requirements for applicants under the Public Assistance program. This policy release follows the August 2022 announcement to increase the threshold for small projects to $1 million.

PA Simplified Procedures Policy

The policy simplifies procedures, reduces administrative burdens, supports equitable delivery of assistance to underserved communities, and enables communities to recover more quickly after Presidentially declared events. The policy defines FEMA’s requirements for funding small projects and it applies to all public assistance projects under $1 million from major disasters and emergencies declared on or after the date of issuance.FEMA will accept estimates with summary information and the applicant’s certifications for damage and work, instead of requiring applicants to provide full or detailed documentation.

Section 422 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act allows FEMA to implement simplified procedures for projects below an established threshold. Congress authorized simplified procedures in 1988 to support program efficiency and allow lower dollar projects the opportunity to get recovery funding faster, setting the small project maximum at $35,000.

After the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act in January 2013, FEMA completed an analysis of the program in 2015 and adjusted the threshold to $120,000. FEMA conducted another review in 2020, showing 77 percent of projects were considered small, and that if a $1 million threshold were applied, 94 percent of projects would be small and help put additional recovery dollars in the hands of applicants faster.

In August 2022, FEMA published a final rule to increase the small project maximum for the agency’s program to $1 million to reduce the administrative burden on state, local, tribal, or territorial governments and private non-profits receiving FEMA financial grants following a disaster. A small project has costs below the threshold, while a large project has costs equal to or above the $1 million threshold.

National emergency management partners have supported FEMA in issuing this policy to reduce administrative burdens, more efficiently use resources, simplify the program for smaller applicants with smaller dollar projects, and speed up the closure of projects.

The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA is committed to providing equitable and accessible recovery support to affected communities. FEMA will continue adjusting the threshold annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers and review the base threshold every three years.

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