GAO report finds opportunities for cost efficiency by FEMA

Total Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) obligations for 650 major disasters declared during fiscal years 2004-2013 by Federal Emergency Management Agency cost category | U.S. Government Accountability Office

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report released on Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has plenty of leeway to drastically reduce its administrative costs. 

FEMA utilized $12.7 billion from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for administrative costs between 2004 and 2013, the report stated. This was 13 percent of the DRF, which equaled $95.2 billion for the 650 major disasters declared during this time period.

The report also stated that the average cost for FEMA administration during major disasters was twice that of the previous 10-year period.

FEMA had already addressed reducing its administrative costs, including creating cost targets and setting a specific financial goal in a recent strategic plan.

Meeting those targets and goals is optional, though, and the GAO said had they not been FEMA would have saved a substantial amount on administrative costs. 

The GAO report also said FEMA does not monitor the costs associated with administration by each occurrence of a disaster, nor has the agency considered this approach.

The report provided recommendations for the agency to increase the efficiency of its administrative costs and to reduce them overall. It recommended the implementation of a plan to reduce costs with respect to major disasters, to assess the costs versus benefits of tracking administrative costs and to clarify minimum documentation requirements to ensure cost reduction.

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Center for Domestic Preparedness - FEMA 61 Responder Dr. Anniston, AL 36205

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