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FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program: Overview and Issues
Francis X. McCarthy (au)
This report discusses Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM), as federal law and a program activity, which began in 1997. Congress established a pilot program, which the Fed. Emergency Mgt. Agency (FEMA) named “Project Impact,” to test the concept of investing prior to disasters to reduce the vulnerability of communities to future disasters. P.L. 106-390, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, authorized the PDM program in law as Section 203 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. From its beginnings as “Project Impact” to its current state, the PDM program has grown in its level of appropriated resources and the scope of participation nationwide. Along with that growth have come issues for Congressional consideration, including the approach for awarding grant funds, the eligibility of certain applicants, the eligibility of certain projects, the degree of commitment by state and local governments, and related questions. Authorization for the PDM program expires on Sept. 30, 2009. In the 111th Congress, Representative Oberstar and other sponsors introduced H.R. 1746 to re-authorize the program for an additional three years at $250 million per year and to remove the sunset provision. The bill would also increase the minimum amount each state can receive from $500,000 to$575,000. H.R. 1746 includes provisions that have been part of appropriations statutes that award funds both through a formula (with, as noted, a minimum amount available per state) as well as a competitive process for the majority of the funds. H.R. 1746 was approved by the Transportation and Infrastructure Comm. on April 2 and was approved by the House under suspension of the rules on April 27, 2009. It is notable that the Admin.’s budget for FY2010 requests that the competitive process be dropped in favor of a risk-based assessment by FEMA. Congress may wish to hear more regarding the risk-based allocation formula before enacting the authorizing legislation for the coming years. Tables.
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