Summary: The Los Angeles County Courts (County) Alhambra Municipal Court Building was damaged as a result of the Northridge Earthquake. A post earthquake inspection documented damage throughout the building but the only significant structural damage evident was in the elevator penthouse. DSR 07421 was prepared for $2,240 to fund an Architectural and Engineering (A&E) study to determine the full extent of damages to the penthouse only and to recommend repair alternatives. The County did not concur with the scope of the DSR and requested that the DSR fund a study of the entire building, not just the penthouse. However, FEMA ruled that a study of the entire building was not warranted given minor apparent damage to the rest of the building. The County contracted a structural consulting firm to study the damaged penthouse, and recommend repair alternatives and determine costs. As a result of this A&E study, a separate DSR (63081) was obligated for $53,904 to fund the repairs to the elevator penthouse. The County submitted a request for a supplement to DSR 07421 in the amount of $27,585 to cover the actual costs of the A&E study of the elevator penthouse ($29,825). FEMA prepared DSR 33432 for $27,585 to fund the actual costs, however, during review the DSR was denied because FEMA believed that the study had been performed on the entire building and not just the penthouse. The County submitted a first appeal documenting that the A&E study had only been performed on the penthouse. In its response to the first appeal, FEMA agreed that the study had been of the penthouse only, but denied funding of the DSR because the A&E costs were deemed unreasonable (more than 50% of the repair costs). In its second appeal, the County has stated that the study costs were reasonable and actual, and has submitted documentation including the A&E report, and provides the hours billed per task by its consultant engineers and architects, as well as prevailing earthquake engineering rates for the Los Angeles area.
Was an A&E study of the elevator penthouse eligible for FEMA funding?
Is the $29,825 cost for the A&E study, fully eligible, given the hourly breakdown provided by the County?
Yes. FEMA funded an A&E study of the elevator penthouse in order to determine the extent of damages and to recommend repairs options and estimate costs.
No. The hourly breakdown of costs for the A&E study reflect an excessive amount of involvement of senior personnel, and disciplines that were not necessary at every phase of the study. The damage was relatively minor, readily apparent, and predominantly to exposed light steel framing members and wall facades that could have been assessed for less cost. FEMA has determined a reasonable A&E study cost to be $12,341.
Rationale: Pursuant to the FEMA Public Assistance Guide, FEMA will pay for reasonable and actual costs incurred for basic engineering services.