New Arbitration Panels for FEMA Public Assistance Program Concerning Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

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Release date: 
August 6, 2009
Release Number: 

On August 6, Secretary Napolitano announced a new arbitration process to expedite resolution of outstanding Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance projects stemming from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The new arbitration process is designed to further recovery efforts by providing final adjudication of disputes arising from Public Assistance projects by an independent, neutral panel of arbitrators.

The following are frequently asked questions regarding the arbitration panels.

What matters are eligible for review by an arbitration panel?

A panel may review and decide only those disputes involving Public Assistance projects in excess of $500,000 arising from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf Coast states of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

In addition, and for a limited time, applicants who had a first or second appeal pending before FEMA on or after the effective date of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e., February 17, 2009) may avail themselves of review of their dispute by an arbitration panel, even if a final written decision has since been rendered by FEMA.? However, disputes that received a final written decision from FEMA on a second appeal before February 17, 2009 are not eligible for review by an arbitration panel.?

Who can request review by an Arbitration Panel?

Any eligible applicant for federal Public Assistance funding who disputes a FEMA project eligibility determination and/or amount of the project award and who is eligible to avail themselves of the FEMA appeals process may request review of that matter by an arbitration panel instead.?

How does this new arbitration process relate to the current administrative appeals process?

The arbitration process is in lieu of the current administrative appeals process.? If an applicant requests arbitration, the applicant is agreeing to forgo seeking a formal appeal.? However, applicants who have an appeal currently pending may for a limited time elect to withdraw that appeal and have the matter reviewed by an arbitration panel. ?Such applicants will need to elect to do so by October 30, 2009.

When and how does one request review by an arbitration panel?

Within 30 days of notice of a FEMA eligibility determination and/or award, an applicant must make a written request for arbitration, with supporting documentation, to the arbitration administrator (while simultaneously submitting the request to the state and the appropriate FEMA regional administrator).? Within 15 days of receiving the applicant?s request, the State may submit a written recommendation to the arbitration administrator.? The parties must submit filings by either courier or overnight delivery service.? All overnight deliveries, except by the United States Postal Service (USPS), should be addressed to CBCA?s street address (Sixth Floor 1800 M Street, NW Washington, DC 20036).? USPS overnight deliveries must be addressed to the CBCA mailing address (1800 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20405). The CBCA requires that each party submit three copies of all filings to the CBCA, and one copy each to the other parties.

Applicants who currently have an appeal pending may, for a limited time, elect to withdraw that appeal and request to have the matter reviewed by an arbitration panel.? Such applicants will need to elect to do so by October 30, 2009.

Additional information regarding requests can be found at

How many panels are there and who sits on an arbitration panel?

Multiple third-party, neutral panels will be established as the caseload dictates.? Each arbitration panel will consist of three arbitrators, independent from DHS, drawn from the federal pool of administrative l...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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