FEMA Public Assistance (PA) is a federal grant program designed to fund the repair, restoration, reconstruction or replacement of eligible public facilities and infrastructure damaged or destroyed in a disaster. The following is a brief overview of the PA process, which can take up to three years to complete.
- Eligible applicants include: state and local governments, any other political subdivision of the state, Native American tribes and certain private non-profit (PNP) organizations.
- PNP organizations, facilities and services must meet additional requirements beyond those that apply to governmental applicants.
- Eligible PNPs include educational, utility, irrigation, emergency, medical, rehabilitation, temporary or permanent custodial care facilities and critical service providers.
- PNPs providing critical services (power, water – including water provided by an irrigation organization or facility – sewer, wastewater treatment, communications, educational services, and emergency medical care) may apply directly to FEMA for a disaster grant.
- All other PNPs must first apply to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for a disaster loan. If SBA loans are declined or do not cover all eligible damages, applicants may re-apply for FEMA assistance.
Roles and Responsibilities
- FEMA is responsible for managing the PA program, approving grants and providing technical assistance to the state and applicants.
- The state, in most cases, acts as the grantee; the applicant is considered the sub-grantee. FEMA, the state and the applicant are all responsible for grants awarded under the PA program.
- The state educates potential applicants, works with FEMA to manage the program, and is responsible for implementing and monitoring the grants.
- Local officials are responsible for identifying damage, providing sufficient data for FEMA to develop an accurate scope and cost of work and approve grants, and managing the projects funded under the PA program.
- Applicants are responsible for providing receipts and other required documentation (proof of eligible work performed).
- PA grant money can only be obligated by FEMA after:
- All required documentation is submitted.
- The project worksheet is approved by both FEMA and the state.
- Federal Share
- The federal share of project cost in most disasters is 75 percent – with the state and applicant covering the remaining 25 percent.
- Funding is broken down into two categories: Small Projects and Large Projects.
- For Small Projects – less than $63,200 – payment of the federal share of the estimated cost is made upon project approval with no further accounting to FEMA required.
- For Large Projects – $63,200 and greater – payment is made on the basis of actual costs determined after the project is completed.
- After a federal disaster declaration is issued by the president, the state, assisted by FEMA, conducts applicant briefings to inform potential applicants about the assistance available and how to apply for it.
- A request for PA must be filed with the state within 30 days after the area is designated eligible for assistance.
- A Kickoff Meeting is then held by FEMA with each individual applicant to discuss damages, assess needs and develop a plan of action – or project formulation.
- A combined federal/state/local team proceeds with project formulation. This includes documenting the eligible fac...