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Debris Monitoring

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When a disaster event occurs that produces large amounts of debris, effective coordination is required between the Public Assistance applicant, State, and FEMA to ensure that debris removal operations are efficient, effective, and eligible for FEMA Public Assistance grant funding. Eligible Public Assistance applicants are encouraged to monitor debris removal operations and document eligible quantities and reasonable expenses to ensure that the work is eligible for Public Assistance grant funding. Failure to do so properly may jeopardize this funding.

Public Assistance applicants can use force account resources or contractors to monitor debris removal operations, or a combination of both. Regardless of the method, the applicant is responsible for ensuring that applicant-managed debris removal work (either force account or contract) being funded through Public Assistance grants is eligible in accordance with Public Assistance guidelines. This Fact Sheet provides Public Assistance applicants with information on how to properly monitor applicant-managed debris removal operations to ensure compliance with these guidelines. It also provides information on debris monitoring responsibilities and duties that apply to both force account and contractor operations; however, some information provided only applies to debris operations performed under contract.

Debris Monitoring Roles and Responsibilities

Monitoring debris removal operations requires comprehensive observation and documentation by the Public Assistance applicant of debris removal work performed from the point of debris collection to final disposal. Monitoring debris removal work involves constant observation of crews to ensure that workers are performing eligible work in accordance with Public Assistance guidelines, and helps to verify compliance with all applicable Federal, State, and local regulations.

A number of different entities play a role in monitoring debris removal operations to ensure that they are efficient, effective and eligible for FEMA Public Assistance funding. It is important that these entities work together to communicate and resolve issues in the field so that reimbursement funding for debris removal operations is not jeopardized. Below is a table which addresses the general monitoring responsibilities and tasks of different partners in the debris removal operation. The table is followed by specific monitoring responsibilities and duties for both force account and contractor debris monitors in the field.

Debris Removal ContractorConduct debris removal operations per the terms of the contract.
  • Monitor its own day-to-day operations to ensure its contractual obligations are being met.
Public Assistance Applicant Monitoring ContractorWorks for Applicant to monitor debris contractor's day-to-day operations to ensure the applicants expectations and contractual requirements are being met.
  • Provide debris monitoring personnel who are trained in eligibility.
  • Monitor operations in accordance with the contract requirements.
  • Provide all monitoring documents as required in the monitoring contract.
Public Assistance Applicant (subgrantee)Provide oversight and quality assurance of both the debris removal contract and the monitoring contract (if applicable). Request PA funds for eligible work. Ensure performance measures are met and eligible work is documented. Understand eligibility requirements and ensure work performed under the contract meets these requirements.
  • Designate project manager.
    If debris removal is performed by force account labor:
  • Provide documentation to substantiate eligible debris quantities.
  • Ensure compliance with subgrant requirements.
    If debris removal is performed under contract:
  • Ensure that debris removal contractors and monitoring contractors (if applicable) understand eligibility requirements for the debris removal operations.
  • Ensure that only eligible debris quantities are being claimed for Public Assistance.
  • Resolve issues or discrepancies associated with the contract.
State (Grantee)Ensure grant requirements outlined in the 44 CFR are being met and that PA applicants are receiving funds for eligible costs. Responsible for monitoring the grant and subgrant to ensure compliance with Federal, State and local laws and regulations.
  • Monitor the grant and subgrant requirements.
  • Ensure that the applicant is sufficiently monitoring the debris removal operation (FEMA\Grantee effort).
  • Conduct random monitoring at load sites and disposal sites to ensure compliance with grant requirements (FEMA\Grantee effort).
  • Notify subgrantee of compliance issues and outline corrective actions (FEMA\Grantee effort).
FEMAEnsure grant requirements outlined in 44 CFR are being met. Fund eligible work. Responsible for the preparation of large project worksheets, development of the scope of work and the obligation of funds. Responsible for monitoring the grant to ensure compliance with Federal, State and local laws and regulations.
  • Develop large project worksheets in coordination with the Grantee and subgrantee.
  • Utilize monitors to ensure that the applicant is sufficiently monitoring the debris removal operation. (FEMA\Grantee effort)
  • Conduct random monitoring at load sites and disposal sites to ensure compliance with grant requirements. (FEMA\Grantee effort).
  • Notify Grantee/subgrantee of compliance issues and outline corrective actions (FEMA\Grantee effort).
  • Increase or decrease monitoring efforts as necessary to ensure corrective actions are in place and operations are being effectively monitored.

The specific responsibilities and duties of individual debris monitors in the field are the same for both force account and contracted debris monitoring operations. They are:

  • Report issues to their direct supervisor which require action (such as safety concerns, contractor non-compliance and equipment use)

  • Accurately measure and certify truck capacities (recertify on a regular basis)

  • Properly and accurately complete and physically control load tickets (in tower and field)

  • Ensure that trucks are accurately credited for their load

  • Ensure that trucks are not artificially loaded (ex: debris is wetted, debris is fluffed-not compacted)

  • Validate hazardous trees, including hangers, leaners, and stumps

  • Ensure that hazardous wastes are not mixed in loads

  • Ensure that all debris is removed from trucks at Debris Management Sites (DMS)

  • Report if improper equipment is mobilized and used

  • Report if contractor personnel safety standards are not followed

  • Report if general public safety standards are not followed

  • Report if completion schedules are not on target

  • Ensure that only debris specified in the contract is collected (and is identified as eligible or ineligible)

  • Assure that force account labor and/or debris contractor work is within the assigned scope of work

  • Monitor site development and restoration of DMSs

  • Report to supervisor if debris removal work does not comply with all local ordinances as well as State and Federal regulations (i.e., proper disposal of hazardous wastes)

  • Record the types of equipment used (Time & Materials contract)

  • Record the hours equipment was used, include downtime of each piece of equipment by day (Time & Materials contract)


Applicants may request FEMA/State assistance with debris monitoring or monitor training.

Only FEMA has the authority to make eligibility decisions; contractors cannot make eligibility determinations. Information on eligibility can be found in the Public Assistance Debris Management Guide FEMA 325, the Public Assistance Policy Digest FEMA 321, the Public Assistance Applicant Handbook FEMA 323, and the Public Assistance Guide FEMA 322.

Monitoring Requirements by Type of Contract

Unlike other categories of work eligible for Public Assistance grants, initial debris removal project worksheets typically do not have a defined scope of work, since precise quantities of debris are difficult to attain. Therefore, unit price contracts which pay by debris volume or weight removed are typically implemented. Unit price contracts require extensive monitoring to determine accurate quantities of eligible debris removed and disposed. As load tickets are compiled and accurate quantities are determined through monitoring, the scope of work for the project worksheet, or version, is established.

In some cases, time and materials contracts may be more cost effective and appropriate for the amount and type of eligible work to be performed. For both time and materials and lump sum contracts, debris monitors must still document and quantify eligible debris amounts in order to determine reasonableness of costs.

The table below includes a breakdown of monitoring requirements by contract type.

Type of ContractProject Worksheet Scope of WorkSubgrantee Monitoring RequiredComments
Crew Efficiency
Load site
Disposal sites
Lump SumDefined debris quantities and reasonable costs. Estimate is basis for contract costs. 
 Quantities are still required to determine reasonable costs.
Unit Price - CYsBased on eligible debris listed on load tickets
Unit Price - TonBased on actual weight measurements of eligible debris listed on load tickets. 
Time and MaterialsBased on labor, equipment and materials records. Reasonable costs evaluated by determining costs per unit.
Typically used for road clearance. If used for debris removal, quantities are still required to determine reasonable costs. Eligible costs are restricted to up to 70 hours.

Monitoring Contracts

The request for proposal (RFP) for debris monitoring contracts should outline the qualification of debris monitors. The qualifications should be appropriate for the individual responsibilities and duties listed above, and debris monitors should have experience working on construction sites and be familiar with safety regulations. It is not necessary to have professional engineers and other certified professionals perform these duties. Debris monitors primarily should have the ability to estimate debris quantities, differentiate between debris types, properly fill out load tickets, and follow all site safety procedures.

The RFP should also outline possible locations to be monitored and reporting requirements to document eligible debris quantities.

Monitoring contracts are typically time and materials and must contain a not-to-exceed clause per the requirements of Part 13 of 44 CFR. The subgrantee should ensure the level of monitoring and overhead claimed is commensurate with the level of effort required to effectively monitor the debris removal and monitoring operation. In addition to the costs for the monitors, the subgrantee can claim as part of its monitoring project worksheet reasonable costs for the debris monitoring contractor to provide training, oversight, and data compilation as required by the terms of the contract. Architectural and engineering service overhead should not be claimed. Additional information on costs that are eligible can be found in the Public Assistance Debris Management Guide FEMA 325.

The monitoring contractor costs associated with compiling data to verify costs invoiced by the debris removal contractor can be an eligible expense. Costs associated with attending meetings with FEMA and/or the Grantee and compiling documentation for the production of project worksheets are funded through the administrative allowance as stated in 44 CFR, Part 206.228 and cannot be a direct charge to a Public Assistance grant.

Reporting Requirements & Performance Measures

If FEMA is providing grant assistance for the applicant's monitoring contract, a sample of the reporting requirements outlined in the contract will be required to substantiate the eligible costs. This sample must be adequate to demonstrate that sufficient measures were taken to ensure eligibility and accurate quantities are being reported as part of the grant. Applicants should require debris monitors to submit daily reports on load quantities, debris management site operations, and operational and safety issues in the field. Regular reporting helps to promote quality assurance and provides the applicant with a consistent accounting of operations in the field.

If a time and materials monitoring contract is used, the contractor will have to supply labor, equipment and material records to the subgrantee in order to substantiate the actual costs in the project worksheet.

Continuous monitoring of all activities of a debris contractor can help promote efficiency and effectiveness in the debris removal operation. In evaluating a contractor's performance, primary interest is in the progress toward completion of the services called for and the financial status of the contract. It is important that the contract provide for submission of reports and payment estimates to aid in evaluating the contractor's progress.

Applicant debris monitoring responsibilities may include tracking performance measures used to assess the progress of debris removal operations in the field. Specific debris contract performance measures may include:

  • Percentage completion tracking

  • Adherence to contract time schedules

  • Adherence to contract cost schedules

Contract Procurement Requirements

To be eligible for reimbursement under the Public Assistance Program, contracts for debris monitoring must meet rules for Federal grants, as provided for in 44 CFR Part 13.36 Procurement. Public Assistance applicants should comply with their own procurement procedures in accordance with applicable State and local laws and regulations, provided that they conform to applicable Federal laws and standards identified in Part 13.

Fact Sheet 9580.203 - Debris Monitoring-- PDF 370KB

Last Updated: 
02/12/2015 - 16:05