On January 29, 2013, President Obama signed into law the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. This law amends Title IV of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.). Specifically, the law adds section 428, which authorizes alternative procedures for the Public Assistance (PA) program under sections 403(a)(3)(A), 406, 407 and 502(a)(5) of the Stafford Act. It also authorizes FEMA to implement the alternative procedures through a pilot program. FEMA is currently implementing these new authorities as pilot programs.
The law identifies these goals for the procedures:
Reducing the costs to the Federal Government of providing Public Assistance.
Increasing flexibility in the administration of such assistance.
Expediting the provision of assistance to a State, tribal or local government, or nonprofit owner or operator of a private nonprofit facility.
Providing financial incentives and disincentives for timely and cost-effective completion of projects with such assistance.
The alternative procedures authorized under the law pertain to debris removal (emergency work) and repair, restoration, and replacement of disaster-damaged public and private nonprofit facilities (permanent work).
The pilot program implementing the alternative procedures will allow FEMA to gather meaningful information on their effectiveness, establish controls for the proper use of Federal funds, and revise and improve procedures and guidance as the pilot proceeds. It also will allow FEMA to collect data for evaluating the effectiveness of the alternative procedures until regulations are issued to implement the procedures permanently. The law also requires the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to report on the permanent work alternative procedures within three to five years of the law’s enactment.