Debris Removal and Monitoring

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

Disaster4399
ApplicantFlorida State University
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#000-URAYD-00
PW ID#GMP 75707
Date Signed2022-01-27T17:00:00

Summary Paragraph

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida’s panhandle.  Florida State University (Applicant) requested reimbursement totaling $679,462.99 for debris removal between October 10 – November 24, 2018.  In response to FEMA’s request for hauler truck certifications, load haul tickets and monitoring reports to support cost and reasonableness of the debris operation, the Applicant explained how one of its contractors determined debris pile size and confirmed that its staff monitored the work.  On August 3, 2020, FEMA denied funding, determining the Applicant did not provide documentation to substantiate the quantity of debris claimed on invoices.  The Applicant appealed on September 23, 2020 with photographs, disposal tickets, and a second contractor’s letter that explained how its use of a dumpster broker eliminated the need for truck certifications, tipping fees and monitoring reports.  FEMA denied the appeal on July 7, 2021 as the Applicant did not demonstrate with documentation that it adequately monitored its debris removal operation.  With its September 3, 2021 second appeal, the Applicant provides additional documentation and asserts that it monitored all contracted debris operations and that one contractor only cleared debris to the right of way, in which case it was not required to supply load tickets or documentation of final disposition.  

Authorities and Second Appeals

  • Stafford Act §§ 403, 407.
  • 44 C.F.R. § 206.223(a)(1), 206.224(a).
  • 2 C.F.R. § 200.328.
  • PAPPG, at 57.

Headnotes

  • The Stafford Act authorizes FEMA to reimburse eligible applicants for debris removal from public and private lands when it is in the public interest and essential to saving lives, protecting public health and safety, or preserving property.  FEMA requires applicants to monitor all contracted debris operations to document this information and ensure that the contractor removes eligible debris.  If the applicant does not monitor contracted debris removal operations, it will jeopardize its PA funding for that work.
    • The Applicant did not submit documentation showing that it adequately monitored contracted debris removal operations.  

Conclusion

The Applicant did not demonstrate that it adequately monitored contracted debris removal operations.  Therefore, FEMA cannot verify that the claimed costs were reasonable or associated with eligible work and the second appeal is denied.

Appeal Letter

Kevin Guthrie            

Director                                                                      

Florida Division of Emergency Management           

2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard                                              

Tallahassee, FL 32399-2100

 

Re:       Second Appeal – Florida State University, PA ID: 000-URAYD-00, FEMA-4399-DR-FL Grants Manager Project 75707 – Debris Removal and Monitoring

 

Dear Mr. Guthrie:

This is in response to a letter from your office dated October 29, 2021, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Florida State University (Applicant).  The Applicant is appealing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of $636,324.20 in Public Assistance funding.

As explained in the enclosed analysis, I have determined that the Applicant did not demonstrate that it adequately monitored contracted debris removal operations.  Therefore, FEMA cannot verify that the claimed costs were reasonable or associated with eligible work and the second appeal is denied.

Please inform the Applicant of my decision.  This determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 C.F.R. § 206.206, Appeals.

 

                                                                         Sincerely,

                                                                             /S/

                                                                         Ana Montero

                                                                         Division Director

                                                                         Public Assistance Division

                                                                       

 

cc:  Gracia B. Szczech  

Regional Administrator

FEMA Region IV

Appeal Analysis

Background

On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida’s panhandle.  Florida State University (Applicant) requested reimbursement totaling $679,462.99 for debris removal between October 10 – November 24, 2018.  FEMA reviewed invoices and requested hauler truck certifications, load haul tickets and monitoring reports to support costs and reasonableness of the debris operation.  The Applicant confirmed that its staff monitored the work and explained how one of its contractors, Emerald Tree and Landscaping (ETL), computed the size of the debris pile.[1]  On August 3, 2020, FEMA denied cost eligibility, determining the Applicant did not provide documentation to substantiate the quantity of debris claimed on invoices.

First Appeal

The Applicant appealed on September 23, 2020 for $636,324.20 (after reducing insurance proceeds).  The Applicant explained that a second contractor (ServPro) removed smaller vegetative debris and construction and demolition debris and provided disposal tickets and a ticket audit log.  In an attached letter, ServPro explained that it used 30-yard dumpsters and paid a flat fee per dumpster to a dumpster broker, which eliminated the need for tipping fees, truck certifications and monitoring reports.[2]  The Applicant explained that ETL collected larger tree debris and placed it along the public right of way for collection.  The Applicant’s Director of Finance and Administration toured sections of the campus on four occasions, confirming each time by email that larger tree debris removal was complete.[3]  The Florida Division of Emergency Management (Grantee) supported the appeal in its concurrence dated November 12, 2020. 

The FEMA Region IV Regional Administrator denied the appeal on July 7, 2021 because the Applicant did not adequately monitor debris removal operations.  FEMA noted despite ServPro’s claim, monitoring was required to confirm debris amounts and contents.  In addition, FEMA noted the Applicant did not provide documentation ensuring debris pile eligibility.

Second Appeal

In its September 3, 2021 second appeal, the Applicant asserts that it monitored all contracted debris operations and provides additional documentation.  The Applicant states ETL did not haul or dispose of debris, and that it was not required to supply load tickets or documentation of final disposition for this debris.  The Applicant states ServPro’s subcontractor removed full containers of debris when FSU staff verified that they were full.  The Director of Finance and Administration provided an undated, signed statement of monitoring activities explaining that the Applicant chose to self-monitor contractor operations, certifying that ServPro utilized the dumpsters, confirming that all load quantities removed are accurate, and attesting that all debris originated from the FSU campus as a direct result of Hurricane Michael.[4]  The Grantee’s transmittal is dated October 29, 2021.

 

Discussion

FEMA is authorized to provide Public Assistance funding for debris removal when it is in the public interest because it is necessary to eliminate immediate threats to lives, public health and safety, or ensure economic recovery, as a result of the disaster.[5]  Applicants must monitor their activities under Federal awards to assure compliance with applicable Federal requirements and that performance expectations are being achieved.[6]  FEMA policy requires applicants to provide debris types, quantities, reduction methods, and pickup and disposal locations to establish eligibility of the work; moreover, FEMA requires applicants to monitor all contracted debris operations to document this information and ensure that the contractor removes eligible debris.[7]  If the applicant does not monitor contracted debris removal operations, it will jeopardize its PA funding for that work.[8] 

The Applicant asserts that it monitored all contracted debris operations.  However, the documentation the Applicant submitted does not show that it satisfied debris monitoring requirements.  Emails from the Applicant’s Director of Finance and Administration confirm larger tree debris removal, and photos in the record show a larger debris pile.   However, this documentation is not supported by monitoring reports verifying that the debris was eligible for removal or generated by the disaster.  Likewise, the Applicant did not provide documentation supporting its claim that its staff measured and inspected dumpsters for fullness and eligibility of loads.  Without proper documentation FEMA cannot verify that the claimed costs were reasonable or associated with eligible work.

 

Conclusion

The Applicant did not demonstrate that it adequately monitored contracted debris removal operations.  Therefore, FEMA cannot verify that the claimed costs were reasonable or associated with eligible work and the second appeal is denied.

 

 

[1] Email from Fin. & Admin., Fla. State Univ., to Program Delivery Mgr. FEMA (Mar. 18, 2020,15:01 EST).

[2] Letter from Reg’l Dir., SERVPRO DRT Olson, to Dir., Env’t Health & Safety, Fla. State Univ. (Sept. 8, 2020).

[3] Emails from Dir. Fin & Admin, Fla. State Univ., to Emp., Fla. State Univ. (Oct. 29, 2018, 1741 EST, Oct. 31, 2018, 15:13 EST, Nov. 6, 2018, 15:41 EST, Nov. 20, 2018, 17:34 EST).

[4] Letter from Interim Dir., Env’t Health & Safety, Fla. State Univ., to State Pub. Assistance Officer, Fla. Div. of Emergency Mgmt. (Sept. 3, 2021), attach.15 (undated signed statement of monitoring activities).

[5] Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act § 403 & 407, 42 U.S.C. § 5170b & 5173 (2016); Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations §§ 206.223(a)(1), 206.224(a) (2018).

[6] Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations § 200.328 (2018).

[7] Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, FP 104-009-2, at 57 (Apr. 2018).

[8] Id.

Last updated January 31, 2022