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Force Account Labor and Equipment Costs

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter

Appeal Brief

ApplicantSt. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#087-UHCPQ-00
PW ID#Project Worksheet 16989
Date Signed2009-04-06T04:00:00
Citation: FEMA-1603-DR-LA, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department, Force Account Labor and Equipment Costs, PW 16989
Cross-reference: Labor Costs and Equipment Rates, Overtime

Summary: After Hurricane Katrina, the Applicant lost 50 percent of its labor force. St. Bernard’s population was 78 percent less than its pre-Katrina level. However, the Applicant reported that the crime rate only decreased 40 percent from its pre-disaster level. The staff worked significantly more overtime due to the reduction in force. The Applicant also hired temporary labor. The Applicant states that the reduced workforce, a rise in crime, and reduced tax base resulted in extraordinary labor and equipment costs. The Applicant requested $4,137,582 in funding for the period of August 2006 to December 2006. FEMA obligated $720,621. The Applicant is appealing the remaining amount of $3,406,961.
The Region denied the Applicant’s claim because the Region determined that the Applicant incurred the labor and equipment costs while performing normal duties, not emergency protective measures as required by Section 403 of the
Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.

The Applicant submitted a second appeal on June 24, 2008. On January 6, 2009, the Applicant met with the Director of the Public Assistance Division in Washington, D.C. The Applicant described the conditions in the Parish and submitted additional documentation to support its appeal.
Issues: Will FEMA provide funding for labor and equipment costs unrelated to emergency protective measures as required by Section 403 of the Stafford Act?

Findings: No.

Rationale: Section 403 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act

Appeal Letter

April 6, 2009

Colonel Thomas Kirkpatrick (Ret.)
State Coordinating Officer
Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
415 North 15th Street,
Baton Rouge, LA 70802

Re: Second Appeal: St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department, PA ID 087-UHCPQ-00,
Force Account Labor and Equipment Costs, FEMA-1603-DR-LA,
Project Worksheet 16989

Dear Col. Kirkpatrick:

This is in response to your letter dated September 26, 2008, to the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department (Applicant). The Applicant appealed FEMA’s decision to deny its request for $3,406,962 for staff overtime and equipment from August 1, 2006, to December 31, 2006.

One year after Hurricane Katrina, the population of St. Bernard Parish was 78 percent less than its pre-Katrina level. However, the Applicant reported that the crime rate was only 40 percent less than pre-disaster level. The Applicant lost approximately 50 percent of its labor force. To meet its mission of protecting the citizens, the Applicant’s remaining employees worked a substantial amount of overtime and the Applicant hired a few temporary workers. The Applicant stated that the reduced workforce, relative increase in crime and reduced tax revenues resulted in extraordinary labor and equipment costs of $4,137,582 from August 1, 2006, to
December 31, 2006. The Applicant stated that these costs resulted from Hurricane Katrina and requested reimbursement from FEMA.

The Applicant submitted its initial request for funding to FEMA in June 2006 and certified that the information provided complied with both state and FEMA regulations on May 22, 2007. The information included a breakdown of costs by the following offices within the Sheriff’s Department: (1) Administration, (2) Field Operations Bureau, (3) Field Operations Administration, (4) Corrections, (5) Criminal Investigation Division (CID)/Special Investigation Division (SID); (6) Traffic, (7) Community Relations, (8) Communications, (9) Maintenance Patrol, (10) Criminal Records, (11) Court Services, and (12) Unknown Division. The Applicants also submitted organizational charts for each office within the Sheriff’s Department with descriptions of duties and other information to support its claim. FEMA reviewed all
information the Applicant submitted and determined that only a portion of the requested costs incurred by the Field Operations Bureau and Traffic Section were required to reduce or eliminate immediate health and safety threats directly related to Hurricane Katrina. FEMA determined that costs related to activities that the other offices performed were normal duties, and not emergency protective measures as defined by Public Assistance program regulations. FEMA subsequently approved $720,620 on December 19, 2007. The Regional Administrator sustained this determination on first appeal in a letter dated April 29, 2008, to your office.

The Applicant submitted a second appeal to your office on June 24, 2008. The FEMA Public Assistance Division Director met with representatives of St. Bernard Parish, the Sheriff’s Department and your office in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2009, to discuss the appeal. The Applicant described the situation in the Parish after Hurricane Katrina struck and provided additional information about employees’ work schedules and timesheets. FEMA considered this information while evaluating the appeal.
Section 403 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act authorizes FEMA to reimburse eligible applicants for costs of activities they perform to lessen or eliminate an immediate threat to public health and safety or additional damage to improved property caused by the disaster. FEMA approved over $9 million for overtime cost for the Applicant’s regular employees and straight-time and overtime costs for temporary employees (see PWs 39, 11504, 11609, 12570, 13243, 13732, and 13879) from August 2005 to July 2006. FEMA prepared these PWs based on estimated costs and the Applicant’s certification that its employees performed eligible emergency protective measures. FEMA requested that the Applicant submit additional documentation during the initial PW development process, to include a description of activities that the employees performed, to support its request for reimbursement of overtime and other costs for August 2006 to December 2006, because more than one year had elapsed since the Hurricane Katrina occurred. While some of the activities for which the Applicant requested reimbursement met the above criterion, most activities did not. Only the cost for performing eligible work is eligible for reimbursement.
We have reviewed all information that the Applicant submitted, including material submitted on January 6, 2009, and determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision in the first appeal was consistent with the Stafford Act and its implementing regulations. Therefore, I am denying the appeal.

Please inform the Applicant of my determination. My decision is the final determination on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206.
James A. Walke
Acting Assistant Administrator
Disaster Assistance Directorate

cc: Gary Jones
Acting Regional Administrator
FEMA Region VI

Jim Stark
Last updated February 4, 2020