Immediate Threat

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

Disaster4483
ApplicantDeWitt
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#045-21180-00
PW ID#GMP 156718/PW 470
Date Signed2022-05-27T16:00:00

Summary Paragraph

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in a major disaster declaration for the State of Iowa on March 23, 2020.  The City of DeWitt (Applicant) requested Public Assistance for personal protective equipment (PPE), materials, equipment, and services to facilitate remote work and the reopening of its Aquatic Center and Recreation Department.  FEMA issued a Determination Memorandum, partially granting the request, finding that $9,638.97 for PPE and other items purchased before September 15, 2020 were eligible.  FEMA denied the remaining costs of $6,431.03, finding that they were not related to the performance of eligible emergency protective measures.  The Applicant appealed $1,032.36 for costs associated with IT equipment and software for remote meetings and its library program, and materials for reopening of its Aquatic Center and Recreation Department.  The FEMA Region VII Regional Administrator denied the appeal, finding that the claimed items were not eligible emergency protective measures but rather were ineligible increased operating costs.  In its second appeal letter, the Applicant reiterates its previously raised arguments and seeks $886.42 for expenses not claimed in its first appeal, asserting they are eligible for funding under the revised FEMA Policy 104-21-0003, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance (Interim) (Version 2). 

Authorities and Second Appeals

  • Stafford Act § 403(a)(3).
  • 44 C.F.R. § 206.225(a)(1).
  • FP 104-21-0003, at 5.

Headnotes

Conclusion

The Applicant demonstrated that $837.44 for PPE, disinfection supplies, and sneeze guards are eligible emergency protective measures in response to COVID-19.  The remaining $1,081.34 in costs are denied because the Applicant has not demonstrated it performed eligible emergency protective measures to safely open and operate a facility.  The appeal is partially approved in the amount of $837.44.

 

Appeal Letter

John Benson               

Director                                                                      

Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management                   

7900 Hickman Road, Suite 500

Windsor Heights, Iowa 50324           

 

Re:  Second Appeal – DeWitt, PA ID: 045-21180-00, FEMA-4483-DR-IA, Project Number 156718/Project Worksheet 470, Immediate Threat

 

Dear Mr. Benson:

This is in response to the letter from your office dated February 18, 2022, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of the City of DeWitt (Applicant).  The Applicant is appealing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of funding in the amount of $1,918.78 for costs associated with personal protective equipment (PPE), information technology materials, software, services, equipment, and supplies.  

As explained in the enclosed analysis, I have determined the Applicant demonstrated that $837.44 for PPE, disinfection supplies, and sneeze guards are eligible emergency protective measures in response to COVID-19.  The remaining $1,081.34 in costs are denied because the Applicant has not demonstrated it performed eligible emergency protective measures to safely open and operate a facility.  Therefore, this appeal is partially approved in the amount of $837.44.  By copy of this letter, I am requesting the Regional Administrator to take appropriate action to implement this determination.

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

 

Enclosure

cc:  Andrea Spillars

       Regional Administrator

       FEMA Region VII

Appeal Analysis

Background

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in a major disaster declaration for the State of Iowa on March 23, 2020, with an incident period of January 20, 2020, and continuing.  The City of DeWitt (Applicant) requested $16,070.00 in Public Assistance (PA) funding for personal protective equipment (PPE), materials, supplies, and services purchased from March to October 2020.  On June 11, 2021, FEMA issued a Determination Memorandum (DM) partially granting the request, finding that $9,638.97 in costs for PPE, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, and sneeze guards, all purchased before September 15, 2020, were eligible under COVID-19 policies that only applied to work performed prior to that date.  FEMA denied the remaining costs of $6,431.03, finding that the claimed supplies and commodities[1] were not eligible because they were not related to the performance of eligible emergency protective measures and, instead, were ineligible increased operating costs.  FEMA also found that the costs for PPE and equipment to facilitate remote work on or after September 15, 2020 were ineligible because they did not relate to the performance of eligible emergency work specifically listed in applicable COVID-19 policies for that time period.[2] 

First Appeal

The Applicant submitted its first appeal requesting FEMA reconsider $1,032.36 in costs associated with remote meeting subscriptions, information technology (IT) equipment, software, and materials for the reopening of its Aquatic Center and the Recreation Department.[3] 

The Applicant stated that these purchases facilitated remote work, allowed it to conduct business, and were undertaken in response to guidance in the Governor’s proclamation on safe reopening.  On September 20, 2021, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (Grantee) transmitted the Applicant’s appeal with a letter of support.

The FEMA Region VII Regional Administrator denied the appeal, finding that the claimed work and associated costs were directly related to performing the same work that the Applicant would have performed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  FEMA found that the work was not an eligible emergency protective measure but rather an ineligible increased operating cost. 

Second Appeal

On December 30, 2021, the Applicant appealed the denial of $1,032.36 in costs associated with remote meeting subscriptions, IT equipment, software, and materials for the reopening of the Aquatic Center and the Recreation Department, reiterating its previously raised arguments.  In addition, the Applicant seeks $886.42 for expenses that were denied in the DM because these items were purchased on or after September 15, 2020.  These costs, which the Applicant did not initially appeal, include $837.44 for PPE, disinfection supplies, and sneeze guards, and $48.98 for a banner and Zoom subscriptions.  The Applicant explains that these additional costs were not included in the first appeal because the revised policy for Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance (Interim) (Version 2) (O&O Policy), which expanded the period of work eligibility in the prior O&O policy to include the dates on which those costs were incurred, had not been issued yet when the first appeal was submitted.  The Grantee supports the appeal.

 

Discussion

FEMA is authorized to provide emergency protective measures to save lives and protect public health and safety.[4]  Under the COVID-19 Declaration, FEMA may provide assistance for eligible emergency protective measures that include certain measures to safely open and operate an eligible facility.[5]  Such assistance is limited to the purchase and distribution of face masks and personal protective equipment, cleaning and disinfection, COVID-19 diagnostic testing, screening and temperature scanning, and purchase and installation of temporary physical barriers.[6]

The Applicant states that the work and associated costs for remote meeting subscriptions, IT equipment, software, and materials to reopen its Aquatic Center and its Recreation Department facilitated remote work and business.  However, the O&O policy limits eligible emergency protective measures in response to COVID-19 to specific categories, and none of these items for which the Applicant seeks funding is an eligible emergency protective measure falling under one of those categories in that policy.  Therefore, these items and associated costs of $1,032.36 are ineligible for PA funding.

In addition, the Applicant seeks $837.44 for PPE, disinfection supplies, and sneeze guards, and $48.98 for a banner and Zoom subscriptions, which were denied in the DM because these items were purchased on or after September 15, 2020.  Pursuant to the expanded period of work eligibility in the O&O Policy, the Applicant has demonstrated the PPE, disinfection supplies, and sneeze guards are eligible emergency protective measures taken in response to COVID-19.  However, the additional claimed costs for a banner and Zoom subscriptions are not associated with any eligible activity in FEMA’s COVID-19 policies. 

 

Conclusion

The Applicant demonstrated that $837.44 for PPE, disinfection supplies, and sneeze guards are eligible emergency protective measures in response to COVID-19.  The remaining $1,081.34 in costs are denied because the Applicant has not demonstrated it performed eligible emergency protective measures to safely open and operate a facility.  The appeal is partially approved in the amount of $837.44.

 

 

[1] The items denied included a padlock, cleaning equipment repairs, webcams, electronic meeting equipment and fees for electronic meeting subscriptions, online summer reading program costs, T-posts, knives, baskets, clipboards, mesh bags, canopy, tally counter, markers, a hole punch, and a speaker/microphone.

[2] At the time FEMA issued the DM, FEMA’s revised safe opening and operating policy (FP 104-21-0003, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Safe Opening and Operation Work Eligible for Public Assistance (Interim) (Version 2) (Sept. 8, 2021)) (O&O Policy), was not yet in effect, and the prior version of the O&O policy that was in effect only applied to work performed in 2021.

[3] The materials for the reopening of the Aquatic Center and the Recreation Department included laundry baskets, clipboards, pens, facial pocket packs, totes, mesh bags, a canopy, tally counter, markers, and a hole punch. 

[4] Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act § 403(a)(3), Title 42, United States Code § 5170b(a)(3) (2018); Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (44 C.F.R.) § 206.225(a)(1) (2019).

[5] O&O Policy, at 5.

[6] Id.

Last updated June 1, 2022