Simplifying the Public Assistance Program

To help meet the goals of FEMA’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, earlier this year, FEMA re-established the Public Assistance Steering Committee.

The committee is an advisory group of state, territorial, tribal and local government representatives designed to help improve the Public Assistance process for applicants. The committee first convened in 2017 to provide real-world partner perspectives, inform strategic program changes and discuss overall program improvements.


FEMA is now beginning to implement proposed changes from the committee. Below is a listing of items the agency is doing to improve the Public Assistance process. These measures will be formally adopted and included in future versions of the “Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide.”

Simplifying the Processes

In March, FEMA made the first changes based on recommendations to help speed recovery efforts and reduce applicant burdens.

  • Simplified documentation requirements for unobligated projects.
  • Waved the requirement that unobligated projects with completed small projects must be prepared based on actual costs.
  • Adjusted the deadline for projects with work already completed.
  • Began deploying technical experts from FEMA Consolidated Resource Centers to aid project scoping and development for complex operations and projects.
  • Released the “Public Assistance Sampling Procedure to reduce documentation level requirements. (hyperlink sampling procedure – 3rd attachment)
  • Provided examples allowing a FEMA Regional Administrator to approve time extensions for project closeout.

Streamline Public Assistance

In September, FEMA took these additional steps to streamline Public Assistance.

  • Allowed additional flexibility in costs claimed for power restoration work.
  • Eliminated size requirements for the eligibility of the removal of hazardous trees, limbs, branches, and stumps for debris removal projects.
  • Allowed applicants to develop cost estimates faster without using consensus-based codes in 50% rule calculations. 
  • Not requiring separate cost analysis from work performed through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact during disaster response and recovery operations.
Last updated October 3, 2022