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How to Apply for Public Assistance

Phases of the Public Assistance Delivery Model

Grants Manager and Grant Portal

Additional Guidance

The Public Assistance (PA) Program Delivery Model is the process used by FEMA to deliver grant assistance to Applicants following a disaster declaration. Projects are segmented based on the complexity of the type of work. Workflows are transparent and accountable through the online Grants Manager and Grants Portal tools. The process pairs specialized staff, roles, and responsibilities to fit Applicants’ needs; and centralizes processing to ensure consistency across multiple disaster operations.

Communities interested in applying for a PA Grant should contact their local or state emergency manager to begin the process and submit a Request for Public Assistance form. Applicants are highly encouraged to submit their forms through the online FEMA Grants Portal for faster processing.

Phases of the Public Assistance Delivery Model

1. Operational Planning

In Phase 1, Applicants work with the Recipient and FEMA to identify disaster impacts and recovery priorities. As soon as possible following the President’s declaration, the Recipient conducts briefings for all potential Applicants. Applicants register to access the online grants management system (Grants Portal) and submit Requests for Public Assistance (RPA), which are then reviewed by the Recipient and FEMA for eligibility. Once complete, FEMA will generally assign the Applicant a Program Delivery Manager (PDMG) to guide the Applicant throughout the program delivery process. The PDMG will schedule an Exploratory Call and a Recovery Scoping Meeting to provide Applicants with information about next steps.

2. Impacts and Eligibility

In Phase 2, Applicants must report all disaster-related impacts to FEMA within 60 days of the Recovery Scoping Meeting. FEMA then works with the Applicant to finalize the list of impacts; logically group the impacts and associated damage and work into project applications; conduct site inspections to develop a detailed description of the incident-related damage and dimensions; and collect additional project information and documentation.

3. Scoping and Costing

In Phase 3, FEMA develops the damage description and dimensions (for Completed/Fully Documented projects), scopes of work (if not provided by the Applicant), including hazard mitigation plans, and costs for each project. FEMA reviews and validates all documentation to ensure document integrity and compliance with all laws and regulations including for duplication-of-benefits from insurance or other Federal Agencies and Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) compliance.   

4. Final Reviews

In Phase 4, FEMA and the Recipient review and validate the project application to ensure completeness, eligibility, and compliance with Federal laws and regulations on items such as contracting and environmental and historic preservation. The Applicant reviews all terms and conditions that FEMA or the Recipient include in the project application and signs in agreement to the funding terms, including requirements for reporting on project work progress and completion.

5. Obligation and Recovery Transition

In Phase 5, FEMA obligates funds to the Recipient, after which the Recipient is responsible for distributing the funds to the Applicant. Once the Applicant has signed all of its projects, FEMA coordinates with the Recipient to schedule a Recovery Transition Meeting. The purpose of the Recovery Transition Meeting is to transition the primary point-of-contact from FEMA field personnel to the Recipient. At the meeting, FEMA will confirm with the Applicant that all claimed damage is sufficiently and accurately documented, explain deadlines for completion of work and appeal, and ensure that the Applicant understands the terms and conditions of its projects.

6. Post-Award Monitoring and Amendments

In Phase 6, the Applicant provides additional documentation as its recovery efforts unfold. The Applicant may submit an amendment request to change the scope of work or costs of a project or request additional time to complete the project. FEMA will review all amendment and time extension requests for eligibility and compliance with EHP regulations. During this phase, Recipients will work with Applicants to submit quarterly progress reporting and address federal and non-federal audit requests.

7. Final Reconciliation and Closeout

In Phase 7, the Applicant coordinates with the Recipient to formally close projects upon completion of work. Once all of an Applicant’s projects are complete, the Recipient will request closeout for the Applicant. Once all Applicants are closed, FEMA and the Recipient will work together to close the PA award for the entire disaster.

Grants Manager and Grants Portal

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Applicants should use the Grants Portal to account for all activities associated with their damage claims.

Need help? Call the hotline at 1-866-337-8448 or email the Grants Portal team to request webinars and training.

The Grants Manager and Grants Portal tool is a two-part, online platform that is used to formulate and track award packages. Grants Manager is the internal platform used by FEMA specialists, while the Grants Portal is the external platform used by applicants, recipients, and sub-recipients to manage their projects.

Applicants can use the Public Assistance Grants Portal to:

  • Register for and update an applicant profile
  • Submit a Request for Public Assistance
  • Upload project documentation

Additional Guidance

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Learn how to use the Grants Portal on YouTube

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Learn how to use the Grants Portal on YouTube