Using FEMA GO
Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation
Milestones and Cost Effectiveness
To apply for funding made available for FY20 through the BRIC program, applicants must adhere to the following application deadlines:
Application Opening: September 30, 2020
Notification of Technical Issues with FEMA GO: January 27, 2021, 3 p.m. ET
Application Deadline: January 29, 2021, 3 p.m. ET
Many states have fixed subapplication deadlines that precede the application deadline. Contact your State Hazard Mitigation Officer (SHMO) to learn about potential state deadlines.
Using FEMA GO to Apply
Eligible applicants and subapplicants must apply for funding using the new grants management system: FEMA GO. BRIC will not accept paper applications or applications submitted using the old eGrants system. FEMA GO is replacing eGrants for the BRIC and Flood Mitigation Assistance grant programs.
Submitting as an Applicant or Subappliant
Applicants may work with their FEMA Region. Subapplicants may work with their respective applicant to submit subapplications by the applicant’s own submission deadline.
Applicants then prioritize, rank and attach subapplications before submitting them as a final, single BRIC application to FEMA by January 29, 2021, 3 p.m. ET.
To receive assistance with FEMA GO, email the FEMA GO Helpdesk or call (877) 611-4700.
To receive support regarding Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA)-specific questions, contact the HMA Helpline by telephone at (866) 222-3580.
Technical Criteria for Projects Evaluated under the National Competition
Technical evaluation criteria reviews will be performed by FEMA staff.
Technical Evaluation Criteria
Technical evaluation criteria are binary point awards; projects either receive the full points allotted or zero points for each criterion.
While the National Technical Review determines if a project is cost-effective and technically feasible, the technical evaluation criteria offer incentives for additional elements valued by FEMA, such as projects that mitigate risk to infrastructure and lifelines or incorporate nature-based solutions.
All mitigation project subapplications will receive a technical evaluation criteria score, and if needed based on the number of subapplications submitted to the BRIC program, FEMA will use the technical evaluation criteria scoring as a program priority screening tool to determine which subapplications continue to the qualitative evaluation review. A project’s cumulative score from both the qualitative and technical evaluations will determine its priority order among all projects considered in the national competition.
Qualitative Criteria for Projects Evaluated under the National Competition
The qualitative review allows subapplicants the flexibility to fully explain the strengths of the proposed project and our stakeholders to participate in the review process. FEMA developed the qualitative evaluation criteria based on comments received through summer of 2019 stakeholder engagement efforts.
For example, comments indicated support for holistic project evaluation beyond economic metrics alone, such as highlighting the value of partnerships and the importance of considering future conditions. View more information on BRIC and stakeholder engagement efforts.
Qualitative Criterion Prompts
Prompts are outlined for each qualitative criterion to serve as a helpful starting point for applicants and subapplicants. These prompts are designed to clarify terms and provide guiding questions for applicants and subapplicants to consider as they write the subapplication. This information will be provided to panelists who will review the subapplications submitted in the national competition to foster a common frame of reference.
Please note that answering every question, while informative, will not necessarily guarantee an “Exceeds” score. Prompts included are by no means mutually exclusive or exhaustive; any additional information to support the merit of the subapplication is welcome.
Scoring of Qualitative Evaluations
FEMA will convene a National Review Panel to score subapplications based on qualitative evaluation criteria. The BRIC national competition National Review Panel will include FEMA Regional Office and Headquarters staff, as well as representatives from state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and other federal agencies. The National Review Panel will help increase transparency in decision-making while building capability and partnerships.
Qualitative evaluation criteria have graded scales of point scoring. Panelists in the National Review Panel will leverage their mitigation experience and expertise during the review to assess the degree to which subapplications meet the six BRIC qualitative evaluation criteria using the following scale: not at all, minimally, partially, mostly, entirely, or exceeds (see Table 1 in the BRIC Qualitative Criteria Program Support Material for more information on these scoring options).
The National Review Panel will apply the scoring options to all six qualitative criteria. However, point values associated with each scoring option vary among criteria, depending on the total possible points for each criterion. The graded scoring and point scales for each qualitative evaluation criterion are included in the BRIC Qualitative Criteria Program Support Material. The subapplication’s final qualitative score will be calculated by averaging the qualitative scores from each panelist who reviewed the subapplication.
Instructions to guide information submission in FEMA GO are included below the graded scoring and point scales table for each criterion in the BRIC Qualitative Criteria Program Support Material.
Visit out FEMA GO page for details on navigating the new FEMA GO system and its application process.
Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) Requirements
Compliance with all applicable EHP laws, Executive Orders (EOs) and regulations to assess potential impacts of a proposed project on affected physical, cultural (historic and archaeological), biological, and social resources is a condition of BRIC funding. Consequently, all BRIC project subapplications must undergo an EHP review as part of FEMA’s eligibility review process prior to award.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires FEMA and other federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of, in some cases, multiple alternatives to a proposed project as part of the application review process. FEMA must also ensure a proposed project meets the requirements of various other federal laws and EOs, such as the Clean Water Act (CWA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), EO 11988 on floodplains, and EO 11990 on wetlands.
Applicants should consider EHP impacts early in the project scoping and development stages to help minimize impacts and avoid delays and additional costs at later stages. Early environmental planning, including consideration of possible conservation and mitigation measures that can be incorporated into the project to avoid or minimize adverse impacts, may also expedite the EHP review process.
For questions about NEPA or EHP requirements, email the EHP Helpline or call1-866-222-3580.
Some project types do not require an EHP review under NEPA because they are listed as a Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) because they would not result in a significant environmental impact.
Applicants and subapplicants should complete the EHP Checklist when scoping a project to assist in consideration of EHP requirements—including understanding where impacts could be avoided or minimized—during the development of a complete project application (FEMA refers to consideration of EHP impacts at the earliest point possible in the decision-making process as “EHP frontloading”). Find guidance on EHP frontloading during application development.
EHP Considerations for Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Projects
Hazardous fuels reduction is one of the commonly implemented wildfire mitigation project types and is designed to moderate fire behavior and reduce the risk of damage to life and property in the target area for mitigation. The project design must include consideration of EHP resources in accordance with all EHP laws, EOs, and regulations, including endangered or threatened species or critical habitat and whether the proposed project might impact historic or cultural resources in the proposed project area.
Changes in vegetation (through removal and/or planting) may impact habitat, species, surface water, groundwater, floodplains, or visual aesthetics. The methods used to manage vegetation may increase erosion and sedimentation, impact species, or affect human communities. Under NEPA, certain categories of actions can be categorically excluded (i.e., a “CATEX” could be applied) if FEMA has previously determined that they are unlikely to have significant impacts on EHP resources.
EHP Considerations for Flood Risk Reduction Projects
Flood risk reduction projects are designed to lessen the frequency or depth of flooding. These projects involve activities such as installing or modifying culverts and other stormwater management facilities; constructing or modifying retention and detention basins; applying nature-based solutions; and constructing or modifying floodwalls, dams, and weirs. Flood risk reduction projects may impact floodplain resources and change flood elevations or extend both upstream and downstream from the project.
The methods used to construct a flood risk reduction project may result in erosion and sedimentation, impact species, or affect human communities. Ground disturbance could affect archaeological resources, soils, or utilities. Major flood control construction projects may require more in-depth NEPA analysis via an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Nature-based solutions are used as a technical evaluation criterion to score subapplications submitted to the national competition. To receive the point allotment for this criterion, the subapplication must indicate and describe how the project incorporates one or more nature-based solutions, which are sustainable environmental management practices that restore, mimic, and/or enhance nature and natural systems or processes and support natural hazard risk mitigation as well as economic, environmental, and social resilience efforts.
Nature-based solutions use approaches that include, but are not limited to, restoration of grasslands, rivers, floodplains, wetlands, dunes, and reefs; living shorelines; soil stabilization; aquifer storage and recovery; and bioretention systems.
More information on technical evaluation criteria is available in the BRIC Technical Criteria Program Support Material.
To learn more check out FEMA’s Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions: A Guide for Local Communities.
Documenting Milestones and Cost Effectiveness
The subapplicant, in coordination with the applicant, must identify a series of Go/No-Go milestones throughout the work schedule for mitigation activities that FEMA will review and approve. A Go/No-Go milestone is a major milestone in the project that if not completed on time may result in a cancellation of the subaward. Progress towards meeting the Go/No-Go milestones must be reported in the quarterly progress reports submitted to the Recipient and FEMA. At these Go/No-Go milestones, FEMA will evaluate the project’s performance, schedule adherence, and contribution to FEMA’s program goals and objectives.
Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) is a method that determines the future risk reduction benefits of a hazard mitigation project and compares those benefits to its costs. The result is a benefit-cost ratio (BCR). A project is considered cost-effective when the BCR is 1.0 or greater. Applicants and subapplicants must use FEMA-approved methodologies and tools—such as the BCA Toolkit—to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of their projects.
To streamline the grant application process, FEMA has released pre-calculated analyses for several eligible projects including:
- Acquisitions and Elevations in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)
- Residential Hurricane Wind Retrofits
- Non-Residential Hurricane Wind Retrofits
- Individual Tornado Safe Rooms
- Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Post Wildfire
Capability- and Capacity-Building activity and management costs subapplications do not require a BCA. For more information on BCA requirements, email the BCA Helpdesk or call toll free at 1-855-540-6744.
Management costs are any indirect costs, any direct administrative costs, and other administrative expenses that are reasonably incurred in administering an award or subaward.
Eligible applicant or subapplicant management cost activities may include:
- Solicitation, review, and processing of subapplications and subawards
- Subapplication development and technical assistance to subapplicants regarding feasibility and effectiveness and BCA
- Geocoding mitigation projects identified for further review by FEMA
- Delivery of technical assistance (e.g., plan reviews, planning workshops, training) to support the implementation of mitigation activities
- Managing awards (e.g., quarterly reporting including managing Go/No-Go milestones, closeout)
- Technical monitoring (e.g., site visits, technical meetings)
- Purchase of equipment, per diem and travel expenses, and professional development that is directly related to the implementation of HMA programs
- Staff salary costs directly related to performing the activities listed above
Requesting Approval of Management Costs
In addition to proposed project costs, applicants and subapplicants can request management costs in their Application and subapplication totaling up to 15 percent of the total amount of the grant award. However, an applicant may include no more than 10 percent of its budget for management costs to administer and manage award and subaward activities; a subapplicant may include subapplicant management costs of up to 5 percent of the total cost of its Capability- and Capacity-Building (C&CB) activity or mitigation project subapplication to manage the proposed subaward activities.
Applicant requests for management costs must be submitted in a separate management costs subapplication in FEMA GO. Subapplicant management cost activities must be added to the Scope of Work section and identified as a line item in the Cost Estimate section of subapplications in FEMA GO. FEMA will provide 100 percent federal funding for management costs.