A presidential major disaster declaration makes funds available if requested by a governor or tribal executive in eligible communities in a state, tribe or territory. The amount of funding is based on the estimated total federal assistance, subject to a sliding scale formula.
Funding is based on the estimated total or aggregate cost of disaster assistance:
- Up to 15 percent of the first $2 billion
- Up to 10 percent for amounts between $2 billion and $10 billion
- Up to 7.5 percent for amounts between $10 billion and $35.333 billion
- States with enhanced mitigation plans: Up to 20 percent, not to exceed $35.333 billion
Immediately After a Presidential Declaration
Regulations require state, local, tribal and territorial governments to submit a letter of intent to FEMA within 30 days after a disaster declaration that notifies FEMA whether they will or won’t participate in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Eligibility to receive funding depends on whether state and tribal administrative plans and mitigation strategies are up-to-date and approved.
Preliminary Damage Assessment
Following a major disaster, states, local governments, tribes and territories are required to perform a joint preliminary disaster assessment of the impacted area with FEMA. This determines the amount and type of federal assistance needed and identifies potential mitigation opportunities for FEMA funding.
If the severity of the damage warrants a presidential major disaster declaration, the Individual Assistance (IA), Public Assistance (PA) programs and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program become eligible for funding.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Application Process
There are seven major steps in the application process.
1. Project Scoping
The overarching goal is to propose a project that will reduce or eliminate long-term risk. Project scoping helps develop a preferred project alternative that is documented through the process. It also helps to develop the technical design and costs, and ensures environmental planning and historic preservation (EHP) compliance.
To be eligible for funding, all of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program eligibility requirements must meet the minimum project criteria in 44 CFR Section 206.434(b). Address program eligibility requirements at the earliest point in the decision-making process.
2. Project Development
During the project development process, the sub-applicant should refine mitigation activity in areas of technical feasibility, cost-effectiveness and EHP requirements. The reason for the refinement, or re-scoping, must be documented in the application, called the sub-application.
3. Project Submission
You should identify risks or problems and examine alternative solutions during the mitigation planning process. Consider all program requirements at the beginning stages of project development to make sure that all requirements are met.
The applicant must submit all sub-applications to FEMA within 12 months of the date of the presidential major disaster declaration. Upon written request and justification from the applicant, FEMA may extend the application submission timeline in 30- to 90-day increments, not to exceed 180 days. For more information, see 44 CFR Section 206.436.
States, territories, federally-recognized tribes, local communities and private nonprofit organizations all can sponsor an application on behalf of individuals. The sponsors are referred to as applicants.
4. Project Review
Applicants solicit sub-applications from eligible sub-applicants and assist with preparing, reviewing and submitting applications to FEMA. If the applicant does not agree with an eligibility determination, they may appeal.
5. Project Award and Obligation
FEMA awards funds to the recipient, which disburses the funds to its sub-recipient – generally the local governments. Homeowners may start their projects once authorized by their state, tribal, territorial or local government official. Work started prior to FEMA review and approval is ineligible for funding.
6. Project Implementation and Monitoring
Grant recipients have 36 months or three years from the close of the application period to complete their projects. Sound project monitoring improves the efficiency of implementing the project and obligating funds.
The state, tribe or territory must oversee and monitor the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program projects, usually done via site visits, telephone calls, meetings and progress reports. They work with the local community to ensure that grant terms and conditions are met and confirm that the project complies with:
- The approved scope of work, budget and timeline.
- Environmental planning and historic preservation and floodplain management requirements.
- Administrative requirements of 44 CFR Part 206 and 2 CFR Part 200.
- Audit requirements of 2 CFR Part 200 Subpart F.
Quarterly progress reports must be submitted to FEMA on funded mitigation activities.
7. Award Closeout
Award closeout is the process by which the recipient and FEMA verify that a sub-award scope of work has been completed as approved and that all reimbursable costs are eligible. It verifies that the recipient and FEMA complied with terms and conditions of the award and completed the project or program objectives.
Closeout must be completed within 90 days of the end of the Period of Performance (POP), which is the time when grant activities must be completed, or it may occur earlier if a recipient completes all required work or expends all available federal funding in advance of the scheduled closeout timeline.
Standard Closeout ensures that FEMA has received:
- Final reports
- Final allowable costs (subject to adjustment as a result of a subsequent audit)
- Amounts due (which can also go to the recipient)
- Final settlement in the disposition of property acquired or provided for use under the grant
Standard Closeout must conform to regulatory requirements and program guidance. If the Standard Closeout process is unable to be completed, FEMA will pursue Administrative Closeout.
Administrative Closeout is closure of a Federal Prime Grant Award when the recipient is non-compliant, there is clear negligence on the part of the recipient, or the recipient is unwilling to complete the closeout requirements or submit required final reports. The agency decision may result in further consequences via enforcement actions. See 2 CFR Section 200.339(a)(1) and 2 CFR Section 200.343, especially Section 200.343(d) - (g).
The recipient must perform closeout tasks for both the Federal Prime Grant Award and sub-awards. FEMA requirements for closing sub-awards are outlined in the Closeout Toolkit: Checklist for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and Closeout Toolkit: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Sub-award Closeout FAQs.
Also, the recipient must conduct final inspections, reconcile sub-recipient expenditures, resolve negative audit findings, obtain final reports from sub-recipients and reconcile the closeout activities of sub-recipients with all award requirements.