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Process of Public Assistance Grants


Roles & Responsibilities

Delivery Model

Public Assistance begins with the Disaster Declaration Process.

When an area has received a Presidential declaration of an emergency or major disaster, then its state, tribal, territorial and local governments — and certain types of private non-profits — may be eligible to apply for Public Assistance.

FEMA Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide


Public Assistance Program & Policy Guide (PAPPG)

Version 4 of FEMA's PAPPG is applicable to emergencies and major disasters declared on or after June 1, 2020.

Eligibility for Public Assistance Grant Funding

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Applicants may not duplicate benefits with insurance and must comply with Environmental Historic Preservation and Floodplain Management laws as part of the eligibility conditions.

The four basic components of eligibility are applicant, facility, work and cost.

  • An applicant must be a state, territory, tribe, local government or private nonprofit organization.
  • facility must be a building, public works system, equipment or natural feature.
  • Work is categorized as either "emergency" or "permanent." It must be required as a result of the declared incident, located within the designated disaster area, and is the legal responsibility of the applicant.
  • Cost is the funding tied directly to eligible work, and must be adequately documented, authorized, necessary and reasonable. Eligible costs include labor, equipment, materials, contract work, as well as direct and indirect administrative costs.
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The federal share of assistance is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost. The recipient determines how the non-federal share (up to 25 percent) is split with the sub-recipients (i.e. eligible applicants).

Eligible Types of Work

Emergency Work - Must Be Completed Within Six Months

  • Category A: Debris removal
  • Category B: Emergency protective measures


Reference the Public Assistance Program & Policy Guide (PAPPG) for more information on each category.

Permanent Work - Must Be Completed Within 18 Months

  • Category C: Roads and bridges
  • Category D: Water control facilities
  • Category E: Public buildings and contents
  • Category F: Public utilities
  • Category G: Parks, recreational, and other facilities

Roles and Responsibilities

Multiple layers of government work in partnership to administer Public Assistance once a disaster has been declared. Each entity must work together to meet the overall objective of a quick, efficient, and effective program delivery.

FEMA's primary responsibilities are to determine the amount of funding, participate in educating the applicant on specific program issues and procedures, assist the applicant with the development of projects and review the projects for compliance.

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FEMA: The federal awarding agency authorized to manage the program.

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Recipients: The State, Territorial, or Tribal government that receives funding under the disaster declaration and disburses funding to approved subrecipients.

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Applicants: Entities submitting a request for assistance under the recipient's federal award.

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Subrecipients: Applicants who have received a subaward from the Recipient and is then bound by the conditions of the award and subaward.

Public Assistance Program Delivery Model

The Public Assistance 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. 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

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Projects must be completed within the Regulatory deadlines. Applicants may submit a request in writing to the Recipient for consideration of a time extension.

Phase 1. Operational Planning

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.

Phase 2. Impacts and Eligibility

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.

Phase 3. Scoping and Costing

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.   

Phase 4. Final Reviews

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.

Phase 5. Obligation and Recovery Transition

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 Recovery Transition 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.

Phase 6. Post-Award Monitoring and Amendments

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.

Phase 7. Final Reconciliation and Closeout

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.