...within the improved projects because of physical changes or contracting arrangements.”
The handbook gives as examples situations in which the applicant may want to lay asphalt on a gravel road or replace a two-bay firehouse with one that will have three bays. The handbook states that costs for improved projects must fall within the already federally approved estimate for repair, and that FEMA is required to review the changes for other compliance issues.
“Funding for improved projects is limited to the approved federal estimate to complete the eligible scope of work for repair of the existing facility (without the improvements). The state may approve an improved project; however FEMA must review the project for compliance with environmental and historic statutes and other Special Considerations that apply.”
Failure to make the appropriate requests for a change in project status—a change from Standard to Improved—can put at risk the whole project’s funding. When any applicant is facing a decision about project improvements after the project has started, they must seek guidance from the state before undertaking the change in plans. FEMA’s handbook spells this out clearly:
“Improved Projects are very common among facilities requiring significant repairs or replacement; unfortunately applicants often decide to make such improvements after the project has started. It is important to agree on any improvements to be made prior to the start of a project, and to make the appropriate request for Improved Project status to the state. Failure to do so may jeopardize all funding for the project. If an applicant determines to make any improvements during the course of the repairs or replacement, they should immediately seek guidance from the state before proceeding.”
The Alternate Project is the third type of project to consider. The FEMA guidelines for an Alternate Project cover “any permanent restoration project (large or small) where the applicant chooses to abandon the facility and its function rather than make disaster repairs.”
Alternate Projects are eligible for federal funds that do not exceed the original approved estimate, and the project work can occur at another location. An example is that of a school district that chooses to construct office space, rather than rebuild a destroyed gymnasium.