Visual documentation (maps and sketches, video and photographs) showing an overview as well as details of the repair and the facility gives strong support to your disaster recovery project.
Throughout the process, applicants are advised to strive for reasonableness in formulating projects, to be proactive and helpful, but also to be assertive.
For example, if there is a request for additional information and it appears unreasonable, then raise issue with the request. Often there are multiple requests for the same information, mostly due to turnover in FEMA personnel.
Additionally, applicants should be aware of the governing regulations and any policy changes arrived at through negotiations between the state and FEMA.
A key element to maintaining a proactive stance in the grant process is participation in the on-site inspections, and documentation of everything possible when performing the repair (especially if the state/ FEMA site visit has not yet occurred). Transmit all information to FEMA project officers through your state contact, and never negotiate with FEMAwithout the presence of a state contact.
If, for example, it is necessary to report additional damage, the reporting channel for previously undiscovered disaster-related damage is through the state. Any damage not shown to the project officer during the initial site visit must be reported within 60 days.
FEMA categorizes PWs as large or small projects based on a set project-repair value that is adjusted each year. The two categories follow quite different funding paths.
Funding for small projects is designed to be expeditious and simple, according to the FEMA Public Assistance Guide . The small project receives an upfront payment based on estimated repair costs, if actual costs are not yet available.
Once FEMA has obligated the funds, the federal government’s share of the money is released to the state. The state turns over the funds to the applicant after the work is approved, and then takes the responsibility for certification and validation of the project work.
“Once all small projects are complete, the state must certify that work has been completed in accordance with the approved scope of work on the PW, in compliance with FEMA standards and policies, and that all payments due have been made,” states the FEMA Public Assistance Guide.
Certification does not require the state to work its way line by line through the project history, but rather acts as a simple check that the project work was completed. If the applicant spends less on the small project repairs than originally specified in the PW, the federal share is not reduced in kind.
If the applicant spends more than originally specified by the approved PW, the federal share is not automatically increased. The extra costs can be covered if the applicant applies for additional funding. But for FEMA to grant the additional funding, according to the FEMA Public Assistance Guide , the average cost of all small projects for that applicant must be more than the initial estimates.
“Note that this [additional funding] opportunity applies only to a net cost overrun for all small projects, not to an overrun for an individual project. This policy is based on the fact that small projects with cost under- runs typically will offset those small projects where the applicant experienced cost overruns.”
Another step in the funding process for small projects is called validation. Validation is common for applicants who prepare their PWs without assistance from FEMA or the state.
The goals of the small project validation process are quite...