Debris Removal >> Tree Removal From Flood Damage

Monitoring costs in operations we reviewed ranged from 20% to 33% of the total cost of debris operations. Other reviews have reported monitoring costs of as FEMA's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 23 much as 50% of total debris costs. Having enough FEMA, state, or local officials present to monitor the monitors increases the direct cost of Tree Removal From Flood Damage oversight even more. 

In such cases, oversight may cost more than the operations being overseen. Figure 11. Truck scale in action (Source: FEMA) Conclusion Debris removal is generally performed effectively and Tree Removal From Flood Damage in a timely manner, but not necessarily at the lowest possible cost. Debris monitoring presents opportunities for improvement, as current methods leave FEMA and its applicants vulnerable to potential waste, fraud, and abuse. 

The effectiveness and integrity of monitoring activities could be improved by having local governments perform monitoring, Tree Removal From Flood Damage especially if they are sharing in collection costs. This could be funded by authorizing FEMA payment for force account labor as was done under the pilot program. Paying for local government employees to address leaning trees and hanging branches could also provide a more secure, lower cost approach to handling these potentially complicated and difficult-to-control efforts. 

If contracted monitors are used, local officials must ensure that the monitoring company does not have an inappropriate relationship with the debris collection contractor, Tree Removal From Flood Damage and that monitors are qualified, trained, and accurate. FEMA should ensure that in cases where the federal government is reimbursing 100% of all debris FEMA's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 24 costs, additional federal oversight is in place, since the incentives for local oversight have been diminished. 

One option for reducing collection and monitoring costs is to pay contractors based on the weight of debris collected rather than volume. Trucks could be weighed on truck scales when they arrive at the collection site and again when they depart, Tree Removal From Flood Damage with the difference being an accurate measure of the weight of the debris. 

Local officials reported that this system worked well and that truck scales could be rented easily and at a reasonable cost for the period that collection centers were operating. No system is totally foolproof. Drivers could still inflate debris weights by wetting down the debris prior to taking it to the collection site or even by adding gravel, Tree Removal From Flood Damage but these actions should be apparent at the collection site. 

Making weighing systems the basis of an automated load ticket accounting system could further reduce the possibility of fraud and Tree Removal From Flood Damage result in improved and better controlled accounting systems for debris collection costs. Recommendations We recommend that the Associate Administrator, Response and Recovery: 

Recommendation #4: Provide force account labor reimbursement to cover local governments' costs of employing workers to monitor debris collections and to remove leaning trees and Tree Removal From Flood Damage hanging branches, and encourage them to undertake such responsibilities. 

Recommendation #5: Strengthen the requirements involved in monitoring contracts to ensure that no relationships exist between debris collection contractors and Tree Removal From Flood Damage monitoring contractors, and that monitors are properly trained and capable of independent and accurate performance. Recommendation #6: Explore advanced technologies to supplement monitoring staff such as GPS in trucks or surveillance cameras. 

Recommendation #7: Assess weight-based rather than volume based payment for debris collection and Tree Removal From Flood Damage investigate whether such FEMA's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 25 systems could be efficiently linked to debris payment accounting systems. 

Management Comments and OIG Analysis FEMA generally concurs with all of these recommendations, but notes that the Agency is not a party to contracts between applicants and contractors. Therefore, Tree Removal From Flood Damage the Agency cannot require the use of advance technology as monitoring tools. 

FEMA acknowledges that weight-based monitoring and payment systems have some advantages over volume-based systems, but said these are not immune from potential waste, fraud, and Tree Removal From Flood Damage abuse and still require proper monitoring and oversight to be effective. FEMA is considering revisions to its regulations that would incorporate the force account straight time labor reimbursement component of the PA Pilot Program. 

FEMA is updating its guidance in both the Debris Contracting Guidance Fact Sheet and Tree Removal From Flood Damage the Debris Monitoring Guide to stress that debris monitors should not have a relationship with debris removal contractors. FEMA stays abreast of current technologies in order to provide appropriate technical assistance to applicants when they are considering technology applications as part of their monitoring operations. 

FEMA also can provide appropriate funding, such as for the rental of temporary scales, during debris operations. We agree with the steps that FEMA is taking to improve the conduct of debris operations. We understand that FEMA is not a party to contracts between applicants and Tree Removal From Flood Damage contractors and cannot require the use of advance technology as monitoring tools. 

However, FEMA can encourage the use of cost-effective advance technology for monitoring, such as weight-based monitoring and payment systems, by publicizing and Tree Removal From Flood Damage encouraging the use of these systems including offering financial incentives. We will determine the status of these recommendations when we receive the detailed corrective action plan in FEMA's 90 day letter. 

FEMA's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 26 FEMA Management and Oversight FEMA's management and oversight of debris operations is subject to many of the overall challenges associated with managing the complex Tree Removal From Flood Damage and geographically diverse Public Assistance program. 

For example, our December 2009 report 3 concluded that the implementation of FEMA's PA program was hindered by untimely funding determinations, deficiencies in program management, Tree Removal From Flood Damage and poorly designed performance measures. The report identified opportunities for improvement in a number of areas relevant to debris removal operations:  

Inconsistent and tardy eligibility determinations Inaccurate costs and scopes of work in initial project worksheets Undue delays and deferrals in making decisions regarding cost overruns Tree Removal From Flood Damage and scope changes prior to closeout Insufficient detail regarding scopes of work Inappropriate negotiations with subgrantees on eligibility  

Failure to accept subgrantees' supporting documentation Repetitive documentation requests Unreasonable cost estimates The report concluded that these program management deficiencies are caused principally by turnover, inexperience, Tree Removal From Flood Damage and lack of training within FEMA's disaster workforce.

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