Wind Damage >> Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal

This office reported that its applicants had "passed every decision through layers of FEMA approvals" at the time the original disaster cleanup was under way, and it was only informed years later that certain vegetative debris removal was ineligible for reimbursement. Several applicants have Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal encountered problems with tipping fees.

FEMA reimburses tipping fees to compensate applicants for the Tipping fees are fees that landfills charge to cover their operating and maintenance costs. FEMA's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 31 Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal diminished capacity of a landfill resulting from the disposal of disaster-generated debris. 

FEMA disallowed $7.7 million in tipping fee charges in an Alabama county based on the argument that the applicant based tipping fees on the volume of raw vegetative debris Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal instead of the diminished volume of burned debris. 

FEMA challenged tipping fees in a Tennessee county because different rates had been applied for in-county and out-of county debris removal contractors per the county's customary practice. We reviewed the latest FEMA guidance and found only two limited references to tipping fees; Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal neither addressed the above issues. 

Recent controversies in Kentucky and New York have centered on the appropriateness of debris removal costs; Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal in both cases FEMA disputed the costs paid to contractors for debris removal even though the costs were arrived at through competitive bidding. 

While competitive procurement usually establishes that the debris removal rates are reasonable, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal it does not establish that a contractor removed only eligible debris. Nor does it ensure that proper documentation exists to substantiate an applicant's claim. No Substitute for FEMA "Boots on the Ground" 

There is widespread agreement among state and local officials that a visible FEMA presence at a disaster site has a direct impact on reducing fraud and Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal abuse. A commonly cited example involves load calls from debris monitors in towers. 

Debris specialists and public assistance officials said when no FEMA employee is present, incoming trucks are virtually all recorded at or near 100% capacity, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal but as soon as a FEMA employee or official representative is in the tower, the load calls drop to 60% to 70%. These anecdotal observations were supported by findings from a FEMA after-action report: 

During the early stages of this disaster, the limited availability of DAEs and TACs [Technical Assistance Contractors] prevented FEMA from manning the debris towers. Due to this applicant monitors made higher calls. This Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal resulted in a 15 to 20% increase in debris costs statewide. Most of the calls were between 90 to 100%. 

If available personnel could be quickly deployed FEMA would have saved $20 million on this disaster alone.6 6 FEMA Remedial Action Issue 1791-I-47, Event # 1781-DR-TX, Texas Hurricane Ike, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal March 31, 2010. FEMA's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 32 Delayed Project Closeouts Exacerbate Problems 

A key debris management and oversight issue is the need to estimate, scope, and close out projects appropriately and timely. Numerous officials reported that waste, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal fraud, and abuse tend to multiply toward the end of debris projects, when the debris mission starts winding down and contractors become "more creative in filling their trucks." 

This is a theme that cuts across all PA program areas and has been addressed by us, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and others. Our recent report7 identified a number of recommendations for closing out disasters more promptly and efficiently. 

Developing a Performance Measurement Framework Although FEMA spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to support, plan, and implement debris removal programs across the country, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal there is no integrated performance measurement framework to manage and provide oversight over this complex activity. 

A contractor has been hired to develop an improved tracking system. Ideally, program managers would have access to information to measure, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal analyze, and improve program performance. 

An integrated performance measurement system would enable managers to compare performance in different regions, under different scenarios, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal to provide fact-based information to partners and stakeholders regarding costs, contractor and partner performance, effectiveness, efficiency, and other factors determined to be important to future decision making. 

The need for a performance measurement framework surfaced at a number of states and localities. Officials said it would be helpful to have historical and Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal comparative cost data to assist in the evaluation and selection of debris removal and monitoring contractors. 

FEMA is working with a contractor to develop a cost model database that states and communities can use to compare prices of specific items, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal which will make the market for debris removal and monitoring services more open and transparent. 

Another area where better data is needed involves comparing the use of local government employees with the use of contractors to perform various Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal activities. Many officials believe that the overall cost of debris removal and monitoring would be reduced by using 7 Opportunities to Improve FEMA's Disaster Closeout Process, OIG-10-49, January 2010. 

FEMA's Oversight and Management of Debris Removal Operations Page 33 local government employees and Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal reimbursing municipalities for this direct labor cost for a limited period. Conclusion 

The quality of FEMA's management and oversight, especially following major disasters that overwhelm local capacity, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal is perhaps the key element in the success or failure of debris operations. Debris events are complex and involve multiple private and public sector entities working together in an often chaotic post disaster environment. 

FEMA has made significant strides toward improving its management and oversight capacity, but opportunities remain for further improvement. These opportunities involve the staffing, structure, and Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal design of key management and oversight activities. Debris expertise is not always clearly evident in FEMA's early response teams assigned to a disaster. 

FEMA personnel may not always be positioned in locations to optimize their oversight and control functions. Debris guidance is at times incomplete, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal unclear, or ambiguous despite FEMA's attempts to address all aspects of debris removal. 

A more principles-based rather than rules-based regulatory framework that allowed for increased local decision making could be an improvement over the present system. Finally, Hurricane Damage Causing Tree Removal an integrated performance measurement framework would give FEMA and its stakeholders data and tools to measure, analyze, and improve debris operations.

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