Congressional Affairs Advisory
FEMA IMPACTS DURING THE LAPSE IN FISCAL 2018 APPROPRIATIONS
January 22, 2018
During a lapse in funding, DHS/FEMA will acknowledge - but cannot process - requests from governors or tribal leaders for presidential declarations of a major disaster or emergency unless the request is determined necessary for the protection of life and property.
During a lapse in appropriations, disaster recovery support for states, tribes and communities affected by previous disasters will be affected – recovery payments for presidential disaster declarations will be delayed because FEMA staff who process Public Assistance payments will be furloughed.
A lapse in funding will cause state, tribal and local first responders to miss training opportunities to meet the nation’s emergency needs.
Without annual appropriations, the FEMA staff who are exempt from furlough may only provide services that directly apply to the protection of human life, safety or the protection property.
Permanent full time employees whose salaries are funded under annual appropriation who are exempt from furlough will be able to perform duties that support disaster work, so long as the duties they perform do not replace work that an employee would do under annually appropriated funds.
Impacts on Public Assistance Grants
- Public Assistance project worksheets can be processed by Stafford Act employees until reaching the point in time when the work requires an intersection with furloughed full-time permanent staff and/or approval for financial obligation is required.
- This means that during a lapse in appropriations, FEMA may not be able to provide final approval for Public Assistance project worksheets or the corresponding obligation of funding to Smartlink for Public Assistance applicants, including states, tribes, and municipalities.
Impacts on Individual Assistance Grants
- During a funding lapse, the FEMA Individual Assistance program will continue to provide financial services and resources to support individuals and households that have been deemed eligible for assistance under a previously declared Presidential declaration, as funding for these activities are appropriated through the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF).
- Some disaster assistance for individuals, such as case management and crisis counseling, are funded by FEMA grants to states, tribes and local governments. If a state, tribe or municipality already received approved funds for these programs, the assistance will continue. However, new programs or changes to existing programs that require a review or approval from a furloughed employee will not be possible.
Impacts on the National Flood Insurance Program
- Because it was not renewed, the NFIP’s authorization has lapsed.
- During a lapse, policies that were in force before midnight on January 20, 2018, remain in force. The NFIP will process and pay claims under those policies as usual from the National Flood Insurance Fund and the National Flood Insurance Reserve Fund until depleting these funds, but will not have authority to borrow any additional funds from the U.S. Treasury.
- Existing flood insurance policies remain valid regardless of FEMA’s capacity to pay claims. FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the NFIP’s contracts with policyholders.
- The NFIP and its WYO partners may not issue new contracts for flood insurance during a lapse in authority unless Congress passes legislation reauthorizing the NFIP. During a lapse in authority, the NFIP will have limited ability to issue new policies, issue increased coverage on existing policies, or issue renewal policies.
Impacts on Preparedness Grants
- Most FEMA Grant Programs Directorate (GPD) federal staff will be furloughed. During the furlough, grantees will not be able to contact their headquarters or regional program analysts to obtain technical assistance or answers to questions, to process grant amendments, to apply for extensions, to conduct budget and Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) reviews, or to seek any other grant-related assistance.
- Where funding has already been awarded and released, grantees will still be able to draw down funds from grants managed in the FEMA Response, Recovery, Mitigation, National Preparedness and GPD divisions (except Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER), Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG), and Fire Prevention & Safety (FP&S)) through the Payment and Reporting System (PARS) and Smart-link systems, provided that all reporting submissions are up to date and no holds are in effect. However, there will be no federal or contractor staff available to resolve any rejected payment requests, problems related to holds, missing reports, or to reset passwords.
- In general, ongoing grant-funded projects for which funding has been awarded, obligated, and released by FEMA will not be affected by a lapse in appropriations. If no other hold has been placed, work on these projects can proceed unimpeded by the lack of appropriations.
- FEMA GPD staff will not be available by email or phone and are prohibited from answering any grantee questions regarding any issue or award.
- All GPD contract staff will be furloughed, so no GPD help desks will be staffed, including the Centralized Scheduling and Information Desk (ASKCSID), Grant Award and Administration Control Desk, and Assistance to Firefighters Grants Help Desk.
- Because manual approval is completed in the AFG program office for all payment requests, SAFER, AFG and FP&S program grantees will not be able to draw down funds during a lapse in appropriations.
Impacts on Training
- The FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) will be unable to deliver resident (on-site), field based, and virtual training programs. The Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) will be unable to deliver training to first responders.