The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently issued a proposed rule to revise the “Estimated cost of the assistance,” which is one of the factors FEMA’s Public Assistance Program considers when evaluating requests from states for major disaster declarations and making recommendations to the President.
The proposed rule aims to more accurately assess the disaster response capabilities of states and better distribute federal assistance. Currently, the estimated cost of federal and non-federal public assistance is evaluated against the state’s population to quantify the per capita impact. This per capita indicator is used to determine whether the disaster warrants federal assistance and is adjusted annually for inflation using the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumer (CPI-U).
A brief summary of the proposed rule follows:
- Adjusting the Per Capita Indicator – FEMA proposes to increase the per capita indicator to account for increases to the CPI-U between 1986 and 1999, which would amount to an increase from a FY 2019 value of $1.50 to about $2.32. The agency also proposes to adjust the increased, baseline per capita indicator by accounting for a state’s total taxable resources and not solely it’s population.
Annual Population Data – In addition, FEMA proposes to use the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual population estimates produced under the Population Estimates Program (PEP) rather than the decennial census population data produced every 10 years, which the agency currently uses to calculate each state’s Cost of Assistance (COA) Indicator.
Comments on the proposed changes are due February 12, 2021.