More than one employee in 10 will be furloughed from the Homeland Security Department should Congress fail to approve a funding measure by midnight Monday--and some offices within DHS will see nearly all staff prevented from coming to work. The reasons for the variance are due to the different funding mechanisms and missions of DHS components.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's budget request for the coming year didn't include any new funding for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program because it's duplicative and because states tended to spend money received through it on planning, a FEMA official told a Sept. 19 House panel.
The National Flood Insurance Program reform law passed into law last year doesn't give the federal government authority to delay or lessen rate increases, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said. "If I had a way to do it based upon anything other than the technical implementation of the program, I don't see it," he said.
More than 300 people remain unaccounted for as federal assistance has begun to go out to victims of recent flooding in Colorado, Joseph Nimmich of FEMA said during a House hearing Sept. 18. The flooding has destroyed at least 1,600 homes, and thousands more are endangered. Some sewage and wastewater facilities were likely destroyed as well.
Flash flood warnings and watches remain in effect in counties along Colorado's Front Range and eastern plain where heavy rains have swollen usually thin streams into torrents that have killed at least five people and destroyed at least 1,502 houses. Nearly 200 miles from north to south in the state's most heavily populated area located along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains have been affected by floods, mudslides and landslides.
Prospective homeland security secretary Thad Allen testified Sept. 11 before a receptive Senate committee to which the former Coast Guard commandant would have to return were he to be nominated. Speculation about the next Homeland Security Department secretary has included Allen as a strong possibility.
The Homeland Security Department should use its second quadrennial review to address the future of non-homeland security missions incorporated within the department through "the most diverse merger of federal functions and responsibilities the nation has ever experienced," urges a paper published in August by the Homeland Security Affairs journal.
In the wake of major disasters in the past, agencies have waived regulations to support the affected region. After Hurricane Katrina, the Transportation Department waived restrictions on trucker hours, and the Internal Revenue Service allowed taxpayers to file tax returns later without penalties, for example.
The review commissioned by FEMA found problems with the typical reimbursement process, stating that among other things, the long interval between debris removal and contractor payments drives up costs. FierceHomelandSecurity obtained an abridged copy of the review through a FOIA request.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized on Aug. 26 the use of federal fire management assistance grants for California to fight the fire, making FEMA money available to reimburse up to 75 percent of its costs.