FEMA Disaster Deductible Concept

The Honorable Craig Fugate
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472-3100

RE: Docket No. FEMA-2016-0003, Establishing a Deductible for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program

Dear Administrator Fugate:

We appreciate the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) efforts to engage with governors and state officials to obtain their perspective on proposed changes to FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program.

For many years, the PA program has served a vital function for states recovering from floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other devastating events. States affected by declared disasters have benefited from this program in a myriad of ways, including the ability to rebuild schools, roads and entire communities. As a result of those federal, state and local investments, the economic vitality of affected communities has persevered and even prospered.

Though we are committed to collaborating with FEMA to develop effective strategies that increase resiliency and mitigate future losses, the PA program is an important component of helping states and local governments ensure a full recovery from disasters. We encourage FEMA to maintain the current threshold requirements without imposing additional financial burdens on state and local governments through a deductible.

To further the ongoing dialogue with our federal partners on this important issue, the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee led an effort to collect and submit comments to the FEMA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FEMA 2016-0003) issued January 20. The feedback the committee received reflects a wide range of opinion among the states. Several responses indicate outright opposition to the proposal, while others are more supportive of the concept as an alternative to raising the thresholds for receiving federal disaster assistance. Despite these differences, the committee identified several key areas of concern that apply to any changes to the PA program, including recognizing different state needs and capabilities; providing incentives to invest in resiliency; and mitigating administrative complexity and cost. Those comments are summarized in the attached memo.

Overall, states recognize the growing impact of disasters to government budgets and the need to encourage additional investment into mitigation and resiliency activities that will better protect communities and reduce the cost of future disasters. The PA deductible would be a significant change in FEMA policy that will affect state budgets and how states plan and execute emergency operations in the future. We encourage continued engagement with NGA and states as FEMA proceeds with the federal rulemaking process on the deductible concept or considers other modifications or statutory changes to the PA program. Thank you again for including governors in this critically important discussion.


Governor Jay Nixon
Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee

Governor Asa Hutchinson
Vice Chair
Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee