Simplified Procedures Project Thresholds for the Public Assistance Program, 68899-68900 [2014-27470]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 223 / Wednesday, November 19, 2014 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Docket ID FEMA–2014–0009] Simplified Procedures Project Thresholds for the Public Assistance Program Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: On February 26, 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a final rule (79 FR 10685) revising the monetary thresholds for when FEMA will process an application using simplified procedures under its Public Assistance Program. FEMA based the revised thresholds on an analysis it completed pursuant to the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. The findings of the analysis were submitted in a Report to Congress on January 29, 2014. FEMA is seeking comment on the findings in this Report to inform any future revisions to the project thresholds. DATES: Comments must be received by January 20, 2015. ADDRESSES: Comments must be identified by docket ID FEMA–2014– 0009 and may be submitted by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Mail: Regulatory Affairs Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Room 8NE, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472–3100. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liza Davis, Associate Chief Counsel, Regulatory Affairs, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, 202–646–4046, liza.davis@fema.dhs.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES I. Public Participation Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket ID. Regardless of the method used for submitting comments or material, all submissions will be posted, without change, to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov, and will include any personal information you provide. Therefore, submitting this information makes it public. You may wish to read the Privacy Act notice, which can be viewed by clicking on the ‘‘Privacy VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:16 Nov 18, 2014 Jkt 235001 Notice’’ link in the footer of www.regulations.gov. You may submit your comments and material by the methods specified in the ADDRESSES section of this Notice. Please submit your comments and any supporting material by only one means to avoid the receipt and review of duplicate submissions. Docket: The Report to Congress and the final rule are available in docket ID FEMA–2014–0009. For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov and search for the docket ID. Submitted comments may also be inspected at FEMA, Office of Chief Counsel, Room 8NE, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472. II. Background FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides grants to State, Tribal, and local governments, as well as eligible private nonprofit organizations, for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities after a Presidentially-declared emergency or major disaster.1 Each grant award is categorized as either a large or small project, which is determined by a monetary threshold set each year by FEMA pursuant to statute.2 The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 (SRIA) 3 required FEMA to analyze the thresholds, and, based on its findings, to implement new thresholds immediately. FEMA submitted a Report to Congress, ‘‘Determination of the Public Assistance Simplified Procedures Thresholds,’’ on January 29, 2014.4 The report included a summary of FEMA’s analysis and findings. FEMA implemented the new thresholds based on those findings on February 26, 2014 via a final rule.5 FEMA raised the 1 The Public Assistance program is authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5170a, 5170b, 5172, 5173, 5192. 2 See 42 U.S.C. 5189; 44 CFR 206.203(c), 206.205. FEMA obligates money for a small project based on an estimate of the project cost; FEMA obligates money for a large project based on actual project costs as the project progresses and cost documentation is provided to FEMA. See 44 CFR 206.203(c); Public Assistance Guide, FEMA 322 (June 2007), Chapter 3, ‘‘Applying for Public Assistance,’’ ‘‘Project Formulation’’ available at http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-statetribal-and-non-profit/public-assistance-guide-3. 3 Public Law 113–2, section 1107, codified in relevant part at 42 U.S.C. 5189. 4 Both the Report to Congress and the Final Rule are included in the docket for this Notice on www.regulations.gov under Docket ID FEMA–2014– 0009. A copy of the report is also available at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/ documents/90458. 5 See 79 FR 10685 (Feb. 26, 2014). PO 00000 Frm 00058 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 68899 maximum threshold from $68,500 to $120,000; all projects below this amount are categorized as small projects, and all projects at or above this amount are categorized as large projects. FEMA raised the minimum threshold from $1,000 to $3,000.6 Both the maximum and minimum threshold will be adjusted annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI) published by the U.S. Department of Labor. FEMA is seeking comment on the findings that are included in its Report to Congress, ‘‘Determination on the Public Assistance Simplified Procedures Thresholds,’’ to inform possible future revisions to the maximum and minimum thresholds. III. Public Comment FEMA welcomes comments on all aspects of the report. In general, FEMA expects that comments will be most useful if accompanied by supportive data and a recommendation for future action. FEMA is particularly interested in responses to the following questions: 1. How will the revised thresholds impact your State, Tribe, jurisdiction, or community? For example, please consider how the revised thresholds might impact the administrative costs of processing grants, the timeliness of receiving recovery funds, and the ability to ensure proper use of Public Assistance grant funding. Please provide data to support your statement, if available. If available please provide input on the following: a. How does the process to administer and close out Public Assistance grants vary between large and small projects in your State, Tribe, and/or local jurisdiction? (i.e., for both large and small projects, how does your State, Tribe, and/or local jurisdiction manage grants, disburse funds, conduct final projects inspections, verify the completion of the proposed scope of work, close out the projects, or require any other procedures for closing out a project)? b. For large projects, how much time is typically spent per request for disbursement of additional funds based on completed work? c. Since small project grants can be awarded based on the estimates, will the increase in the maximum threshold save time for subgrantees and grantees? If so, will this time be saved from: i. Reducing requests for additional funds for large projects as work progresses? 6 See E:\FR\FM\19NON1.SGM id. 19NON1 mstockstill on DSK4VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 68900 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 223 / Wednesday, November 19, 2014 / Notices ii. The need to track and reconcile actual costs? iii. Other savings? d. Does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction reconcile actual costs for both small and large projects regardless of Federal requirements? e. What is the average amount of time spent on reconciling (if applicable and assuming the subgrantee is not requesting a net small project overrun) and closing a project, considering project amounts near the previous and current maximum thresholds, for example: i. Between $40,000 and $68,500? ii. Between $68,500 and $120,000? iii. Between $120,000 and $200,000? f. Will there be a reduction in the number of final site inspections for projects between $68,500 and $120,000? g. What is the average amount of time spent on a final site inspection for a project between $68,500 and $120,000? h. If the increased maximum threshold would decrease the number of final site inspections, will that create grantee and/or subgrantees cost savings on transportation, lodging, per diem, travel time and other associated final inspection costs? If so, what are the estimated savings? i. Are there impacts to other processes and/or savings generated by the change in the maximum threshold for the grantees and/or subgrantees? If so, what are these impacts and savings? j. Will the maximum threshold change cause challenges to the grantees and subgrantees? If available, please provide any solutions to the identified challenges. k. What processes does your State, Tribe or jurisdiction have in place to alleviate waste, fraud and abuse? l. As a grantee, does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction perform audits on small projects? If so, can you estimate how much it costs to complete the audit? m. Does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction foresee or plan to change your policies, procedures, laws, or regulations in response to the new maximum threshold? For example: i. Grantee/subgrantee cost shares for large or small projects (if so, can you estimate how much or by what percentage change)? ii. Reconciliation for large or small projects? iii. Audits for large or small projects? iv. Additional consolidation of work on small projects? 2. How will the change to the minimum threshold impact your State, Tribe, jurisdiction, or community? For example, please consider how it might impact the administrative costs of processing grants, the timeliness of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:16 Nov 18, 2014 Jkt 235001 receiving recovery funds, and the ability to ensure proper use of Public Assistance grant funding. Please provide data to support your statement, if available. a. How many projects between $1,000 and $3,000 would be consolidated into a single project worksheet over $3,000 based on a logical grouping of work (which is the current standard)? If not many, why? b. Are there obstacles to project consolidation that FEMA needs to consider? If so, please provide solutions to the identified obstacles. c. Is there a way to track the number of projects that will be consolidated? Would your State, Tribe, jurisdiction, or community be willing to submit data to support an estimate of the number of consolidated projects and/or participate in a survey to collect data? d. Is there a way to track the number of projects that did not meet the minimum threshold and will not be consolidated? Would your State, Tribe, jurisdiction, or community be willing to submit data to support an estimate of the number of consolidated project and/ or participate in a survey to collect data? e. Will greater consolidation of projects based on a logical grouping of work under the minimum threshold save time in the closeout of a small project? For example, will closing one consolidated project worksheet save time compared to closing three separate project worksheets? f. Does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction foresee or plan to change your policies, procedures, laws, or regulations in response to the new minimum threshold? For example: i. Training and policies for project consolidation and logical grouping. ii. Change to disaster assistance minimum thresholds in your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction, if applicable. 3. Do you have other comments or recommendations related to this subject that you would like to share for FEMA’s consideration? Authority: 42 U.S.C. 5189. [FR Doc. 2014–27470 Filed 11–18–14; 8:45 am] PO 00000 Frm 00059 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [OMB Control Number 1615–0064] Agency Information Collection Activities: OMB–25, Special Immigrant Visas for Fourth Preference Employment-Based Broadcasters; Extension, Without Change, of a Currently Approved Collection ACTION: 30-Day Notice. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be submitting the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and clearance in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The information collection notice was previously published in the Federal Register on August 21, 2014, at 79 FR 49529, allowing for a 60-day public comment period. USCIS did not receive any comment in connection with the 60day notice. DATES: The purpose of this notice is to allow an additional 30 days for public comments. Comments are encouraged and will be accepted until December 19, 2014. This process is conducted in accordance with 5 CFR 1320.10. ADDRESSES: Written comments and/or suggestions regarding the item(s) contained in this notice, especially regarding the estimated public burden and associated response time, must be directed to the OMB USCIS Desk Officer via email at oira_submission@ omb.eop.gov. Comments may also be submitted via fax at (202) 395–5806. All submissions received must include the agency name and the OMB Control Number 1615–0064. You may wish to consider limiting the amount of personal information that you provide in any voluntary submission you make. For additional information please read the Privacy Act notice that is available via the link in the footer of http://www.regulations.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Comments Dated: November 7, 2014. W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency. BILLING CODE 9111–23–P DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Note: The address listed in this notice should only be used to submit comments concerning this information collection. Please do not submit requests for individual case status inquiries to this address. If you are seeking information about the status of your individual case, please check ‘‘My Case Status’’ online at: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/ Dashboard.do, or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1–800–375–5283. E:\FR\FM\19NON1.SGM 19NON1

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[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 223 (Wednesday, November 19, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 68899-68900]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-27470]



[[Page 68899]]

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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Federal Emergency Management Agency

[Docket ID FEMA-2014-0009]


Simplified Procedures Project Thresholds for the Public 
Assistance Program

AGENCY: Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: On February 26, 2014, the Federal Emergency Management Agency 
(FEMA) published a final rule (79 FR 10685) revising the monetary 
thresholds for when FEMA will process an application using simplified 
procedures under its Public Assistance Program. FEMA based the revised 
thresholds on an analysis it completed pursuant to the Sandy Recovery 
Improvement Act of 2013. The findings of the analysis were submitted in 
a Report to Congress on January 29, 2014. FEMA is seeking comment on 
the findings in this Report to inform any future revisions to the 
project thresholds.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 20, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Comments must be identified by docket ID FEMA-2014-0009 and 
may be submitted by one of the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments.
    Mail: Regulatory Affairs Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal 
Emergency Management Agency, Room 8NE, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 
20472-3100.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Liza Davis, Associate Chief Counsel, 
Regulatory Affairs, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Emergency 
Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, 202-646-
4046, liza.davis@fema.dhs.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Public Participation

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket ID. Regardless of the method used for submitting comments or 
material, all submissions will be posted, without change, to the 
Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, and will 
include any personal information you provide. Therefore, submitting 
this information makes it public. You may wish to read the Privacy Act 
notice, which can be viewed by clicking on the ``Privacy Notice'' link 
in the footer of www.regulations.gov.
    You may submit your comments and material by the methods specified 
in the ADDRESSES section of this Notice. Please submit your comments 
and any supporting material by only one means to avoid the receipt and 
review of duplicate submissions.
    Docket: The Report to Congress and the final rule are available in 
docket ID FEMA-2014-0009. For access to the docket to read background 
documents or comments received, go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
http://www.regulations.gov and search for the docket ID. Submitted 
comments may also be inspected at FEMA, Office of Chief Counsel, Room 
8NE, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472.

II. Background

    FEMA's Public Assistance program provides grants to State, Tribal, 
and local governments, as well as eligible private nonprofit 
organizations, for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and 
the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged facilities 
after a Presidentially-declared emergency or major disaster.\1\ Each 
grant award is categorized as either a large or small project, which is 
determined by a monetary threshold set each year by FEMA pursuant to 
statute.\2\ The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 (SRIA) \3\ 
required FEMA to analyze the thresholds, and, based on its findings, to 
implement new thresholds immediately. FEMA submitted a Report to 
Congress, ``Determination of the Public Assistance Simplified 
Procedures Thresholds,'' on January 29, 2014.\4\ The report included a 
summary of FEMA's analysis and findings. FEMA implemented the new 
thresholds based on those findings on February 26, 2014 via a final 
rule.\5\ FEMA raised the maximum threshold from $68,500 to $120,000; 
all projects below this amount are categorized as small projects, and 
all projects at or above this amount are categorized as large projects. 
FEMA raised the minimum threshold from $1,000 to $3,000.\6\ Both the 
maximum and minimum threshold will be adjusted annually to reflect 
changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI) 
published by the U.S. Department of Labor.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The Public Assistance program is authorized by the Robert T. 
Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, 
42 U.S.C. 5170a, 5170b, 5172, 5173, 5192.
    \2\ See 42 U.S.C. 5189; 44 CFR 206.203(c), 206.205. FEMA 
obligates money for a small project based on an estimate of the 
project cost; FEMA obligates money for a large project based on 
actual project costs as the project progresses and cost 
documentation is provided to FEMA. See 44 CFR 206.203(c); Public 
Assistance Guide, FEMA 322 (June 2007), Chapter 3, ``Applying for 
Public Assistance,'' ``Project Formulation'' available at http://www.fema.gov/public-assistance-local-state-tribal-and-non-profit/public-assistance-guide-3.
    \3\ Public Law 113-2, section 1107, codified in relevant part at 
42 U.S.C. 5189.
    \4\ Both the Report to Congress and the Final Rule are included 
in the docket for this Notice on www.regulations.gov under Docket ID 
FEMA-2014-0009. A copy of the report is also available at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/90458.
    \5\ See 79 FR 10685 (Feb. 26, 2014).
    \6\ See id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    FEMA is seeking comment on the findings that are included in its 
Report to Congress, ``Determination on the Public Assistance Simplified 
Procedures Thresholds,'' to inform possible future revisions to the 
maximum and minimum thresholds.

III. Public Comment

    FEMA welcomes comments on all aspects of the report. In general, 
FEMA expects that comments will be most useful if accompanied by 
supportive data and a recommendation for future action. FEMA is 
particularly interested in responses to the following questions:
    1. How will the revised thresholds impact your State, Tribe, 
jurisdiction, or community? For example, please consider how the 
revised thresholds might impact the administrative costs of processing 
grants, the timeliness of receiving recovery funds, and the ability to 
ensure proper use of Public Assistance grant funding. Please provide 
data to support your statement, if available.
    If available please provide input on the following:
    a. How does the process to administer and close out Public 
Assistance grants vary between large and small projects in your State, 
Tribe, and/or local jurisdiction? (i.e., for both large and small 
projects, how does your State, Tribe, and/or local jurisdiction manage 
grants, disburse funds, conduct final projects inspections, verify the 
completion of the proposed scope of work, close out the projects, or 
require any other procedures for closing out a project)?
    b. For large projects, how much time is typically spent per request 
for disbursement of additional funds based on completed work?
    c. Since small project grants can be awarded based on the 
estimates, will the increase in the maximum threshold save time for 
subgrantees and grantees? If so, will this time be saved from:
    i. Reducing requests for additional funds for large projects as 
work progresses?

[[Page 68900]]

    ii. The need to track and reconcile actual costs?
    iii. Other savings?
    d. Does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction reconcile actual costs 
for both small and large projects regardless of Federal requirements?
    e. What is the average amount of time spent on reconciling (if 
applicable and assuming the subgrantee is not requesting a net small 
project overrun) and closing a project, considering project amounts 
near the previous and current maximum thresholds, for example:
    i. Between $40,000 and $68,500?
    ii. Between $68,500 and $120,000?
    iii. Between $120,000 and $200,000?
    f. Will there be a reduction in the number of final site 
inspections for projects between $68,500 and $120,000?
    g. What is the average amount of time spent on a final site 
inspection for a project between $68,500 and $120,000?
    h. If the increased maximum threshold would decrease the number of 
final site inspections, will that create grantee and/or subgrantees 
cost savings on transportation, lodging, per diem, travel time and 
other associated final inspection costs? If so, what are the estimated 
savings?
    i. Are there impacts to other processes and/or savings generated by 
the change in the maximum threshold for the grantees and/or 
subgrantees? If so, what are these impacts and savings?
    j. Will the maximum threshold change cause challenges to the 
grantees and subgrantees? If available, please provide any solutions to 
the identified challenges.
    k. What processes does your State, Tribe or jurisdiction have in 
place to alleviate waste, fraud and abuse?
    l. As a grantee, does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction perform 
audits on small projects? If so, can you estimate how much it costs to 
complete the audit?
    m. Does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction foresee or plan to 
change your policies, procedures, laws, or regulations in response to 
the new maximum threshold? For example:
    i. Grantee/subgrantee cost shares for large or small projects (if 
so, can you estimate how much or by what percentage change)?
    ii. Reconciliation for large or small projects?
    iii. Audits for large or small projects?
    iv. Additional consolidation of work on small projects?
    2. How will the change to the minimum threshold impact your State, 
Tribe, jurisdiction, or community? For example, please consider how it 
might impact the administrative costs of processing grants, the 
timeliness of receiving recovery funds, and the ability to ensure 
proper use of Public Assistance grant funding. Please provide data to 
support your statement, if available.
    a. How many projects between $1,000 and $3,000 would be 
consolidated into a single project worksheet over $3,000 based on a 
logical grouping of work (which is the current standard)? If not many, 
why?
    b. Are there obstacles to project consolidation that FEMA needs to 
consider? If so, please provide solutions to the identified obstacles.
    c. Is there a way to track the number of projects that will be 
consolidated? Would your State, Tribe, jurisdiction, or community be 
willing to submit data to support an estimate of the number of 
consolidated projects and/or participate in a survey to collect data?
    d. Is there a way to track the number of projects that did not meet 
the minimum threshold and will not be consolidated? Would your State, 
Tribe, jurisdiction, or community be willing to submit data to support 
an estimate of the number of consolidated project and/or participate in 
a survey to collect data?
    e. Will greater consolidation of projects based on a logical 
grouping of work under the minimum threshold save time in the closeout 
of a small project? For example, will closing one consolidated project 
worksheet save time compared to closing three separate project 
worksheets?
    f. Does your State, Tribe, or jurisdiction foresee or plan to 
change your policies, procedures, laws, or regulations in response to 
the new minimum threshold? For example:
    i. Training and policies for project consolidation and logical 
grouping.
    ii. Change to disaster assistance minimum thresholds in your State, 
Tribe, or jurisdiction, if applicable.
    3. Do you have other comments or recommendations related to this 
subject that you would like to share for FEMA's consideration?

    Authority:  42 U.S.C. 5189.

    Dated: November 7, 2014.
W. Craig Fugate,
Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
[FR Doc. 2014-27470 Filed 11-18-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-23-P