Issue Brief: FEMA Grants Administration

Updated January 2005


Since its enactment in 1974, the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act has provided the basis for federal assistance to state and local governments impacted by a significant disaster or emergency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), created by a Presidential Reorganization Plan of April 1979, is now part of the Department of Homeland Security and responsible for leading the nation’s efforts to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disasters. FEMA has primary responsibility for administering assistance to state governments. FEMA provides aid to a particular state—the “grantee”—affected by a declared disaster; that state in turn distributes financial assistance to affected localities—the “subgrantee”.


GFOA Activities

The Government Finance Officers Association has begun discussions with FEMA regarding the policies and procedures FEMA follows when assisting states with disaster assistance and recovery via grants. GFOA’s goal in these discussions is to ultimately achieve greater consistency and finality in the federal-state disaster assistance program


GFOA is particularly concerned with ensuring that post-recovery, FEMA audits are consistent with pre-grant, FEMA rules and expectations of the grantee. State and local government finance officers are concerned that post-recovery audits often employ different rules and different expectations than first stated at the start of a disaster recovery process.


We will continue to develop a relationship with FEMA represents to provide local and state governments with effiecient methods of working with FEMA on auditing issues.




GFOA • Federal Liaison Center • (202) 393-8020 • (202) 393-0780 FAX • Email