February 01, 2019

One Size Doesn’t Fit All – Navigating Your Public Assistance Disaster Recovery Administrative Cost Options

On October 5, 2018, the President signed the Disaster Recovery Reform Act[i] into law, ushering in the most significant changes to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act in a generation. Over the last few weeks, I have responded to several calls from subrecipients seeking clarity related to their administrative costs, primarily because for all major disasters and emergencies declared between August 1, 2017 and October 5, 2018, they now have multiple options in choosing how FEMA treats those costs. The short answer is—when given options, one size doesn’t fit all. 

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

December 05, 2017

Davis-Bacon: Lessons Learned

The first time I read “Davis-Bacon Labor Standards: A Contractor’s Guide to Prevailing Wage Requirements for Federally-Assisted Construction Projects,” the document review process seemed simple and straightforward. However, after years of reviewing, digging down into the details and reading articles about Davis-Bacon and its origin, it’s not quite as straightforward as one might think.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery, CDBG

October 17, 2017

Keep Your Head Above Water

With tropical storms and hurricanes dominating the news—and many of our day-to-day lives—it’s important to think about flood insurance. Hurricane Harvey dumped over 50 inches of rain onto Texas in a short span of time. Hurricane Irma brought rain and storm surge levels that put much of the lower part of the state underwater. You don’t have to look far to see why flood insurance is so vital.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

October 10, 2017

Recovery for the Short and Long Term

CDBG-DR funds serve as a lifeline to survivors of catastrophic events. These programs have measurably improved the quality of life for so many impacted citizens, particularly our most vulnerable residents. Following the wake of the hurricanes that have hit both Texas and Florida, CDBG-DR programs are more crucial than ever, working with disaster relief and aiding people in need of housing, infrastructure, and economic development.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

September 05, 2017

Wherever the Path May Lead

I sit and watch the devastation that Texas is facing and am flooded with emotion. Twelve years ago, I was one of those people I see on television. It’s just so hard to watch. I know what is coming. I know what they will face in terms of trying to pick up the pieces.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

August 28, 2017

The Texas Way

With a resilient job market, great Mexican food, and small-town feel, the Texas Gulf Coast is a great place to call home. According to the Texas Relocation Report, “Texas experienced a net gain of 107,689 out-of-state residents in 2015, a 4 percent increase from 2014.” As a good neighbor should, I welcome you to Friday night lights, longhorns and warm Texas weather. As we native Texans know, with triple digit summer days come hurricanes.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

August 22, 2017

Subrecipient Monitoring and Its Impact on Your Program

When a grantee passes federal funding to a subrecipient who follows through with a project or program, a true partnership is created. Both the grantee and the subrecipient are responsible for proper performance and compliance with the grant activities.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery, CDBG

June 13, 2017

Proper Treatment of Activity Delivery Costs That Can't Be Tied to a Final Cost Objective

In the disaster recovery world, costs incurred as a result of implementing and executing allowable CDBG activities are known “Activity Delivery Costs.” These costs are directly attributable to a CDBG project or activity.  These costs are not governed by 24 CFR 570.205-.206 and, therefore, aren’t subject to the 20% cap. According to CPD Notice 13-07, Activity Delivery Costs are treated as part of the total cost for delivering a Final Cost Objective under a CDBG program.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery, CDBG

February 28, 2017

Don’t Just Put Out Fires

After a natural disaster strikes, the process of disaster recovery is overwhelming. With so many moving parts and different groups of people involved in building a successful program, recovery can be more than daunting. Case managers, construction workers, project managers, program administrators, government agencies and the damaged homeowners themselves all must effectively coordinate, communicate, and work together to reach the ultimate goal of community rehabilitation.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery, CDBG

February 07, 2017

Thrive Instead of Just Survive

Many communities all over the country struggle with being able to provide decent, safe, and sanitary affordable rental housing to their residents. When you have a mission of creating a place for people to flourish, navigating the ins and outs of funding is vital. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds are often used to acquire, rehabilitate, or construct multi-family rental housing.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery, CDBG

November 29, 2016

Compressing the Recovery Timeline

I often take the accomplishments of our team for granted when I know that faster should be possible. It’s not a dissatisfaction with our people or our systems, but an unwillingness to accept that disaster recovery, by nature, takes years when impacted communities need help now.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

November 08, 2016

The Experience You Need

Recently, HUD and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued the Fall 2016 Integrity Bulletin entitled "Implementing the Five Key Internal Controls." This bulletin describes the five standards of an effective internal control structure. In it, responsibility is clearly assigned for the control environment to the management that’s overseeing the grant.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

October 25, 2016

But, What If? Are You Prepared If the Unthinkable Happens?

That Could Never Happen To Me. But, what if?

This is a question I have had to ask myself after hearing about recent violent events. I have come to the correct conclusion that I have responsibility for workplace safety and national security. No, I am not a member of law enforcement, branch of the military or Homeland Security. I am however a part of the American Public.

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Topics: Disaster Recovery

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