Press Release


McCaul, Brooks: No Justification for FEMA’s Costly Administrative Expenses

Media Contact: Lauren Claffey; April Ward (202) 226-8477

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report detailing Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) administrative costs related to disaster relief expenditures.

The 73-page report entitled, “Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Oversight of Administrative Costs for Major Disasters,” was originally requested by U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, and Susan W. Brooks, chairman of the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.

Chairman McCaul: “The fact that FEMA spent $12.7 billion on administrative costs is unacceptable. FEMA should be spending money on vital assistance for those negatively impacted by disasters – not on excessive administrative costs. Taxpayers deserve responsible, and effective disaster relief and the committee will continue to monitor FEMA’s management of taxpayer funds to ensure the national response to disasters is efficient and fiscally responsible.”

Subcommittee Chairman Brooks: “As the GAO report demonstrates, FEMA lacks adequate metrics to justify spending $12.7 billion over almost a decade on logistical and administrative costs. FEMA must take immediate steps to ensure the responsible expenditure of Disaster Relief Fund resources, with the ultimate goal of more efficient and effective disaster response and recovery.”

GAO found that from fiscal years 2004 to 2013, FEMA spent $12.7 billion or 13% of the Disaster Relief Fund on administrative costs. During this same period, 32% more major disasters received obligations from the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) than in the preceding fiscal years. This time frame accounted for 650 major disasters.

However, part of FEMA’s Strategic Plan for 2014-2018 is to reduce the administrative costs by 5%. GAO recommends that FEMA establish a unified plan to effectively control and lower administrative costs for major disasters, assesses the cost versus the benefits of tracking administrative requests for disaster relief funds, and produces guidance on the documentation requirements of administration costs.  

Read GAO’s full report HERE.

Read a previous press release on the recently released GAO report showing FEMA put millions of disaster relief dollars at risk of improper use or fraud.