FEMA’s Public Assistance program provides assistance to state agencies, local governments and certain private nonprofits.
When flooding struck Colorado in September 2013, emergency life-saving measures and debris cleanup were the most immediate needs. This emergency work is usually the first to be reimbursed.
Later, in the recovery phase, more permanent repair work gets underway. Roads and bridges are repaired or replaced; major utilities and other infrastructure are brought back on line.
FEMA determines eligibility, conducts environmental and historic preservation review, approves projects and obligates the federal share or 75 percent of the project cost. FEMA obligates funds to the state, which reviews receipts and other documentation to make sure the job is done well and taxpayer money is well spent.
In Colorado, local governments and the state each pay 12.5 percent of the remaining project costs but private nonprofits pay all of the remaining 25 percent. For state agencies, the cost share depends on the category of work.
• For small projects (up to $67,500 for this disaster), an initial payment is made based on the estimate and the state reimbursement process is as follows:
• Once a Project Worksheet is approved and obligated by FEMA, the state makes an initial payment for the entire amount of the federal share and one-half of the state share. Once the state receives a completed and signed certificate of completion from the subgrantee, the state will pay the remaining half of its share.
• For large projects ($67,500 or more for this disaster), reimbursement is made on documented actual costs and the state reimbursement process requires additional documentation:
• The state sends a grant agreement to the subgrantee for signature by an authorized official, who then must mail two signed hard copies back to the state.
• After the agreement is executed by Division and Department Controller, one hard copy is mailed back to the subgrantee.
• As work is completed the subgrantee requests reimbursement from the state. The state will review documentation (invoices, receipts, labor records, equipment records, contracts) to substantiate costs included in the reimbursement requests and make payments for documented and eligible costs. The last 10 percent is paid upon project closeout.
• The state also agrees to reimburse a subgrantee from an unpaid invoice to help maintain its cash flow needs.
• To help applicants understand the Public Assistance document process, the State of Colorado created a Public Assistance Technical Guidance and emailed it to each subgrantee. It includes information on the reimbursement process as well as grants management requirements. The guidance document and forms can be downloaded from corecovers.info.
• Questions about the process used by the state for disbursing funds to applicants should be addressed to Scott Baldwin, State Public Assistance Group Supervisor, at Scott.Baldwin@state.co.us.