Should Disaster Grants Be Means Tested?

Congress and the Executive Branch are looking for places to reduce federal obligations over the next decade. Disaster grants are likely to be looked at closely. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act [Public Law 100-707] which supplemented, revised, and rescinded portions of Public Law 93-288 as amended, the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 will probably not escape review. In 1974 non-profit orgs that provided community services were added to the elgible category that has since expanded. Other types of expansion of grant elgibility have also expanded.

My belief is that the fairest change would be to means test the Individual and Family Grant program that now allows without means testing up to $35,000 for each disaster. My second choice would be to enact a flat standard overhead rate for the STATES and their subgrantees the Local Governments for each declared disaster and/or emergency. My suggestion would be 15% overhead as a charge to the total grant amount. Finally I would ensure that Presidential declarations allowing 100% federal contributions–a policy that destroys any efforts to mitigate future disasters–should only occur where governmental capability has actually been adversely impacted by the disaster or emergency event. More and more STATES are putting political pressure on to waive the federal-state cost share arrangements and are successful in getting 100% federal funding. The exception would be under section 501 where the federal government determines the disaster or emergency event is one in which the federal government has unique federal interests.

For other aspects of disaster reform go to


About vlg338
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