Consulting Services • Published 9/07/2021 Navigating FEMA Public Assistance and Cost Share
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When a disaster strikes, individuals and organizations often donate resources to assist with response activities. These resources can include cash donations, grants, volunteer labor, and donated supplies and equipment. Under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the assistance FEMA provides through its Public Assistance Program is subject to a cost share. The federal share typically covers 75% of eligible costs and the remaining 25% is the applicant’s responsibility to cost share or “match.” These donations are a key component to meeting the federal match requirement. There are three key considerations for match: the first 30 days, what is eligible as match, and how to document the match.

The First 30 Days: Match Considerations

In limited circumstances, the federal match may be increased. For example, in the recent Presidential Disaster Declaration for Hurricane Ida that made landfall in Louisiana, the federal cost share in Louisiana was increased to 100% for a limited time:

Hurricane Ida: For a period of 30 days from the start of the incident period, FEMA is authorized to provide federal funding for Category A and Category B at 100% of eligible costs.

When the president authorizes an increased federal cost share for a limited timeframe, FEMA applies it to all eligible costs related to work performed through 11:59 p.m. on the date of expiration. However, it is still very important to track all resources utilized or received during this time period to accurately document all match. For emergency work specifically, if there is a time-limited 100% federal cost share period:

  • If the applicant uses resources donated during this time period, it may use the value of those donated resources to offset the non-federal cost share incurred after the 100% federal cost share period expires.
  • If the applicant uses resources from its stock that were donated during a previous incident or timeframe, it may use the value of those donated resources to offset its non-federal cost share if the applicant has not claimed the resources as an offset in a previous incident.

What is Eligible as Match Under FEMA Public Assistance Program?

Grants and cash donations from non-federal sources and donated services, equipment, and supplies can be used to meet the match requirements of the program. The match is eligible when: the donated resource is from a third party; the donated resource is necessary and reasonable; the applicant uses the resource to perform eligible work and within period of performance; and the applicant tracks the resources and work performed to the project, including description, specific locations, and hours.

The value of a donated resource is ineligible as match if the resource is:

  • Donated by a federal agency
  • Donated by another federally-funded source
  • Funded through a federal award
  • Used as an offset to any other federal award
  • Used for ineligible work

As mentioned, match requirements generally cannot be paid with other federal funds. However, when specifically allowed in another federal program, federal funds may be used as match. One specifically allowable source of federal match is the HUD Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. CDBG-DR can be used to pay for eligible expenses on eligible project worksheets. States like Louisiana routinely use this approach to assist local entities, state agencies, and other PA applicants with their cost share requirement. There are challenges in using CDBG-DR to make the match: differences in program requirements, including in grant amounts as well and timing, can cause alignment difficulties. However, careful documentation and tracking will ensure that the match is properly applied and allowable.

How Should Match be Documented?

The applicant must track and document the following to support donated resources (not an all-inclusive list). This documentation is required. Proper documentation will support the requirements that the assistance is essential to meeting immediate threats resulting from the disaster and that the match is verifiable through the applicant’s records.

Documentation requirements for donated services, equipment or supplies:

For each individual providing an eligible service:

  • Sign-in sheet
  • Name
  • Title and function
  • Date, days, and hours worked
  • Location of work and description of work performed

Equipment:

  • Date and length of time operating equipment and specific backup documentation if applicant-owned
  • Who donated each piece of equipment

Supplies or materials:

  • Quantity used
  • Who donated
  • Location(s) used
  • Invoices or other documentation to validate claimed value

Disasters pose extreme challenges to the individuals and the communities they impact. To meet cost-sharing requirements, the non-federal contributions must be reasonable, allowable, allocable, and necessary under the grant program and must comply with all federal requirements and regulations. P&N professionals have decades of experience in navigating the complexities of federal funding and are closely monitoring Hurricane Ida relief developments at the federal, state, and local levels as recovery efforts get underway. We are committed to helping our clients understand and leverage the disaster relief options available. Please contact us or connect with your P&N advisor to discuss your organization’s questions, concerns, and unique situation.

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