Homeland Security seeks to expedite Gulf Coast recovery through arbitration

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are working out procedural guidance for an independent arbitration process that would resolve outstanding disputes over public assistance for projects undertaken as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate announced the new arbitration process last week in Washington. It will offer individuals and organizations in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas an alternative path toward resolving disagreements with FEMA over funding for recovery operations in excess of $500,000.

Applicants for public assistance who have been denied funding by FEMA or feel a project award is too small can continue to use FEMA's internal appeals process, or they can seek resolution through the new arbitration program.

FEMA expects to publish detailed rules governing the process and guidance for requesting arbitration in the Federal Register by the end of August.

Arbitration "will give us one more tool in our tool box for expediting Gulf Coast recovery efforts," Napolitano said.

Under the program, the government will create arbitration panels, each consisting of three judges from the General Services Administration's Civilian Board of Contract Appeals. As such, the judges will have considerable expertise in construction and contracting matters, and they also will have access to subject matter experts in engineering, architecture and other fields.

The arbitration panels' decisions will be final and binding.

Napolitano said arbitration would be quicker than the FEMA appeals process: "Indeed, we think most of these appeals [sent to arbitration panels] could be resolved in four to five months once they begin."

The alternative dispute-resolution process addresses a major concern of aid applicants, which is that the FEMA appeals process essentially asks agency officials to pass judgment on decisions made by colleagues.

"This arbitration option is essential because it will offer quick and fair rulings by a panel with experience in construction disputes on long-standing issues between the state and FEMA," said Paul Rainwater, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., endorsed the new process: "After years of waiting, literally thousands of projects will now have the means to move forward." Landrieu and Rainwater participated in the briefing with Napolitano and Fugate last week.

The arbitration process was authorized in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.