Workers clear debris from a home damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Workers clear debris from a home damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Juan Lozano / AP file photo

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Watchdog: EPA ‘Effectively Managed’ Hurricane Harvey Relief Funds

Inspector general finds EPA handled $11 million in FEMA funds appropriately, corrected issues found in previous investigations.

The Environmental Protection Agency sufficiently handled its over $11 million in disaster relief funding following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, according to a new inspector general report. 

The EPA inspector general reported on Wednesday it “did not identify any significant issues in the EPA’s contracting, logistics or resource acquisition processes” following the Category 4 hurricane that hit primarily Texas and Louisiana in August 2017. “EPA effectively managed its Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Funding,” which it received through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the report stated. 

“EPA had corrected issues found in prior reports, had policies and procedures in place for emergency acquisition flexibilities to effectively manage Disaster Relief Funding received from FEMA, and adequately documented the support needed for the EPA’s Hurricane Harvey acquisitions,” the inspector general found. Additionally, EPA didn’t repeat problems related to “price reasonableness determinations and longer-than-necessary contract performance periods” identified in previous reports.

Under the Stafford Act, FEMA is authorized to coordinate a governmentwide disaster recovery effort. Following Hurricane Harvey, FEMA tasked the EPA with the detection and clean up of hazardous wastes and materials. EPA’s response to Harvey lasted 35 days, which included 251 EPA staff members who completed 281 deployments (for a total of 3,585 staff days), according to the report.

The inspector general conducted this audit from September 2018 to June 2019; the watchdog interviewed EPA staff and reviewed relevant laws, regulations and procedures, among other things. As a result of the positive findings, the inspector general did not make any recommendations.