Stafford Act Reform: Sharper Tools for a Smarter Recovery

Date: May 12, 2010
Time: 2:30pm
Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building SD-342

The purpose of this hearing is to evaluate the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act and proposals for its reform. The Stafford Act authorizes various forms of federal assistance to state and local governments, certain nonprofit organizations, and individuals and households in the event of a Presidentially-declared emergency or disaster. Since its enactment in 1988, it has been significantly revised by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. While these amending statutes respectively strengthened FEMA’s capacity to support hazard mitigation and emergency response, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have revealed inadequacies in the Act’s ability to support comprehensive disaster recovery. This Subcommittee has compiled numerous legislative recommendations from hearing witnesses during the last three years. The FEMA National Advisory Council has recommended policy and regulatory changes linked to the Act, and FEMA Administrator Fugate has launched a comprehensive review of internal policies that accompany the Act. Some of the pilot programs authorized by PKEMRA have expired, and the DHS Inspector General has issued relevant reports on a number of Stafford Act programs. The Subcommittee is actively considering legislative proposals to amend the Act from these and other organizations, including the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Commission on Children and Disasters, the Association of State Floodplain Managers, and numerous university research teams. This hearing will provide an opportunity to review the vast array of recommendations for reform and help determine whether the Act, and its accompanying regulations, policies, and procedures, can be improved to better support response, recovery, and mitigation.

Member Statements


Mary L.


(D -


Panel 1

The Honorable

W. Craig


Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Panel 1



Assistant Inspector General, Emergency Management Oversight

Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Panel 2

The Honorable

Joseph P.

Riley, Jr.

Mayor of Charleston, SC, Member, Stafford Act Reform Task Force

U.S. Conference of Mayors

Panel 2




National Emergency Management Association

Panel 2




President and Chief Executive Officer

National Low Income Housing Coalition