WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, reintroduced bipartisan legislation to improve the debris removal disaster contracting process for federal, local, tribal and state governments following natural disasters and will also help mitigate waste, fraud, and abuse. The bill will help protect victims of natural disasters by ensuring post-disaster debris removal services are delivered quickly and taxpayer dollars are spent on helping impacted communities recover. Peters introduced similar legislation that advanced in the Senate last Congress.
“Ensuring there is clear guidance on the removal of debris will help communities recover faster from extreme weather events,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will increase coordination between FEMA and partners who are helping with disaster recovery so cleanup efforts are more cost-effective and efficient.”
The Disaster Contract Improvement Act establishes oversight on debris removal through the creation of an advisory working group comprised of representatives from FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, state and local governments, the USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service, as well as subject matter experts, including those in the debris services contractor industry. The legislation requires the FEMA Administrator, no later than one year after the bill’s enactment and in consultation with the advisory working group, to develop and implement guidance and procedures with respect to the oversight and costs associated with debris removal contracts entered into under the public assistance grant program. Additionally, the bill requires the FEMA Administrator to conduct training and outreach to state, tribal and local governments on any new guidance developed under this program. Finally, the legislation requires the GAO to conduct further study on the debris removal advance contracting process to improve oversight and prevent fraud, waste and abuse across the entire system.
Peters has led numerous efforts to improve our nation’s federal disaster response and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and efficiently. Peters’ bipartisan bill to save taxpayer dollars by ensuring federal property assets are disaster resilient was signed into law. Peters secured $500 million in the bipartisan infrastructure law to provide the first funding for a program he created that helps protect communities from rising water levels and coastal erosion.