WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation authored by U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rick Scott (R-FL) that requires federal agencies to take disaster resilience into account when investing in and managing federal property and assets has advanced in the Senate. The legislation builds off of a 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that over the past five years, the government spent billions of dollars to repair federal property damage resulting from natural disasters. As extreme weather events become more frequent, the bill will help ensure that federal property – such as hospitals, research centers, offices, and roads and bridges – can withstand worsening natural disasters and help save taxpayer dollars. The bill was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where Peters serves as Chair.
“Ensuring that federal agencies are thinking ahead about the impacts of natural disasters when it comes to investing and maintaining property will save taxpayer dollars and make federal infrastructure more resilient to natural disasters,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will ensure that our nation’s largest property owner – the federal government – is working to prevent financial and physical damage from natural disasters.”
“Florida is resilient because we prepare. We invested in pre-disaster mitigation and saw big returns for Florida families and our communities after each storm. Preparedness saves lives and dollars. I want to thank my colleagues on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for coming together to pass this bipartisan and commonsense approach to disaster resiliency,” said Senator Scott. “The Disaster Resiliency Planning Act will ensure core federal assets and federal property, like hospitals and critical infrastructure, are safer when disaster strike so families across the U.S. can stay safe. I look forward to this important bill’s full passage when it is brought to the Senate floor.”
“The business community has long supported building smart, modern, resilient infrastructure. We commend Chairman Peters and Sen. Scott for their leadership in ensuring that federal agencies must consider resilience and effectively manage assets, just like the private sector,” said Marty Durbin, Senior Vice President for Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “The bipartisan Disaster Resiliency & Planning Act is commonsense, good public policy.”
In September 2021, the GAO released a report evaluating how federal agencies are working to prevent or reduce damage to their property and assets caused by natural disasters. The report found that while some agencies have begun steps to incorporate disaster resilience, many still have not taken sufficient action to mitigate the effects of extreme weather. Studies have shown that resilience and mitigation spending saves taxpayers an average of $6 for every $1 invested. The senators’ legislation would not only save taxpayer dollars, but ensure federal property and infrastructure is able to withstand natural disasters as they continue to grow more frequent and worsen.
The Disaster Resiliency Planning Act, which builds off of a recommendation from the GAO report, would require the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide federal agencies with guidance on how to incorporate natural disaster resilience into their asset management and investment decisions. OMB would work in consultation with GAO and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish guidance, which will help federal agencies identify potential gaps in their disaster resilience prevention efforts. The legislation would also require the OMB Director to submit a report to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs detailing the guidance within a year. Finally, the legislation would require the OMB Director to brief the Committee on the implementation of guidance across agencies within two years.