WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Rick Scott (R-FL), introduced bipartisan legislation that requires federal agencies to take disaster resilience into account when investing in and managing federal property and assets. 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.
“Natural disasters, such as extreme flooding and wildfires, are only worsening due to climate change. As the largest property owner in the nation, the federal government must take action to mitigate the physical and financial damage caused by extreme weather events,” said Senator Peters. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will make sure federal agencies are planning for the impacts of natural disasters when maintaining, updating, and purchasing property to ensure they are using taxpayer dollars as responsibly as possible.”
“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 dollars and lives,” said Senator Scott. “It’s time to bring this commonsense approach to the federal government and with our bipartisan Disaster Resiliency Planning Act, we can make sure core federal assets and federal property, like hospitals and critical infrastructure, are safer when disaster strikes.”
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. The 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.