Johnson, Lankford, Ayotte Bill Reining in Administrative Costs for Major Disasters Becomes Law

WASHINGTON — On Monday night, the president signed into law S. 2109, the Directing Dollars to Disaster Relief Act of 2015, sponsored by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to work to control and reduce its internal administrative costs for major disasters.  Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) are cosponsors of the bill.

The Government Accountability Office has raised concerns for years about FEMA’s rising administrative costs, noting that between fiscal years 1989 and 2011, the percentage of disaster assistance that was spent on administrative costs doubled, increasing from 9 percent to 18 percent. 

Sen. Johnson said, “One of my top priorities is to ensure taxpayer money is being used in the most efficient and effective way possible.  The steady rise in administrative costs for disaster relief means that more and more money each year is diverted away from helping struggling communities get back on their feet after a major disaster.  The Directing Dollars to Disaster Relief Act challenges FEMA to address this issue so that more money can be spent on disaster relief.”

“In the wake of destruction, FEMA is in place to assist Americans rebuild their lives after a major natural disaster. Unfortunately, too much of the agency’s resources are being skimmed off for administrative costs instead of supporting families in need. GAO reported that the Agency’s administrative costs have increased at an alarming rate since 1981. It is time to force FEMA to address their overspending, require them to create a plan to immediately reduce administrative costs, track where the money is being cut and find effective ways to manage the agency while still serving families in their greatest time of need,” said Sen. Lankford.

“I’m grateful to my colleagues for working with us to pass this important good-governance bill,” said Sen.  Ayotte. “With our national debt exceeding $19 trillion, it just makes sense that taxpayer dollars should focus on helping disaster victims, not covering unnecessary agency overhead. This legislation will help control and reduce the growth of FEMA’s administrative costs and ensure that our federal agencies are managing our money wisely.”