Legal Alerts Apr 01, 2020

Preparing for COVID-19 Pandemic FEMA Public Assistance Reimbursement

Public Agencies Should Take Steps Now to be Eligible for Cost Recovery

Preparing for COVID-19 Pandemic FEMA Public Assistance Reimbursement

If your agency may provide, has provided or is currently providing extraordinary emergency protective measures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain steps must be taken to receive financial assistance from the federal government. President Trump declared a major disaster for California for the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22. The major disaster declaration allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency to “assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments and other eligible entities with the health and safety actions they take on behalf of the American public.” To be eligible to recover costs, there are certain steps that local government agencies will need to take now.

FEMA has directed that eligible emergency proactive measures taken to respond to COVID-19 may be reimbursed under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program. According to FEMA, some examples of reimbursable costs are:

  • Disinfection of eligible public facilities
  • Medical sheltering
  • Security and law enforcement
  • Personnel overtime costs
  • Training specific to the declared event
  • Technical assistance to local governments on emergency management and control of immediate threats to public health and safety
  • Purchase and distribution of food, water, ice, medicine and other consumable supplies, to include personal protective equipment and hazardous material suits
  • Movement of supplies and people
  • Communications of general health and safety information to the public

For a complete list of Category B reimbursable costs, FEMA has issued the following fact sheet: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Eligible Emergency Protective Measures.

To be eligible for FEMA Public Assistance, there are three primary forms that local agencies will need to submit. These forms are available from Cal OES here.

1. File the Request for Public Assistance FormDue by April 17
If an agency will be incurring FEMA-reimbursable costs, the first step of the FEMA Public Assistance process is to fill out a Request for Public Assistance. The RPA is a simple form that asks for basic information - agency name, address and contact information. Cal OES requested that local government agencies submit the RPA by April 17. Agencies can submit the RPA by going to the FEMA Grants Portal or by submitting FEMA Form 009-0-49 directly to Cal OES. The portal simplifies document submission and allows users to monitor required activities. If your agency does not have an existing account, click on the “Register Your Organization and Request Public Assistance” link, and the program will walk you through the registration steps. For additional information on how to fill out an RPA, watch the YouTube video Grants Portal – Direct Applicant Account Creation.

2. Adopt a Resolution Designating an Agent (Cal OES Form 130) – Due Prior to Disbursement of Funds
Each local government agency will have to submit a “Designation of Applicant's Agent Resolution for Non-State Agencies” (Cal OES Form 130.) This form is a resolution that a city council or other local board adopts to designate the officials who will act on the agency’s behalf in submitting for reimbursements. The resolution is a standard form that Cal OES provides. The Form remains in place for 3 years; agencies that have an up-to-date form on file with Cal OES will not need to file the form again. All other agencies should plan to have their council or board adopt the resolution if they will be seeking reimbursement.

In addition to the Form 130, government agencies will also have to submit the Cal OES Form 89. This Form, titled “Project Assurances for Federal Assistance,” documents that the agency will comply with certain federal and state requirements for receiving disbursements.
3. Implement FEMA-Compliant Policies and Best Practices
In addition to filing required forms, local government agencies can implement best practices to maximize their potential ability to receive reimbursements. FEMA generally requires compliance with FEMA procurement procedures, and may review purchasing documents for certain federal contract terms. Implementing compliant policies and utilizing specialized FEMA contract documents can assist in the ability to recover costs. Local government agencies that intend to submit for reimbursement of COVID-19 costs should also separately track potentially eligible expenditures and include clear descriptions to tie the charges to the FEMA-eligible costs, to the greatest extent possible. Taking measures to prepare now could help recover funds down the road.

For more information or any questions regarding FEMA relief, please contact the authors of this Legal Alert listed at the right in the firm’s Municipal Law practice group or your BB&K attorney.

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Disclaimer: BB&K Legal Alerts are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an attorney before acting or relying upon any information in this communiqué.

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