This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-10-800 
entitled 'Hurricane Recovery: Federal Government Provided a Range of 
Assistance to Nonprofits following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita' which 
was released on August 30, 2010. 

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Report to Congressional Requesters: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

July 2010: 

Hurricane Recovery: 

Federal Government Provided a Range of Assistance to Nonprofits 
following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: 


GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-10-800, a report to congressional requesters. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Residents of the Gulf Coast continue to struggle to recover almost 5 
years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the area in August 
and September of 2005. In many cases the federal government 
coordinates with, and provides support to, nonprofit organizations in 
order to deliver recovery assistance to impacted residents. A better 
understanding of how the federal government works with nonprofit 
organizations to provide such assistance may be helpful for recovery 
efforts on the Gulf Coast as well as for communities affected by major 
disasters in the future. 

GAO was asked to describe (1) how the federal government has worked 
with nonprofit organizations to facilitate Gulf Coast recovery 
following the 2005 hurricanes and (2) steps the federal government has 
taken to address challenges to strengthen relationships with 
nonprofits in the future. Toward this end, GAO reviewed the applicable 
disaster recovery literature and relevant supporting documents. GAO 
also interviewed officials from federal, state, and local governments 
as well as a wide range of nonprofit officials involved in Gulf Coast 

What GAO Found: 

The federal government used a variety of direct and indirect funding 
programs to support the delivery of human recovery services by 
nonprofit organizations following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in areas 
such as housing, long-term case management, and health care. These 
programs included well-established grants such as the Department of 
Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Temporary Assistance for Needy 
Families and its Social Services Block Grant, as well as the 
Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community 
Development Block Grant. Programs established in the wake of the 2005 
hurricanes also provided funding to nonprofits offering recovery 
services. These included HHS’s Primary Care Access and Stabilization 
Grant and HUD’s Disaster Housing Assistance Program. 

The federal government also supported nonprofit organizations through 
coordination and capacity building. For example, the Federal Emergency 
Management Agency (FEMA) used Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VAL) to help 
establish and maintain working relationships between nonprofits and 
FEMA as well as other federal, state, and local agencies. The Office 
of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding in the Department 
of Homeland Security provided a variety of assistance to nonprofits 
including problem identification, information sharing, and networking. 
Other federal agencies also worked to bolster the capacity of 
nonprofits by providing temporary staff, training, and technical 
assistance to nonprofit organizations. 

The federal government is taking steps to address several challenges 
and strengthen its relationship with nonprofit organizations providing 
recovery assistance. For example, nonprofit officials GAO spoke with 
cited challenges with the federal disaster grant process including 
what they viewed to be complicated record keeping and documentation 
procedures as well as other requirements to obtain aid. A report 
issued earlier this year by the President’s Advisory Council for Faith-
Based and Neighborhood Partnerships recognized the need to ease the 
administrative burden on nonprofits and contains specific 
recommendations for action. In an effort to make it easier for 
nonprofits with limited financial resources to obtain the services of 
AmeriCorps workers, the Corporation for National and Community Service 
waived the usual matching requirements in the wake of the 2005 

In addition, FEMA is taking steps to address challenges regarding the 
training of its VAL staff. Following an earlier GAO recommendation 
that VALs could benefit from additional training regarding federal 
recovery resources, FEMA issued a VAL handbook and is developing 
several VAL training courses that it expects to implement by the end 
of 2010. Finally, although there has been a lack of specific guidance 
regarding the role of nonprofits in disaster recovery, the federal 
government has taken steps to address this gap. FEMA and HUD have led 
a multi-agency effort that resulted in the development of a draft 
National Disaster Recovery Framework. Among other things, this 
framework contains specific information about the roles and 
responsibilities of nonprofits in disaster recovery. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO is not making new recommendations in this report but discusses the 
implementation status of a relevant prior recommendation. 

View [hyperlink,] or key 
components. For more information, contact Stanley J. Czerwinski at 
(202) 512-6806 or 

[End of section] 




The Federal Government Supported Nonprofits' Delivery of Human 
Recovery Services through a Variety of Funding Programs: 

The Federal Government Supported Nonprofits through Coordination and 
Capacity Building to Facilitate Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery: 

The Federal Government Is Taking Steps to Address Challenges and 
Strengthen Relationships with Nonprofits: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments: 


Table 1: Examples of Nongovernmental Partners Involved in Gulf Coast 

Table 2: Selected Federal Funding Programs Providing Support to 
Victims of Gulf Coast Hurricanes: 


CDBG: Community Development Block Grant: 

CNCS: Corporation for National and Community Service: 

DHS: Department of Homeland Security: 

FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Association: 

HHS: Department of Health and Human Services: 

HUD: Department of Housing and Urban Development: 

KAT: Katrina Aid Today: 

LANO: Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations: 

LFRC: Louisiana Family Recovery Corps: 

MCVS: Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service: 

NDRF: National Disaster Recovery Framework: 

NNRF: National Nonprofit Relief Framework: 

NRF: National Response Framework: 

OFC: Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding: 

SBA: Small Business Administration: 

TANF: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families: 

UMCOR: United Methodist Committee on Relief: 

VAL: Voluntary Agency Liaison: 

VOAD: Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office:
Washington, DC 20548: 

July 30, 2010: 

The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman: 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Mary L. Landrieu: 
Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery: 
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: 
United States Senate: 

Gulf Coast residents continue to struggle with recovery almost 5 years 
after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the area in August and 
September of 2005. These storms exacted a heavy toll on the lives of 
more than 1 million people in the states of Louisiana and Mississippi 
that for many continues to this day. The federal government continues 
to play a key role in helping these residents rebuild their lives and 
communities and, in many cases, it coordinates with nonprofit 
organizations for the delivery of recovery assistance.[Footnote 1] 
Toward this end, the federal government has partnered with a wide 
variety of nonprofits including national, faith-based, and community- 
based organizations on a broad range of programs and services 
including health care, crisis and mental counseling, education, 
housing, and case management. Understanding the benefits and 
challenges of the federal government's use of nonprofit organizations 
to provide such important human services may be helpful for recovery 
efforts on the Gulf Coast as well as for communities affected by major 
disasters in the future. A fuller understanding of how the federal 
government works with nonprofits in disaster recovery may also prove 
useful as efforts begin to ramp up to address the human and economic 
impacts of the recent massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 

In response to your request, this report describes (1) how the federal 
government has worked with nonprofit organizations to facilitate Gulf 
Coast recovery following the 2005 hurricanes; and (2) steps the 
federal government has taken to address challenges to strengthen 
relationships with nonprofits in the future. Given their role in 
disaster recovery, and as agreed with your office, we place a focus on 
the activities of two components of the Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS)--the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the 
Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding (OFC)--in 
describing how the federal government has worked with nonprofits on 
Gulf Coast recovery. This report is one in a series that we have 
issued in response to your broader request regarding Gulf Coast 
hurricane recovery issues including assisting households in 
transitioning to permanent residences, assisting disaster aid 
recipients through case management and crisis counseling, and working 
with state and local governments to support their efforts in helping 
disaster aid recipients recover.[Footnote 2] Since the time of the 
storms, we have documented challenges in the federal disaster 
preparedness and response system, particularly focusing on the 
immediate disaster and short-term recovery periods following the 
storms.[Footnote 3] This report focuses primarily on the extended long-
term recovery period following the storms. 

To meet our objectives, we reviewed the relevant literature on Gulf 
Coast recovery and the role of nonprofit organizations in recovery 
efforts including our prior work on disaster recovery and rebuilding. 
We also reviewed relevant laws, regulations, and program requirements 
for federal recovery-related programs that rely on nonprofit 
organizations to deliver services. We conducted interviews in 
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C. with federal, state, 
local, and nonprofit officials from 48 agencies and organizations that 
represented a range of organizations, services, and service delivery 
approaches. We did this to understand how the federal government has 
worked with nonprofit organizations to facilitate Gulf Coast recovery 
following the 2005 hurricanes and the steps the federal government has 
taken to address challenges that were encountered. For additional 
details on our scope and methodology, please see appendix I. 

We conducted this review from February 2008 to July 2010 in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards 
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, 
appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings 
and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the 
evidence obtained in this report provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 


The nonprofit sector is diverse and has a significant presence in the 
U.S. economy. Of the estimated 1.7 million tax-exempt organizations in 
fiscal year 2008, about 69 percent were religious, charitable, and 
similar organizations, or private foundations and were referred to as 
501(c)(3) organizations, and about 8 percent were social welfare 
organizations.[Footnote 4] Nonprofit organizations provide services in 
a wide variety of policy areas such as health care, education, and 
human services. As we have previously reported, the federal government 
is increasingly partnering with nonprofit organizations because 
nonprofit organizations can offer advantages in delivering services 
compared to government agencies--they are more flexible, they can act 
more quickly, and they often have pre-existing relationships with 
local officials and communities.[Footnote 5] 

Nonprofit organizations have provided a wide range of direct long-term 
assistance and recovery services to those affected by the Gulf Coast 
hurricanes including job training, counseling, and housing. Nonprofit 
organizations have contributed significant support--financial and non- 
financial--to post-Katrina and Rita recovery efforts. At the end of 
2009, FEMA officials in Louisiana reported that more than $24 million 
in donated dollars, volunteer hours, and goods had been leveraged 
through long-term recovery groups to provide permanent housing and 
address other unmet needs.[Footnote 6] 

In addition, some nonprofit organizations provided technical and 
support services to those nonprofit organizations that rendered direct 
recovery services to Gulf Coast residents. For example, as of 2007, 
the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps (LFRC) had provided more than $20 
million in programs, initiatives, and activities in the Greater New 
Orleans area since the storms. In its 2005-2008 retrospective, the 
Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation reported awarding grants 
totaling nearly $29 million to nonprofit organizations involved in 
Louisiana's recovery process. Organizations such as the Mississippi 
Center for Nonprofits had a well-established communications 
infrastructure with hundreds of nonprofits within the state of 
Mississippi before the 2005 storms and used this network following the 
hurricanes to disseminate grant and technical information, provide 
vital resource referrals, and communicate available training workshops 
for nonprofit service providers. The Louisiana Association of 
Nonprofit Organizations (LANO) was similarly positioned in the state 
of Louisiana. According to its officials, LANO serves more than 1,000 
nonprofit organizations throughout the state of Louisiana. One of 
LANO's field offices is located in New Orleans in a building that it 
shares with approximately 30 other nonprofit organizations, many of 
whom are providing recovery assistance to residents of the surrounding 
neighborhoods which are among the poorest in the Metropolitan New 
Orleans area. Table 1 below provides examples of some of the 
nongovernmental partners that helped to build the capacity of direct 
service providers involved in the Gulf Coast recovery by providing 
human resources, guidance, training, funding, and technical assistance. 

Table 1: Examples of Nongovernmental Partners Involved in Gulf Coast 

Nongovernmental Partner: National Voluntary Organizations Active in 
Disaster (National VOAD); 
Mission: Coalition of national nonprofit organizations that share 
knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle to help disaster 
survivors and their communities. Members include the American Red 
Cross and the Salvation Army. 

Nongovernmental Partner: State VOADs in Louisiana and Mississippi; 
Mission: Consortium of voluntary organizations active in disasters 
within the states of Louisiana and Mississippi whose mission is to 
foster, through cooperation in mitigation and response, more effective 
service to people affected by disaster. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Local/Community VOADs in Louisiana and 
Mission: Consortium of voluntary organizations active in disasters at 
the local and community levels. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Long-Term Recovery Committees/Organizations 
in Louisiana and Mississippi; 
Mission: Groups of community leaders, including nonprofit, interfaith, 
local government, and private sector leaders, whose mission is to 
identify needs that have not been addressed through insurance or 
governmental aid and then match up voluntary agency sources and/or 
local sources for goods and services to meet those needs. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery 
Mission: Coalition of 70 plus member agencies including faith-based, 
nonprofits, government liaisons, and Long-Term Recovery Organizations 
serving those impacted in the Greater New Orleans region and 
supporting the region's Long-Term Recovery Committees. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service 
Mission: Oversees Mississippi's national service network, helping 
local organizations meet local needs and promotes community service 
and volunteerism to help meet local needs more effectively. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Louisiana Family Recovery Corps (LFRC); 
Mission: Facilitates human recovery for Louisiana by partnering with 
human service and nonprofits throughout the state and country to 
deliver assistance as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Mississippi Interfaith Disaster Task Force; 
Mission: Umbrella organization for faith-based entities in Mississippi 
that facilitates communication, coordination, and collaboration among 
organizations involved in disaster preparedness and recovery, and 
advocates for vulnerable populations. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Mississippi Center for Nonprofits; 
Mission: Mississippi's nonprofit management resource service whose 
mission is to strengthen the capacity of the nonprofit sector. The 
Mississippi Center for Nonprofits is the primary source of management 
training, technical information, advice, answers, coaching, and 
connection to the nonprofit sector. 

Nongovernmental Partner: Louisiana Association of Nonprofit 
Organizations (LANO); 
Mission: Statewide network of nonprofits, foundations, corporations, 
and individuals dedicated to supporting Louisiana's nonprofit sector. 
LANO's mission is to strengthen, promote, and build the capacity of 
nonprofits through education, advocacy, and member services. 

Source: GAO analysis. 

[End of table] 

One of the primary mechanisms the federal government uses to provide 
support to nonprofit organizations is federal grants. Federal grants 
are forms of financial assistance from the government to a recipient 
for a particular public purpose that is authorized by law. Federal 
grant funds flow to the nonprofit sector in various ways. For example, 
some grant funds are awarded directly to nonprofits, while others are 
first awarded to states, local governments, or other entities and then 
awarded to nonprofit service providers. Federal grant funding may also 
be awarded to nonprofit subgrantees through contracts. Federal laws, 
policies, regulations and guidance associated with federal grants 
apply regardless of how federal grant funding reaches the final 

The Federal Government Supported Nonprofits' Delivery of Human 
Recovery Services through a Variety of Funding Programs: 

Nonprofit organizations in Louisiana and Mississippi provided numerous 
human recovery services to Gulf Coast residents following Hurricanes 
Katrina and Rita, and several of those services, including housing, 
case management, and mental health services were supported either 
directly by the federal government or indirectly through other 
organizations receiving federal support. The federal government relied 
on both pre-existing as well as newly developed funding programs when 
supporting nonprofit organizations. For example the federal government 
used well-established grants such as the Temporary Assistance for 
Needy Families, Community Development Block Grant, and the Social 
Services Block Grant to provide financial and human recovery 
assistance to Louisiana and Mississippi residents. Nonprofit as well 
as Louisiana and Mississippi state officials also identified 
additional federal funding programs that were in place before the 
storms that were used to assist in human recovery services such as the 
Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) workforce housing 
grants, Entitlement Cities, and the Low-income Home Energy Assistance 
Program; FEMA's Community Disaster Loans; and the Low Income Housing 
Tax Credit program. 

There were also several newly created grants with emergency 
supplemental funds designed to provide human recovery assistance to 
hurricane-affected areas. Some of these grants include the Department 
of Health and Human Services's (HHS) Primary Care Access and 
Stabilization Grant and HUD's Disaster Housing Assistance Program. See 
table 2 for descriptions of selected federal funding programs that 
provided assistance to victims of the Gulf Coast hurricanes. 

Table 2: Selected Federal Funding Programs Providing Support to 
Victims of Gulf Coast Hurricanes: 

Federal funding program: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families 
Description: HHS's TANF program provides assistance and work 
opportunities to needy families by granting states, territories, and 
tribes the federal funds and wide flexibility to develop and implement 
their own welfare programs. 

Federal funding program: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG); 
Description: HUD's CDBG is a flexible program that provides 
communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community 
development needs. Its Disaster Recovery Assistance program provides 
flexible grants to help cities, counties, and states recover from 
presidentially declared disasters, especially in low-income areas, 
subject to availability of supplemental appropriations. 

Federal funding program: Social Services Block Grant; 
Description: Social Services Block Grant funds are distributed by HHS 
to enable states to provide social services best suited to meet the 
needs of its residents. Such services may include, but are not limited 
to: daycare and protective services for children or adults, special 
services to persons with disabilities, adoption, case management, 
health-related services, transportation, foster care for children or 
adults, substance abuse, housing, home-delivered meals, 
independent/transitional living, employment services or any other 
social services found necessary by the state. 

Federal funding program: CDBG workforce housing grant; 
Description: This HUD grant targets housing that is affordable to 
those between 60 percent and 120 percent of the area median income. 
Many households in this group do not qualify for federal programs yet 
do not have enough income for adequate housing. 

Federal funding program: CDBG Entitlement Communities; 
Description: CDBG entitlement program through which HUD allocates 
annual grants to larger cities and metropolitan cities and urban 
counties to develop viable communities. 

Federal funding program: Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program; 
Description: The Low-income Home Energy Assistance Program is a 
federally funded block grant program administered by HHS and 
implemented at the state level. The grant serves individuals and 
families from low-income households who seek assistance for their home 
energy bills. 

Federal funding program: Community Disaster Loans; 
Description: FEMA offers these loans to any eligible jurisdiction in a 
designated disaster area that has suffered a substantial loss of tax 
and other revenue. The jurisdiction must demonstrate a need for 
financial assistance to perform its governmental functions to maintain 
essential services such as public schools, and fire and police 

Federal funding program: Gulf Opportunity Zone Low-Income Housing Tax 
Credit Program; 
Description: The Gulf Opportunity Zone Low-Income Housing Tax Credit 
program was designed to provide tax incentives to encourage the 
development of affordable rental housing between 2006 and 2008 in the 
areas affected by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes. 

Federal funding program: Primary Care Access and Stabilization 
Description: HHS awarded the Primary Care Access and Stabilization 
Grant to Louisiana to help restore primary health care services to low-
income populations. 

Federal funding program: Disaster Housing Assistance Program[A]; 
Description: This HUD program provides temporary long-term housing 
rental assistance and case management for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 

Federal funding program: Community Mental Health Services Block Grant; 
Description: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services 
Administration's Community Mental Health Services Block Grant is 
awarded to states to provide mental health services to people with 
mental disorders. The Mental Health Services Block Grant supports 
existing public services and encourages the development of creative 
and cost-effective systems of community-based care for people with 
serious mental disorders. 

Federal funding program: Continuum of Care Program; 
Description: HUD's Continuum of Care Program is a set of three 
competitively-awarded programs (Supportive Housing Program, Single 
Room Occupancy Program, and the Shelter Plus Care Program) created to 
address the problems of homelessness in a comprehensive manner with 
other federal agencies. 

Federal funding program: Disaster Case Management Pilot Program; 
Description: FEMA used funds from its Disaster Relief Fund, the major 
source of federal disaster recovery assistance for state and local 
governments when a disaster occurs, for the state-managed Disaster 
Case Management Pilot Program. Through this pilot, case management 
services were intended for households in Louisiana and Mississippi 
affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita with the primary goal of 
helping them achieve sustainable permanent housing. 

Federal funding program: Katrina Aid Today (KAT)[B]; 
Description: FEMA awarded a 2-year case management grant that 
channeled $66 million of foreign donations to the United Methodist 
Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR used the grant to establish KAT, a 
national consortium of nine social service and voluntary organizations 
to provide case management services to victims of Hurricane Katrina. 

Source: GAO analysis. 

[A] New grants created following the Gulf Coast Hurricanes. 

[B] KAT grant-funded activity expired in March 2008. 

[End of table] 

Louisiana and Mississippi differed in how funds from these programs 
were distributed. Louisiana created organizations like the nonprofit 
LFRC and the state-level Louisiana Recovery Authority to serve as 
custodians and distributors of some of its federal funding, while 
Mississippi took advantage of provisions in the National Community 
Service Trust Act to establish a state-level commission to oversee the 
state's community service block grants. 

Using federal funding programs such as those shown in table 2, 
nonprofit organizations have provided a wide range of recovery 
services to residents affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita 
including housing, long-term case management, and a variety of 
counseling services (including crisis management and substance abuse). 
According to nonprofit officials in both Louisiana and Mississippi, as 
of early 2010, Gulf Coast residents continue to need services in these 
areas. CDBG funds are being used by Providence Community Housing, a 
collaborative effort of Catholic housing and social service 
organizations in the New Orleans community, to build, rebuild, or 
repair 7,000 units of affordable houses and apartments over a 5-year 
period that began in 2006. Some nonprofit officials also told us that 
long-term case management services were still widely needed. For 
example, according to officials with the Lutheran Episcopal Services 
in Mississippi, as of the summer of 2008, this nonprofit had provided 
case management services for several years to Katrina-affected 
residents in the Mississippi Gulf Coast region through the efforts of 
approximately 60 case managers who worked with clients throughout 

Some nonprofits in our review were instrumental in helping other 
nonprofits access available federal funds in order to deliver much 
needed services. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), for 
example, also served as the umbrella grants manager for Katrina Aid 
Today (KAT), a national consortium of nine subgrantees.[Footnote 7] 
The consortium was required to provide matching funds and was able to 
put up $30 million of in-kind funds, while FEMA channeled foreign 
donations of $66 million over a 2-year period.[Footnote 8] At the 
completion of its grant-funded activity in March 2008, KAT had enabled 
case management services for approximately 73,000 households. As the 
umbrella grants manager, UMCOR provided financial compliance 
monitoring, technical assistance and training to the nine consortium 
members. Nonprofits such as Louisiana's Odyssey House and Mercy Family 
Center also provided crisis, mental health, and substance abuse 
counseling made possible as the result of federal funds.[Footnote 9] 
In addition, according to officials from the Catholic Charities 
Archdiocese of New Orleans, their organization contracted with the 
Louisiana State Office of Mental Health and the resulting Louisiana 
Spirit hurricane recovery project, funded by FEMA, helped provide 
intervention and mental health services to its clients. 

The Federal Government Supported Nonprofits through Coordination and 
Capacity Building to Facilitate Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery: 

Nonprofits Reported Usefulness of Coordination with FEMA Voluntary 
Agency Liaisons: 

The National Response Framework (NRF) designates the FEMA Voluntary 
Agency Liaison (VAL) as the primary liaison to the nonprofit 
community. VALs are responsible for initiating and maintaining a 
working relationship between FEMA, federal, state, and local agencies 
and nonprofit organizations. VALs also advise state emergency agencies 
on the roles and responsibilities of nonprofit organizations active in 
the recovery.[Footnote 10] The FEMA VAL system is staffed by a 
combination of permanent federal employees as well as temporary and 
term-specified employees whose work focuses on a specific disaster. 
Among the permanent FEMA employees are 10 regional VALs--one for each 
FEMA regional office--along with an additional 2 VALs in the Caribbean 
Area and Pacific Area offices.[Footnote 11] FEMA also has five VAL 
staff based at headquarters whose role is to provide the overall VAL 
program and policy development, the national perspective, training and 
development to states and regions, support services in the field, 
coordination with other DHS and FEMA entities with nonprofits as 
stakeholders, and oversight of the FEMA Donations and Volunteer 
Management Program including the National Donations Management 
Network. FEMA also deploys Disaster Assistance Employees, reservists 
who can be called up to carry out the VAL role in local communities 
following a specific disaster and, depending on the size of the 
disaster, typically serve for a period of approximately 50-60 days 
with a maximum of 50 consecutive weeks in a calendar year.[Footnote 
12] As of March 31, 2010, FEMA had 90 disaster assistance employees in 
its reserve VAL cadre. In addition, after the Gulf Coast hurricanes, 
FEMA hired 40 "Katrina VALs," of which 10 are remaining in Louisiana 
as of May 24, 2010.[Footnote 13] These are term-limited federal 
employees hired locally who are designated to specifically address 
Katrina-related issues and 10 remain based on FEMA's need for their 
continued work.[Footnote 14] FEMA is not planning to retain these 
individuals after Katrina-related work is finished. 

FEMA's VAL program received general approval from state, local, and 
nonprofit officials we spoke with. Several nonprofit officials told us 
that VALs were instrumental in helping initially set up and guide the 
operation of long-term recovery committees. Officials from state 
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) in Louisiana and 
Mississippi spoke highly of the respective regional VALs and said they 
were involved with the VOADs on a regular basis helping coordination 
between the VOADs and nonprofits. And officials from various nonprofit 
organizations cited how useful they found the VAL coordination. For 
example, VALs helped extend the federal government's reach to the 
nonprofit sector by also working with state-level intermediaries, such 
as the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps (LFRC) and the Mississippi 
Commission for Volunteer Service (MCVS), whose responsibilities 
included the coordination of nonprofit service providers active in the 
recovery effort. The LFRC was created in 2005 following the Gulf Coast 
hurricanes and was designated by the Louisiana legislature in 2007 as 
the state's coordinator for human resources. The MCVS is the state's 
office of volunteerism through statute and is an affiliate of the 
federal Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and was 
designated by the Governor of Mississippi to coordinate the general 
activities of the nonprofit sector and oversee the implementation of 
FEMA's Phase I and Phase II Disaster Case Management Pilot program 
specifically. Officials from the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and 
the Mississippi Interfaith Disaster Task Force said they had good 
working relationships with the FEMA VALs. Further, officials from 
state entities such as the Louisiana Recovery Authority characterized 
their partnership with FEMA VALs as successful and one of the best 
examples of local coordination they encountered. 

Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding Provided a 
Variety of Assistance to Nonprofits Including Problem Identification, 
Information Sharing, and Networking: 

In November 2005, the President issued an executive order establishing 
the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding (OFC) 
with the broad mission of supporting recovery efforts following 
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. OFC was created as a response to the 
unprecedented rebuilding challenges presented by these storms as well 
as concerns regarding the lack of coordination in the government's 
initial response to these events. Although the OFC was originally 
scheduled to expire in November 2008, the President extended it 
several times until the office closed on April 1, 2010.[Footnote 15] 
In previous work on OFC, we identified four key functions performed by 
the office, which provides a useful framework for understanding how 
the office provided support for nonprofits working on Gulf Coast 
recovery.[Footnote 16] Nonprofits were directly involved in three of 
these four OFC functions. 

First, OFC helped nonprofits to identify and address obstacles to 
recovery. These obstacles included both challenges facing specific 
organizations as well as broad problems facing entire communities of 
which nonprofits were a part. An example of the former occurred when 
OFC worked with MCVS and FEMA to address contracting challenges 
involving FEMA's Disaster Case Management Phase II pilot program. An 
example of the latter is OFC's sponsorship of a series of forums and 
workout sessions, which brought together a diverse group of 
stakeholders including numerous nonprofits, foundations, and faith- 
based organizations to discuss impediments to recovery and try to 
identify potential solutions. The topics of these sessions have 
included crime, education reform, and economic development. 

Second, OFC supported nonprofits by sharing and communicating a 
variety of recovery information. One example of this was the joint OFC-
FEMA effort known as the Transparency Initiative that began in 
February of 2008. This Web-based information sharing effort enabled 
interested stakeholders, including nonprofits, to track the status of 
selected public infrastructure rebuilding projects (such as a school 
or hospital) by providing detailed information on the Public 
Assistance Grants funds allocated for the project and the project's 
status. The initiative has received positive feedback from a range of 
nonprofits involved in Gulf Coast building including Catholic 
Charities and Tulane University. OFC also worked to provide updates 
and other information relating to Gulf Coast recovery though a 
nonprofit outreach strategy, which has changed and developed over 
time. During the first few years of the OFC's operation, although the 
office compiled a listing of many nonprofits involved in recovery and 
rebuilding activities, it focused its outreach efforts primarily on 
large, well-known, national nonprofit organizations, such as Catholic 
Charities, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist 
Committee on Relief. These organizations had the capacity to work with 
the government and, in many cases, already had pre-existing 
relationships with federal and state officials. 

OFC largely relied on these national organizations to relay 
information to the local level though their various local partners and 
affiliates. Given this approach, it is perhaps not surprising that 
many of the nonprofit officials we spoke with in both Louisiana and 
Mississippi told us that initially they did not have any direct 
interaction with OFC following the hurricanes. Since 2009, however, 
several nonprofit and local officials we spoke with in Louisiana and 
Mississippi said that OFC has conducted considerably more outreach and 
become much more involved with them and commended the OFC's current 
efforts. According to a senior OFC official, in 2009, the office 
changed its nonprofit outreach to place a heavier emphasis on direct 
contact with smaller organizations at the grassroots level. Toward 
that end, the Federal Coordinator frequently visited Louisiana and 
Mississippi to personally conduct outreach to a variety of smaller 
nonprofit organizations and subsequently built a database of 300 to 
400 nonprofit organizations. 

A third way OFC assisted nonprofits is through their facilitation of 
networks and dialogue among a wide range of recovery stakeholders from 
federal, state, and local governments, other nonprofits, and as well 
as the private sector. OFC brought a diverse group of stakeholders 
together to meet each other and discuss issues of common interest 
through numerous forums and roundtables. In contrast to the workout 
sessions mentioned above, the primary goal of these meetings was not 
to focus on a specific set of challenges, but rather to help foster 
and expand connections among members of the Gulf Coast recovery 
community and provide a forum for them to share information with each 
other. Similar to what took place with OFC's approach toward 
information sharing with nonprofits, the way the office fostered 
networking changed over the years. In its final year of operation, OFC 
moved away from solely relying on formal events like forums and 
roundtables to increasingly making use of less formal meetings and 
networking events. For example, the Federal Coordinator at the time 
said the office placed a high priority on informal and direct 
interactions with communities on the ground, with whom she and her 
staff spent more than half of their time. In addition, OFC facilitated 
connections between nonprofits that were in the process of applying 
for recovery grants and other organizations that have had prior 
success in obtaining such funds and were willing to share their 
knowledge and expertise. 

Finally, in its last year of its operation, the OFC facilitated 
meetings between the White House Office of Faith-Based and 
Neighborhood Partnership centers established within 12 federal 
agencies including DHS, HUD, and the Small Business Administration 
(SBA) with local community and faith-based organizations. 
Additionally, during its last year of operation, OFC worked to ensure 
that secretaries of federal agencies relevant to disaster recovery 
established a senior-level advisor to serve as a point person with OFC 
as well as the nonprofit organizations on the ground. Some of the 
federal agencies that established this position included DHS, HUD, 
SBA, HHS, and the United States Department of Agriculture. 

Other Agencies Also Bolstered the Capacity of Nonprofits by Providing 
Temporary Staff, Training, and Technical Assistance: 

Other federal agencies also provided important nonmonetary assistance 
to nonprofit organizations involved in Gulf Coast recovery. Federal 
agencies provided trained volunteers and volunteer management services 
to community-based nonprofits to help them meet increased demand for 
services. For example, CNCS reported that it provided more than $160 
million worth of resources, including more than 105,000 volunteers who 
contributed more than 5.4 million hours to Gulf Coast states 
recovering from the 2005 hurricanes. Some of the nonprofit officials 
we interviewed indicated that they had either hired an AmeriCorps 
worker or Vista volunteer, or were familiar with their work as a 
result of partnering with them on various recovery projects. 
Nonprofits such as Rebuilding New Orleans Together were able to take 
advantage of a waiver that enabled FEMA and CNCS to cover the cost of 
some volunteer stipends. 

Federal agencies also provided nonprofit organizations with training 
and technical assistance that helped them manage federal grant program 
requirements. For example, nonprofit officials attended a 2008 White 
House sponsored conference designed to highlight and strengthen the 
role of faith-based and community-based organizations in disaster 
relief and preparedness. The conference, held in New Orleans, 
Louisiana, offered workshops hosted by federal agencies including the 
Departments of Justice, Agriculture, Labor, HHS, HUD, Education, 
Homeland Security, Commerce, and Veteran's Affairs; the Agency for 
International Development; and SBA. These workshops provided technical 
assistance and training designed to help faith-based and community- 
based nonprofits understand the federal grant process as well as 
provide networking opportunities with the federal government. 

The Federal Government Is Taking Steps to Address Challenges and 
Strengthen Relationships with Nonprofits: 

Challenges Experienced by Nonprofits in Obtaining Federal Disaster 
Assistance Led to Efforts to Address Some Concerns: 

The rules and requirements that typically accompany federal grants 
along with the limitations of many nonprofits' financial and 
administrative capacity made it difficult for some organizations to 
access federal funding to deliver recovery services. Our previous work 
has shown that many nonprofits struggle to accomplish their mission 
because they lack the resources that would allow them to better manage 
their finances and strengthen their administrative or technology 
infrastructure.[Footnote 17] We have recently reported that federal 
grants typically do not provide support for these types of overhead 
costs, which include administrative or infrastructure costs.[Footnote 
18] In light of this gap, officials from several nonprofits told us 
that they believed the record keeping, documentation, and reporting 
requirements of federal grants were too complicated and cumbersome. 

Nonprofit organizations' perceptions of federal accountability 
requirements sometimes also served as an impediment to obtaining 
funding from the federal government because officials at these 
organizations perceived compliance with federal grant requirements to 
be too resource-intensive and not worth meeting the requirements that 
accompanied such funds. Officials at one nonprofit raised concerns 
about what they characterized as the "massive" documentation required 
by the state to justify reimbursements for costs incurred in 
implementing federal grant programs. According to these nonprofit 
officials, paperwork sometimes had to be submitted repeatedly and 
state officials, who were supposed to facilitate communication between 
federal agencies and nonprofit service providers, did not always know 
what documents were required. Further, these officials stated that the 
preparation of the required reimbursement documentation consumed 
approximately 30 hours of staff time each month and that did not 
include the time required to comply with other reporting requirements 
under the grant. According to some state recovery officials, the fear 
of being audited or being found noncompliant with program regulations 
caused many nonprofits to shy away from federal disaster assistance, 
much to the detriment of the state which relies on nonprofits to 
provide services after a disaster. One nonprofit official, who chose 
not to apply for federal funds, explained that even if he had the 
resources to hire the additional staff to fill out all the federal 
grant paperwork, he would rather put those resources into a direct 
service, such as rebuilding damaged homes in the community. While 
recognizing the burdens that may accompany meeting federal grant 
requirements, it is also important to acknowledge the potential value 
of such requirements in helping minimize fraud, waste, and abuse and 
ensuring fiscal accountability to the American taxpayer. 

Nonprofit officials we spoke with were also concerned with the 
distribution of federal grant funds. Officials from several nonprofits 
reported that some federal grant awards were late, putting additional 
strain on the limited resources of smaller community-based 
organizations. For example, funding for the FEMA Phase II pilot 
program for disaster case management was not awarded until July 2008 
in Mississippi and October 2008 in Louisiana although the funding 
period began in June 2008.[Footnote 19] Phase II grantees had already 
hired staff and began delivering case management services in 
anticipation of grant funding being available. As a result, some 
nonprofits had difficulty meeting expenses while they waited for grant 
funding to be awarded. As we have previously reported, many of the 
smaller case management organizations were unable to find alternative 
resources to pay the case managers hired in June and had to lay off 
caseworkers while awaiting for federal funding to be made available. 
[Footnote 20] On the other hand, larger organizations such as Catholic 
Charities sometimes had to wait up to 1 year to receive reimbursement 
for as much as $1 million in grant funds without having to take such 

In recognition of the widespread devastation that resulted from the 
2005 hurricanes and to address the challenges associated with 
navigating the federal aid process, Congress passed legislation to 
amend several assistance programs that helped nonprofit organizations 
deliver federally supported recovery assistance to residents of the 
Gulf Coast. Most notably, provisions in the Post-Katrina Emergency 
Management Reform Act of 2006 expanded eligibility requirements for 
nonprofit organizations to receive FEMA grant assistance, which 
enabled some nonprofit organizations to receive financial assistance 
to rebuild their storm-damaged facilities to better serve their 
clients.[Footnote 21] Congress also passed special legislation that 
provided additional cash assistance to hurricane victims through the 
TANF block grant.[Footnote 22] In order to deploy more highly trained 
workers to impacted communities, CNCS waived state matching 
requirements for sponsoring AmeriCorps workers in Louisiana and 
counted the cost of housing them as an in-kind match for sponsoring 
AmeriCorps workers. These program waivers made it easier for 
nonprofits with limited financial resources to sponsor AmeriCorps 

In February 2009, President Obama created the President's Advisory 
Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in order to 
bring together leaders and experts in fields related to the work of 
faith-based and neighborhood organizations. The council was designed 
to make recommendations to the government on how to improve 
partnerships. In March 2010, the council issued its first report 
which, while not focused on Hurricane Katrina and Rita recovery 
efforts, included recommendations that could be useful for long-term 
disaster recovery.[Footnote 23] For example, the report recommended 
providing greater flexibility for the coordination and integration of 
government funds designated for specific program activities. The 
report went on to suggest that federal agencies develop rules and 
regulations to encourage coordination and integration of programs and 
services, and that agencies be mandated to be receptive to requests 
for rulemaking changes that were aimed at facilitating coordination 
and integration. In addition, the council recommended that in order to 
ease the burden on nonprofit social service agencies, agencies remove 
barriers to service provision such as matching fund requirements, 
burdensome reporting and regulations, and slow payments and 

FEMA Has Taken Steps to Address Gaps in VAL Training and to Improve 
Information Sharing: 

While some recovery officials and nonprofit representatives we spoke 
with held generally favorable opinions about the usefulness of the 
assistance provided by FEMA VALs, they identified opportunities for 
improvement in the areas of training and information sharing. 

A senior FEMA official told us that, following Hurricane Katrina, the 
need for VALs considerably outstripped the supply then available in 
the VAL cadre requiring FEMA to hire temporary VALs without much 
experience. In addition, ensuring continuity presented a challenge as 
FEMA experienced a large turnover among VALs in the first year after 
the disaster. FEMA officials acknowledged that inconsistent 
performance among VALs was partly due to frequent changes in assigned 
staff as Disaster Assistance Employee staff was rotated in and out of 
VAL positions in the months immediately following the storms. However, 
they noted that this became less of a concern as time passed and more 
experienced VALs were brought on board and as VALs were hired from the 
local population and therefore able to remain in their roles for 
longer periods. FEMA offered several independent study disaster 
training courses for VALs, including one that is directly related to 
VAL duties entitled "The Role of Voluntary Agencies in Emergency 
Management." FEMA also provided some basic in-person training to VALs 
in the field, but this training was provided on an ad hoc basis 
primarily by a single regional VAL. This official provided training 
for two different regions (a total of 13 states) as well as recovery 
training to VALs in Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricanes 
Katrina and Rita while also handling his regular regional VAL duties. 

We have previously reported that VALs could benefit from additional 
training on federal programs and resources. For example, we found that 
FEMA did not provide training for VALs on Public Assistance Grant 
policies and recommended that the agency provide role-specific 
training to VAL staff, including instruction on the Public Assistance 
Grant program and the policies and opportunities that apply for 
nonprofit organizations.[Footnote 24] FEMA has taken steps to respond 
to our recommendation as well as address other training issues in its 
VAL program. These include changes that FEMA is making that address 
our previous report recommendation that FEMA provide role-specific 
training to VALs. For example, FEMA has issued a VAL Handbook, which 
provides a written guide on essential VAL activities and procedures, 
and has been revising its VAL training for the past year. It expects 
to complete three VAL-specific courses by the end of 2010. One of the 
courses FEMA officials are working on is an introductory VAL course, 
for which they are holding focus groups with regional VALs and 
voluntary agencies for their input. FEMA expects to pilot this course 
in the fall of 2010. FEMA is also developing a volunteer management 
course for which they are pulling subject matter experts from the 
National VOAD, recovery committees, and from state and local 
officials. The VAL program's expectation is that the revised VAL 
training program will be incorporated into a larger FEMA initiative 
involving credentialing of disaster workers. 

FEMA officials also acknowledged that VALs would benefit from a 
mechanism through which they can more effectively share information 
and best practices that are drawn from a variety of different sources 
(such as VALs, local recovery partners, and the National VOAD). GAO's 
guidance on internal controls encourages agency management to provide 
effective internal communications as one way to promote an appropriate 
internal control environment.[Footnote 25] This guidance suggests 
agencies establish mechanisms to (1) allow for the easy flow of 
information down, across, and up within the organization, and (2) 
enable employees to recommend improvements in operations. Consistent 
with this concept, FEMA has taken steps to improve information sharing 
in its VAL program. More specifically, FEMA is developing a knowledge 
repository known as the VAL Community of Interest on an internal DHS 
network site. Once operational, FEMA officials expect the site to 
function as a repository of resources, planning, and best practices 
that will facilitate information sharing and be readily available to 
the entire VAL community, even when they are deployed in the field. 

Lack of Long-Term Recovery Guidance Regarding Partnerships with 
Nonprofits Is Being Addressed by the Federal Government and Others: 

Collaboration is essential for an effective partnership between the 
wide range of participants involved in the disaster recovery process. 
The National Response Framework (NRF) defines the roles of federal, 
state, local, tribal governments; the private sector; and voluntary 
organizations in response to disasters.[Footnote 26] The NRF, which 
became effective in March 2008, designates 15 emergency support 
functions that address specific emergency disaster response needs. 
[Footnote 27] We have previously reported on the importance of 
defining roles and responsibilities in both response and recovery. 
[Footnote 28] FEMA acknowledges that recent disasters highlight the 
need for additional guidance, structures and leadership to improve 
support and management of recovery activities.[Footnote 29] 

As we have recently reported, the federal government has taken steps 
to strengthen the nation's disaster recovery process.[Footnote 30] In 
2006, Congress required FEMA to develop a national disaster recovery 
strategy for federal agencies involved in recovery.[Footnote 31] In 
response to this mandate, FEMA and HUD are leading a diverse group of 
federal agencies and other organizations to develop the National 
Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF). Among the NDRF's objectives is to 
define the federal, state, local, tribal, nonprofit, private-sector, 
and the individual citizen's roles in disaster recovery. To date, the 
NDRF working group has facilitated various meetings as well as 
developed a Web site for input from federal, state, tribal and local 
government leaders; recovery-assistance providers; nonprofit 
organizations; private sector representatives; and interested 
citizens. The group has developed a draft framework, which includes 
details about expected roles and responsibilities of nonprofits in 
disaster recovery. 

In addition, at the President's request, the secretaries of DHS and 
HUD are co-chairing a Long-Term Disaster Recovery Working Group 
composed of the secretaries and administrators of 20 federal 
departments, agencies, and offices. This working group was established 
at the end of September 2009 and joined the NDRF effort started by 
FEMA in August 2009. This effort to examine lessons learned from 
previous catastrophic disaster recovery efforts includes areas for 
improved collaboration and methods for building capacity within state, 
local, and tribal governments as well as within the nonprofit, faith-
based, and private sectors. The working group is charged with 
developing a report to the President, which will provide 
recommendations on how to improve long-term disaster recovery. 

The National VOAD is leading a parallel effort to establish a National 
Nonprofit Relief Framework (NNRF) intended to complement the NRF and 
NDRF by providing detailed guidance on nonprofit organization roles 
and responsibilities, programs, polices, and interagency protocols. 
FEMA is also involved in this effort and, according to information 
provided by FEMA officials, this document will serve as a major source 
of program coordination information for both government and non-
governmental organizations involved in all phases of emergency 
management. According to these officials, the NNRF will help fill a 
planning void that currently exists regarding what is known about the 
disaster response and recovery capacity of the nonprofit sector. A 
final version of the NNRF is expected to be issued in December 2010. 

In addition to the guidance that frameworks like the NDRF and NNRF can 
offer, cooperative agreements provide another mechanism that can 
further clarify the roles and responsibilities of specific nonprofits 
involved in recovery activities. Several nonprofit and federal 
officials we spoke with identified such agreements or memorandums of 
understanding established between FEMA and specific nonprofit 
organizations as a tool to clarify expectations and avoid confusion 
that can arise in the wake of a disaster. These cooperative agreements 
could provide a road map for federal-nonprofit partnerships by 
outlining the functional capabilities and resources of each partner, 
and by outlining implementation strategies for delivering critical 
recovery services. Such agreements could also help avoid duplication 
of efforts among the various disaster recovery players and expedite 
recovery efforts. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided a draft of this report to the Secretary of Homeland 
Security for review and comment. DHS concurred with the report but did 
not provide us with formal written comments. The department did 
provide several technical clarifications that we incorporated as 
appropriate. We also sent drafts of the relevant sections of this 
report to cognizant officials from the nonprofits involved in the 
specific examples cited in this report and incorporated their comments 
as appropriate. 

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents 
of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days 
from the date of this letter. We will then provide copies of this 
report to other interested congressional committees; the Secretary of 
Homeland Security; the Administrator of the Federal Emergency 
Management Agency; and federal, state, local, and nonprofit officials 
we contacted for this review. This report also is available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at [hyperlink,]. If you 
have any questions about this report, please contact me at (202) 512-
6806 or at Contact points for our Offices of 
Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last 
page of this report. Key contributors to this report are listed in 
appendix II. 

Signed by: 

Stanley J. Czerwinski: 
Director, Strategic Issues: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

To address our first objective on how the federal government has 
worked with nonprofit organizations to facilitate Gulf Coast Recovery 
following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, we first conducted a 
systematic review and synthesis of GAO and other reports to identify 
(a) the range of federal programs used to support Gulf Coast recovery; 
(b) the types of nonprofit organizations that provide federally- 
supported recovery assistance; and (c) the types of service delivery 
mechanisms federal agencies used when working with nonprofit 
organizations. For this objective we also interviewed officials 
involved in recovery efforts from federal, state, and local 
governments, as well as officials from nonprofit organizations, to 
help us refine our understanding of the range of federal government 
relationships with nonprofit organizations active in Gulf Coast 
recovery. To address our second objective describing steps taken by 
the federal government to address challenges encountered when working 
with nonprofits to deliver recovery services, we conducted interviews 
with federal, state, local, and nonprofit officials and obtained 
supporting documentation of federal actions where appropriate. 

We focused our review on Louisiana and Mississippi because these two 
states sustained the most damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and 
thus accounted for a large portion of the federal funding made 
available to Gulf Coast states for recovery. In addition, given their 
role in disaster recovery, we placed a focus on the activities of two 
components of the Department of Homeland Security--the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency and the Office of the Federal Coordinator 
for Gulf Coast Rebuilding--in describing how the federal government 
has worked with nonprofits on Gulf Coast recovery. 

We selected a variety of individuals and organizations in order to 
capture a wide range of perspectives including (a) the range of types 
of nonprofit organizations active in Gulf Coast recovery, (b) the 
broad range of federally supported recovery services delivered to 
residents of the affected areas, (c) the range of service delivery 
mechanisms used to deliver services, and (d) individuals and 
organizations identified through our literature review, informational 
interviews, and/or referrals received during the course of our work. 
In total, we interviewed federal, state, local, and nonprofit 
officials from the following 48 agencies and organizations. While 
findings from our interviews cannot be generalized, this approach 
allowed us to capture important variability within the various sectors. 

Federal Officials: 

* Corporation for National and Community Service, Washington, D.C. 

* Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Headquarters, Washington, 

* FEMA Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office, New Orleans, La. 

* FEMA Mississippi Transitional Recovery Office, Biloxi, Miss. 

* FEMA Region IV, Atlanta, Ga. 

* FEMA Region VI, Denton, Tex. 

* Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding, 
Washington, D.C. 

State Officials: 

* Louisiana Department of Social Services, Baton Rouge, La. 

* Louisiana Recovery Authority, Baton Rouge, La. 

* Louisiana Serve Commission, Baton Rouge, La. 

* Mississippi Department of Human Services, Jackson, Miss. 

* Mississippi Office of the Governor, Office of Recovery and Renewal, 
Jackson, Miss. 

Local Officials: 

* Office of Emergency Preparedness, City of New Orleans, New Orleans, 

* Office of Intergovernmental Relations, City of New Orleans, New 
Orleans, La. 

Nonprofit Organizations: 

* America Speaks, Washington, D.C. 

* Annunciation Mission, Free Church of the Annunciation, New Orleans, 

* Back Bay Mission, United Church of Christ, Biloxi, Miss. 

* Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans, New Orleans, La. 

* Baptist Community Ministries, New Orleans, La. 

* Broadmoor Development Corporation, New Orleans, La. 

* Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans, New Orleans, La. 

* Greater Light Ministries, New Orleans, La. 

* Greater New Orleans Disaster Recovery Partnership, New Orleans, La. 

* Hope Community Development Agency, Biloxi, Miss. 

* Israelite Baptist Church, New Orleans, La. 

* Katrina Relief, Poplarville, Miss. 

* Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Baton Rouge and 
New Orleans, La. 

* Louisiana Family Recovery Corps, Baton Rouge, La. 

* Louisiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Baton Rouge, 

* Lutheran Episcopal Services in Mississippi, Jackson, Miss. 

* Mississippi Center for Nonprofits, Jackson, Miss. 

* Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, Jackson, Miss. 

* Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Gulfport, Miss. 

* Mississippi Interfaith Disaster Task Force, Biloxi, Miss. 

* Mississippi Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, Jackson, 

* Rand Gulf States Policy Institute, New Orleans, La. 

* Rebuilding Together New Orleans, New Orleans, La. 

* Recovery Assistance, Inc., Ministries, Biloxi, Miss. 

* Restore, Rebuild, Recover Southeast Mississippi (R3SM), Hattiesburg, 

* Salvation Army, Jackson, Miss. 

* St. Bernard Project, Chalmette, La. 

* The Advocacy Center, New Orleans, La. 

* Trinity Christian Community, New Orleans, La. 

* Tulane University Center for Public Service, New Orleans, La. 

* United Methodist Committee on Relief/Katrina Aid Today, New York, 

* United Way for the Greater New Orleans Area, New Orleans, La. 

* Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans, New Orleans, La. 

* Waveland Citizens Fund, Poplarville, Miss. 

We conducted this performance audit from February 2008 through July 
2010 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit 
to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable 
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 
We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for 
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We 
requested comments on a draft of this report from the Department of 
Homeland Security (DHS). DHS concurred with the report but did not 
provide formal written comments. However, the department had several 
technical clarifications that we incorporated as appropriate. We also 
provided drafts of relevant sections of this report to state, local, 
and nonprofit officials involved in the specific examples cited in 
this report, and incorporated their comments as appropriate. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Stanley J. Czerwinski, (202) 512-6806 or 


In addition to the contact named above, Peter Del Toro (Assistant 
Director); Michelle Sager (Assistant Director); Jyoti Gupta; Kathleen 
Drennan; Anthony Patterson; and Jessica Thomsen made key contributions 
to this report. 

[End of section] 


[1] The tax-exempt sector is often referred to as the nonprofit 
sector. For the purposes of this review, we define "nonprofit 
organization" as any organization having federal tax-exempt status as 
approved by the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c)(3) of 
the Internal Revenue Code and is used interchangeably with the terms 
"voluntary organization" and "voluntary agency." 

[2] Other products associated with this request include: GAO, Disaster 
Assistance: Federal Assistance for Permanent Housing Primarily 
Benefited Homeowners; Opportunities Exist to Better Target Rental 
Housing Needs, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: Jan. 14, 2010); Disaster Housing: FEMA Needs More 
Detailed Guidance and Performance Measures to Help Ensure Effective 
Assistance after Major Disasters, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 28, 
2009); Hurricane Katrina: Federal Grants Have Helped Health Care 
Organizations Provide Primary Care, but Challenges Remain, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: July 2009); 
Hurricane Katrina: Barriers to Mental Health Services for Children 
Persist in Greater New Orleans, Although Federal Grants Are Helping to 
Address Them, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: July 13, 2009); Disaster Assistance: Greater 
Coordination and an Evaluation of Programs' Outcomes Could Improve 
Disaster Case Management, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: July 8, 
2009); and Disaster Assistance: Federal Efforts to Assist Group Site 
Residents with Employment, Services for Families with Children, and 
Transportation, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 11, 2008). 

[3] See GAO, Disaster Recovery: Past Experiences Offer Insights for 
Recovering from Hurricanes Ike and Gustav and Other Natural Disasters, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C.: Sept. 26, 2008); Homeland Security: Observations on DHS and FEMA 
Efforts to Prepare for and Respond to Major and Catastrophic Disasters 
and Address Related Recommendations and Legislation, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: July 31, 
2007); and Disaster Assistance: Better Planning Needed for Housing 
Victims of Catastrophic Disasters, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 28, 

[4] U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Data Book, [hyperlink,] (accessed Mar. 25, 2010). 

[5] GAO, Nonprofit Sector: Increasing Numbers and Key Role in 
Delivering Federal Services, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: July 24, 

[6] According to FEMA officials, this figure may be understated as 
nonprofits and long-term recovery committees do not have a central 
repository of all dollars spent. Officials stated this figure does not 
include dollars spent by voluntary agencies that did not flow through 
the long-term recovery committee process. 

[7] See [hyperlink,]. 

[8] While UMCOR had originally planned for matching funds, many 
nonprofits were not in a position financially to put up a match so 
that requirement was never enforced, although some did do so. 

[9] See [hyperlink,]. 

[10] According to FEMA, among the specific job duties of VALS include 
the following: (1) assisting voluntary agencies in the development and 
promotion of state and local Voluntary Organizations Active in 
Disasters and other coalitions such as unmet needs/resource 
coordination committees for long-term recovery; (2) initiating and 
maintaining a close working relationship between FEMA and voluntary 
agencies including soliciting participation of the voluntary agencies 
in preparedness activities such as training and exercises to improve 
response and recovery capacity; (3) providing technical advice to FEMA 
Regional and Area Offices, other federal agencies, and state emergency 
management officials regarding the roles and responsibilities of 
voluntary agencies active in disaster and emergency situations; (4) 
assisting and collaborating with other FEMA Regional and Area Offices 
staff in the development and maintenance of emergency response and 
recovery plans to ensure that voluntary agencies' capabilities, 
specifically as they relate to emergency assistance, mass shelter and 
feeding, donations management, and other voluntary agency disaster 
relief activities are recognized in the plans; (5) assisting with the 
collection and dissemination of information concerning emergency 
incidents, including initial damage assessment, emergency response 
activities, and continued response and long-term recovery activities/ 
plans of voluntary agencies; (6) assisting and supporting the FEMA 
Individual Assistance officer on disaster operations in providing 
consultative support to voluntary agency leadership and encouraging 
collaboration among voluntary agencies; and (7) providing or making 
available to the voluntary agencies information on the status of 
federal and state response and recovery programs and activities. 

[11] According to FEMA VAL officials, currently there is one vacancy 
in the Region 9 Pacific Area Office. 

[12] As of 2009, VALs are no longer under the FEMA headquarters' 
direction but instead are under each FEMA Region Individual Assistance 
office's direction. However, FEMA's VAL headquarters is responsible 
for establishing memorandums of understanding with nonprofit 
organizations that have strong operational capability that complements 
FEMA's programs. FEMA has 10 memorandums of understanding with large 
nonprofits: National VOAD, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, the 
United Methodist Committee on Relief, the Adventists Community 
Services, Church World Service, Feeding America, Mennonite Disaster 
Service, Northern American Mission Board---Southern Baptist 
Convention, and Operation Hope USA. 

[13] In addition, according to FEMA officials, there is one VAL 
assigned as the Disaster Case Management Pilot Program Coordinator/ 
Liaison for Louisiana. 

[14] As of February 2010, Mississippi no longer had any Katrina VALs 
in the state. 

[15] OFC was established by Executive Order 13,390; 70 Fed. Reg. 
67,327 (Nov. 1, 2005). The order was amended by Executive Order 
13,463, which extended the office through February 28, 2009; 73 Fed. 
Reg. 22,047 (Apr. 18, 2008). On February 20, 2009, the President 
signed Executive Order 13,504, which again extended the office through 
September 30, 2009; 74 Fed. Reg. 8431 (Feb. 24, 2009). On September 
29, 2009, the President extended OFC for a final time, authorizing its 
continued operation for another 6 months in Executive Order 13,512; 74 
Fed. Reg. 50,911 (Sept. 30, 2009). 

[16] See GAO, Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast 
Rebuilding: Perspectives and Observations, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 10, 

[17] See [hyperlink,]. 

[18] See GAO, Nonprofit Sector: Treatment and Reimbursement of 
Indirect Costs Vary Among Grants, and Depend Significantly on Federal, 
State, and Local Government Practices, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: May 2010). 

[19] FEMA awarded a conditional grant for the Mississippi program in 
July 2008 but the program did not begin until August 2008. While 
Louisiana received an initial grant in October 2008, it received an 
adjusted grant award letter from FEMA for the program in February 
2009--8 months after the program was intended to begin. 

[20] See [hyperlink,]. 

[21] The Stafford Act through the Post-Katrina Emergency Management 
Reform Act of 2006 (Title VI, P.L. 109-295) and the Security and 
Accountability for Every Port Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-347) was amended 
to include new provisions regarding the federal aid provided to 
private nonprofit organizations affected by a major disaster. The 
statute authorizes the President to define facilities that provide 
"essential services of a governmental nature to the general public." 
These provisions, similar to those in FEMA regulations, establish 
eligibility to museums, zoos, performing arts facilities, community 
arts centers, and other facilities that "provide health and safety 
services of a governmental nature." The amendments also added the word 
"education" to the listing in the section of the law that defines 
critical services. 

[22] TANF Emergency Response and Recovery Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-68). 
TANF recipients who receive ongoing cash assistance are subject to 
certain requirements, such as time limits and work requirements. For 
fiscal year (FY) 2005 and FY 2006, the 2005 act waived penalties on 
the states for failure to meet state work requirements as well as the 
penalty for having more than 20 percent of its caseload on the rolls 
for more than 5 years (the TANF time limit). It also gives the 
authority to states to provide short-term, nonrecurring benefits for 
evacuee families receiving benefits in other states and families in 
hurricane damaged states, to meet subsistence needs and not have that 
time count for purposes of work requirements or time limits. For 
Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the Act also made additional 
funds available for FY 2006 in the form of loans not to exceed 20 
percent of the amount of the State's family assistance grant for FY 

[23] President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood 
Partnerships, A New Era of Partnerships: Report of Recommendations to 
the President, March 2010. 

[24] See [hyperlink,]. 

[25] GAO, Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Aug. 

[26] See [hyperlink,]. 

[27] The NRF made a key change to the prior 2004 National Response 
Plan (NRP) by shifting the primary agency responsibility for 
coordinating federal support for mass care from the Red Cross to FEMA. 

[28] See [hyperlink,] and 

[29] FEMA, National Disaster Recovery Framework and Long-Term Disaster 
Recovery Working Group Briefing, Mar. 22, 2010. 

[30] GAO, Disaster Recovery: FEMA's Long-term Assistance Was Helpful 
to State and Local Governments but Had Some Limitations, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 30, 

[31] See 6 U.S.C. § 771. 

[End of section] 

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