Navigating the New FEMA Public Assistance Grants Manager and Grants Portal

Technology continues to shape the way we share and disperse information, and the way we handle Emergency Management is no exception. As far back as October 2016, FEMA began testing a new delivery model for their Public Assistance (PA) Program. As with most technology solutions, it can be cumbersome to navigate the new systems—I wanted to share some ways to help you prepare yourself for the unthinkable with the new FEMA PA Grants Manager and Grants Portal.

Overview – What’s new?

  • The new model takes the applicant’s workload from the field and shifts it into centralized locations away from the disaster area, referred to as Consolidated Resource Centers (CRC), where subject matter experts are staffed to process grant applications across multiple disasters. Moreover, the new model streamlines and enhances grant management and fiscal responsibility processes through the entire lifecycle.
  • The foundation for the new model is an improved system-wide technology that standardizes project workflows for program participants via two new computer programs: Grants Portal on the applicant side and Grants Manager on the FEMA side.
  • Program applicants, FEMA, and state entities have complete visibility with all parties having user access to upload documents.
  • There are no longer field “FEMA Project Specialists” who identify, scope, and estimate the damages from the disaster area. “Site Inspectors” are now responsible for documenting the damages from the disaster site. This is the primary duty of the Site Inspectors as they do not write scopes of work or estimates.

How to Navigate the New System

  • A Program Delivery Manager (PDMG) is the FEMA Field Manager that is assigned to each applicant. The PDMG is the new “face of FEMA” and primary FEMA point of contact for the applicant.
  • The applicant has the option to formulate their own projects and submit them with all supporting documents to FEMA through the Grants Portal.
  • Applicant-level documents are uploaded into the Grants Portal. These documents include but are not limited to:
    • An applicant procurement policy, a force account labor policy, insurance policies, a request for assistance, etc.
    • Note: These standard programmatic documents will follow the applicant through multiple disasters for years.
  • Project-level documents are uploaded into the Grants Portal. These documents include but are not limited to:
    • Contractor invoices, contractor estimates, an insurance adjuster report, an insurance settlement/denial, force account labor spreadsheets, force account materials and supplies spreadsheets, a photo report, an applicant-provided scope of work, a project estimate spreadsheet, and all other documents that support the damages and repairs for the project
  • Numerous FEMA managers/supervisors review the submitted FEMA package before it is forwarded to the CRC for review.
  • The CRC reviews the submitted FEMA package for accuracy, program eligibility, appropriate supporting documentation, and other requirements per FEMA PA Program policy.
  • The CRC applies any applicable insurance, federal road, and other applicable reductions to the overall cost of the project.
  • The CRC then submits the reviewed project back to the PDMG for applicant signatures.

Conclusion

This two-part platform is not only designed to promote transparency and accountability for all stakeholders involved in the PA grants process, but also to improve timeliness and enhance simplicity in the PA Program.

Still have questions about FEMA’s updates to its existing disaster recovery grant systems? Get up to speed now before disaster strikes. Contact GP Strategies by leaving us a comment below or by reaching out to one of our experts at jnorman@gpstrategies.com or (972) 978-0949.

Josh Norman

Josh Norman

Mr. Norman is the Director of Emergency Management for GP Strategies. He is a highly experienced Recovery Manager leading major engagements for the City of New Orleans Katrina Recovery, the State of Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, and South Carolina. As a pioneer in the field of Recovery Management services, Mr. Norman has supported the National Advisory Council Stafford Act Sub-Committee on policy changes to Debris, Emergency Protective Measures and Alternate and Improved Projects.
Josh Norman
3 comments on “Navigating the New FEMA Public Assistance Grants Manager and Grants Portal
  1. Joe LaFleur says:

    Good update on the new system Josh. Thanks.

  2. dawn says:

    Josh,
    Apparently there is a lot of confusion about entering information into grants manager. List take it from the bottom up. When is site inspector received work order, the work order has several fields one of the fields it’s called a DI or damage inventory. Each damage inventory is related to a facility, that could be a road bridge could be building a park etc. However somewhere along the line they became confusion and the PDMG started putting Facilities on one DI
    As you will understand one DI equals one facility. Because that facility gets labeled in there for you in are the components there afterwords and those components are related to that specific facility.
    And from what I could understand this so that Fema could better track the individual facilities as to how many times they have or have not been repaired and what monies Fema has or has not given to the applicant for that facility.
    Do you have an in-depth knowledge of how all of grants manager works from all the difference in various aspects. From the site Inspector perspective on up to the PDMG the TFL’s and so forth?

    • Yes. We do have in-depth knowledge of how the Grants Portal and the Grants Manager software is supposed to be utilized as part of the “New” FEMA process. It sounds like you have a strong understanding of how it is supposed to work as well. Our Specialists have actually participated with FEMA in development of the process, the Grants Manager/Portal software, and its implementation.

      If you have any more specific questions or would like to discuss in greater detail we would be more than happy to arrange a time to do so. Thank you for questions and interest.

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