CIGIE’s Disaster Assistance Working Group
What is the Disaster Assistance Working Group?
The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency’s (CIGIE) Disaster Assistance Working Group (DAWG) is intended to help coordinate the Federal Inspectors General (IG) community’s oversight efforts of disaster-related funds.
Where can I find DAWG and disaster-related OIG reports?
To find OIG reports about Federal disaster recovery programs on Oversight.gov, navigate to the Reports page and use the Filter Options to conduct a relevant Keyword search. You may also filter reports by Report Type by clicking on “Disaster Recovery Reports.” Please also visit the individual webpages of CIGIE’s member OIGs to find additional disaster-related reports. A list of Disaster Recovery Reports can be accessed here.
How does the Federal Government help disaster victims?
The DHS's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates the Federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100-707, gives the President the authority to make disaster declarations that allow FEMA and other Federal agencies to provide financial and physical assistance to disaster victims. FEMA offers several disaster assistance programs for individuals and State and local governments, tribes, and certain private non-profit organizations.
Besides FEMA, at least 16 other Federal agencies have a role in providing disaster relief and assistance for presidentially declared disasters, including HUD, SBA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). All programs offered have specific eligibility requirements that must be met and an application is generally required.
For help and additional information about Federal disaster assistance programs, please visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call FEMA’s Helpline seven days a week at:
- 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362),
- TTY 1-800-462-7585,
- 711 or VRS 1-800-621-3362.
What is the Inspector General community’s role in disaster assistance oversight?
Disasters, both natural and man-made, provide unique opportunities for fraud, abuse, and mismanagement that would deprive affected individuals the full benefit and use of Federal funds designated for relief and recovery. Congress and the public rely on the Federal IG community and the GAO to be the principal Federal line of defense against such incidents. State and local government audit and investigative organizations also provide a layer of oversight and routinely coordinate with Federal IGs to help ensure that disaster funds are used as intended and according to requirements.
To read more about the history of CIGIE’s DAWG and the IG community’s efforts to coordinate disaster oversight prior to the creation of Oversight.gov in 2017, please visit IGnet.gov.
Coordination with GAO
CIGIE and its disaster oversight coordinating committees also have a long history of working with GAO to leverage resources, eliminate the potential for duplication of effort, and better coordinate responses to major disasters. GAO is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and conducts audits and investigations of Federal programs and operations. As the most recent DAWG was formed to coordinate IGs’ oversight of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, GAO’s staff, including its Chief Operating Officer and its Managing Director for Homeland Security and Justice, have begun meeting with DAWG leadership to coordinate GAO’s and the IG community’s disaster oversight efforts. To read about GAO’s work, please visit GAO.gov.
Where can recipients of Federal disaster-related funds find “Audit Tips” for managing this money?
To assist State and local governments and others avoid common mistakes that occur when spending Federal disaster assistance, in 2016 the IG community issued a report titled "Audit Tips For Managing Disaster-Related Project Costs.”
On behalf of CIGIE, in 2016 the HUD OIG also issued a Special Report on the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. HUD OIG reviewed the eight Federal agencies’ spending of $46.5 billion received for expenses related to Superstorm Sandy and other disasters. They also identified common concerns and made suggestions to improve oversight and enhance collaboration, and reported on best practices. This report should be helpful to officials responsible for recovery efforts related to any disaster including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
What guidance has the White House given Federal Departments and Agencies and others about recent disasters?
On October 4, 2017, the White Houses’ Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memorandum (M-18-01) to the Heads of all Federal Departments and Agencies on Developing Agency Funding and Authorization Requests to Support Recovery and Rebuilding after Recent Hurricanes. To read the full memorandum, and other guidance and circulars issued by OMB, please visit www.whitehouse.gov/omb/.
How do I report suspected Disaster Fraud?
If you have knowledge of fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief assistance or operations, please contact the IG community’s Disaster Fraud Hotline.
- Call the Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721
- FAX the Disaster Fraud Hotline at (225) 334-4707
- Or write to: National Center for Disaster Fraud Baton Rouge, LA 70821-4909
Calls can be made anonymously and confidentially.