Approaches for Converting National Flood Insurance Program Communities From the Emergency Phase to the Regular Phase

Gao ID: 121046 April 8, 1983

GAO discussed its ongoing review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) progress in converting flood-prone communities from the emergency phase to the regular phase of the National Flood Insurance Program. GAO found that FEMA will not meet the August 1983 deadline contained in the Flood Insurance Act of 1968 for providing flood insurance rate maps for all the Nation's flood prone communities. The two main reasons that prevented FEMA from developing flood insurance rate maps within the allotted timeframe were the unexpected magnitude of the undertaking and the fact that the alternative techniques for producing rate maps which were less costly and time consuming were not used. Due to early procedural problems in the flood insurance program, Congress amended the act to create an emergency phase which allowed easier entry into the program. The emergency phase is currently set to expire in May 1983. If no further congressional action is taken, about 291,000 policyholders will soon lose their flood insurance coverage. To avoid this, GAO believes that Congress needs to consider and select an optional approach to completing the mapping project. GAO believes that, if the mapping effort is extended, Congress should require FEMA to review each community and select the optimum conversion method which balances the extra information obtained by detailed mapping against the need for that information when less costly alternatives are available. GAO also found weaknesses in the program's financing methods and offered Congress two possibilities for increasing its control over the program's financing.

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