Sunday, September 16, 2012

Another Enthralling Post: The FEMA and CNCS Budgets

At some point during the last couple of years, I started getting into one of the most arcane things in the federal government: the budget. Given that I’m now a government employee, working for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) via funding provided by FEMA, I thought it meet to go and explore the money that CNCS and FEMA get to do what they do. Here, then, are the numbers, straight from the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012.


The CNCS gets $751,672,000 for operating expenses. $82,834,000 of that is earmarked for carrying out provisions of the National and Community Service Act of 1990, whatever they are. The National Service Trust (NST) gets $212,198,000. The NCCC brass can also transfer funds from “Operating Expenses” to grants administered by the trust, as long as those grants support people engaged in national service. $83,000,000 is earmarked for administrative salaries and expenses, and $4,000,000 is for the Inspector General’s office (again, whatever that is).

The bill also contains several administrative provisions. The first one prohibits hanky-panky in the grant awarding process: nobody gets to know until the selections are announced, and significant changes to the process or requirements have to be made in public view. Another mandates that Americorps programs getting NST grants have to pick up 24% of the cost (I’m assuming that’s what “minimum share requirement” means) for the first three years that they have a grant. Afterwards, they have to meet some overall minimum share requirement specified under federal law. A third says that donations “shall be used to supplement and not support current programs and operations”, and a fourth stipulates that only veterans of Americorps programs get the education award that we’ll be eligible for after successfully completing this program.

I don’t have the numbers for FY2012, but in FY2010 the entire Americorps NCCC program—five campuses, 1,200 members, administrative staff, food stipend for a year, vehicles, miscellaneous expenses, etc., etc., cost just $29 million. In government terms, you can find that kind of money down the back of the sofa. I’ve heard our TLs say that training each regular Americorps member costs $24,000; my campus director of operations (DDO) says it’s more like $27,000 when you take the cost of renting the campus into account. FEMA Corps members, the TLs say, cost $36,000 because of the two extra weeks of FEMA training we do. According to my campus DDO, the FEMA Corps budget is still confidential, and I don’t feel like filing a Freedom of Information Act request to pry it out. However, the $29 million mark at least establishes a ballpark figure. I’d be surprised if the total cost of FEMA Corps was over $40-45 million—which, again, comes through CNCS but from FEMA.

Anyway, when you put together all the numbers, the CNCS gets $1,040,870,000 to fund Americorps, Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America (LSA), its three main programs. That’s FY2012. In FY2010, Americorps VISTA got $99,074,000, while LSA got $39.5m. Americorps NCCC, as I mentioned, got $29 million that year.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency gets $895,350,000 for salaries and general expenses. $41.25 million of that is for the Urban Search and Rescue System, $5.493m for the Office of National Capital Region Coordination, $12m for improvements at the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, and $13.662m for modernizing automated systems. $1,349,681,000 is for “grants, contracts, cooperative agreements, and other activities”; $50m goes to Operation Stonegarden and $100m for areas with a high risk of terrorist attack. The bill earmarks $231,681,000 for “training, exercises, technical assistance, and other programs, of which $155,500,000 shall be for training of State, local, and tribal emergency response providers.” One would assume that the Center for Domestic Preparedness is funded out of that pot.

An additional $675,000,000 is federal firefighting and protection funding, $350,000,000 is for emergency management performance grants, $44,038,000 for the United States Fire Administration and firefighting purposes, $700,000,000 for carrying out the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act--$24,000,000 of which is earmarked for the Inspector General for audits and investigations. Another $295,000 is for the costs of direct loans, authorized under the Stafford Act. $97,712,000 is for expenses incurred under the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, plus whatever state and local governments want to chip in for “cost-shared activities”.

 $171,000,000 goes to the National Flood Insurance Fund (NFIF). Apparently there’s an immense amount of money in the NFIF; The cap that you can take out in a given year is $132m for “operating expenses”, $1.07 billion and change for “commissions and taxes of agents”, $60m for flood mitigation and unlimited for interest on treasury borrowing. $35,500,000 is available under the Stafford Act for pre-disaster mitigation grants as well as $120,000,000 for emergency food and shelter.

That’s $4,418,596,000 by my count. In addition, in a different appropriations bill, Congress authorized $2.65 billion for immediate disaster relief (to be meted out by the director of FEMA within 15 days). That brings the total to $7,068,596,000 by my count, give or take a few million. Some of that pot has presumably funded FEMA Corps, from its inception as an idea of deputy FEMA administrator Richard Sorino to the present day (and far beyond).

No comments:

Post a Comment