Graves’ Bill to Improve FEMA’s Performance Signed into Law

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
U.S. Congressman Garret Graves

A bill authored by Congressman Garret Graves (R-South Louisiana) to directly address the frustrations disaster victims experience regarding the status of federal assistance administered through FEMA, was signed into law by President Trump last week. Graves worked with local flood victims and parish and state officials to address these challenges through legislation.

It’s just wrong that disaster victims are often re-victimized by FEMA inefficiencies,” said Graves. “Here we are in the 21st Century, living private lives that revolve around technology – yet interacting with the government is like going back in time. Flood victims still have to dial an 800 number, sit on hold and wait for one of the hundreds of FEMA call center employees to search a database to get an update on a claim’s status. The process is filled with uncertainty, is expensive and leaves taxpayers feeling extraordinarily frustrated.”

Graves’ H.R. 1679, the FEMA Accountability, Modernization and Transparency Act of 2017 requires the agency to modernize its grant management system and provide secure online access to applicants. It would ensure FEMA’s improvement efforts include robust applicant accessibility and transparency measures.

Graves continued, “This bill would also bridge the current information gap between state and local government efforts that undermines their ability to complement federal recovery programs. This does not pass even the most basic common sense test. Gathering and sharing information on response and recovery work is a basic management principle and serves only to improve efficient execution of overall efforts.”

Rep. Graves is a leading voice in the effort to modernize the federal government and a number of his technology solutions have made significant progress, including his FEMA Modernization, Accountability and Transparency Act, the Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act and a provision in the FAST Act that encouraged better application of technologies to improve traffic systems – which was signed into law. This year he was invited to the White House to participate in the president’s American Technology Council, accompanying CEOs from Amazon, Microsoft and other companies at the forefront of tech-innovation. Graves is also a member of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s innovation working group, which exists to identify legislative opportunities to innovate how the government operates to improve its performance.

Contributed by Stacy Schliewe, Community Liaison & Deputy Communications Director, Office of Congressman Garret Graves (LA-06)