Support Better Management of Disaster Relief Funds

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Target: The United States Office of Management and Budget

Goal: Efficiently respond to the increase in natural disasters to reduce deficit spending

A new study from the Center for American Progress revealed a shocking rise in federal disaster relief costs, due to the ignorance of congress. Previous to this study, no one knew the true cumulative federal cost of disaster relief.  As part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, the Office of Management and Budget was required to report to Congress on  ‘disaster relief spending … over the previous 10 years.’ However, in determining the average costs per year they excluded the highest and lowest expenditures, resulting in a tremendously inaccurate ‘average’.

The Office of Management and Budget appropriated $11.5 billion in disaster relief funding for fiscal year 2011, an annual average that was significantly lower than the $60 billion spent. Because of continuous under-budgeting, lawmakers resort to deficit spending, typically through emergency supplemental bills that are passed apart from the regular budget process. To reduce deficit spending, we must accurately budget our disaster relief funding and take preventive measures.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, major weather disasters have increased from an average of two per year in the 1980’s to more than ten per year since 2010. Despite this fact, federal assistance for pre-disaster mitigation has actually declined over the past decade. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, estimates that “a dollar spent on mitigation saves society an average of $4,” in lower damages. It is imperative that the federal government provides technical and financial assistance to the most at-risk communities; such efforts are an excellent economic investment. Because the federal government pays for a major share of disaster recovery, investing in resiliency now will help protect taxpayers from more deficit spending in the future.

The Office of Management and Budget should be annually required to conduct a complete accounting of funds spent on disaster relief and recovery programs in the previous fiscal year. This would enable public officials to better understand the breath of this issue and provide the appropriate amount of financial assistance, reducing deficit spending. Additionally, the government needs to help communities develop and implement plans of resilience to future disasters, which will save money as these disasters become more frequent. Sign this petition in request of better disaster relief funds management.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Office of Management and Budget,

In America, there has been an alarming increase in natural disasters, yet we have seen a decrease in pre-mitigation assistance and continuous under-budgeting. Because of a lack in comprehensive knowledge of expenditures, the federal government severely underestimates the cost of natural disasters. This leads to the passing of emergency bills, outside of the budgeting process, resulting in deficit spending.

To effectively manage this immense growth in extreme-weather disasters, we must take action to provide the appropriate funds and increase investments in community resilience. You should annually record a complete accounting of funds spent on disaster relief and recovery programs in order to appropriate the correct amount of funds, reducing deficit spending. Also, develop an ample plan to help communities prepare for the inevitable impacts of increased extreme weather. You should estimate the financial support necessary for communities to develop and implement these plans to increase their resilience. Revenue should be afforded to provide resources for pre-disaster mitigation planning. In the long run, this will save the federal government, and ultimately taxpayers, an exponential amount. If you efficiently respond to the growth in natural disasters, we can reduce deficit spending.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Moore via Pixabay

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94 Signatures

  • Alice Rim
  • Eric von Borstel
  • Hermann Kastner
  • James Thrailkill
  • Mal Gaff
  • Terrie Phenicie
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