FEMA Flood Mapping: Enhancing Coordination to Maximize Performance

November 2013 - Congress directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 to contract with the National Academy of Public Administration to prepare a report on “how FEMA should improve interagency and intergovernmental coordination on flood mapping, including a funding strategy” and how FEMA “can establish joint funding mechanisms with other federal, state and local governments to share the collection and utilization of data among all governmental users.”

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Academy formed a five-member Panel, chaired by Beverly A. Cigler, and found that while FEMA has made progress in coordination on flood mapping since the initiation of the program Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (known as Risk MAP), it should enhance efforts going forward. Improvements in coordination can be achieved by further leadership attention to strategic goals and their communication; consistent use of employee performance policies and metrics; deployment of more user-friendly web sites; transferring best practices among the ten FEMA regions; and conveying risk information to localities.

Other recommendations issued by the Panel relate to best practices around the establishment of funding strategies and joint funding mechanisms. The Panel found that the FEMA’s flood mapping efforts and other federal government mapping activities could be advanced by a government-wide strategy in multi-purpose mapping capabilities. This strategy can be used to drive investments. The Panel also recommends that the Office of Management and Budget work with FEMA and its major partners to use the budget crosscut required by the Biggert-Waters Act to drive more strategic operational and funding coordination.