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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeNewsLocal governmentFEMA Lifts Manual Drawdown Restriction for Reimbursement of Recovery Project Spending

FEMA Lifts Manual Drawdown Restriction for Reimbursement of Recovery Project Spending

Governor Bryan met with FEMA’s Acting Region 2 administrator David Maurstad in January. (Submitted photo)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has lifted the manual draw requirement for reimbursement of post-hurricanes Irma and Maria recovery project spending in the territory, according to Governor Albert Bryan Jr. and the Office of Disaster Recovery.

While under FEMA’s manual drawdown process, the U.S. Virgin Islands was required to submit funding reimbursement requests to FEMA for approval before gaining authorization to draw funds.

FEMA imposed the manual draw requirement after a 2018 audit found discrepancies with reimbursements filed by the VI Government with FEMA for contract work done in the immediate aftermath of the storms in 2017.

In 2019, Gov. Bryan initiated the Office of Disaster Recovery to manage and oversee the disaster recovery process and reconcile past recovery-related discrepancies.

Since the manual drawdown implementation, the Office of Disaster Recovery has developed robust grants management and administration protocols and practices in accordance with applicable federal laws, regulations and administrative requirements.

“The Office of Disaster Recovery has demonstrated the capacity and laid the foundation to ensure that the territory manages federal funds correctly,” said Office of Disaster Recovery Director Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien. “FEMA’s decision to lift this requirement is a testament to the hard work of our staff and their continued pledge to develop the capacity and processes to maintain an accurate accounting of recovery dollars.”

Bryan said Monday that FEMA’s decision is another step forward in the Bryan-Roach Administration’s efforts to continue and, in many instances, correct and expedite the territory’s post-hurricanes Irma and Maria recovery and rebuilding.

“This indicates the diligence of the Office of Disaster Recovery and our administration’s efforts to get our recovery on the right track,” the governor said. “It was a long road toward accountability, but the clean-up and the additional protocols that have been put in place are now bearing fruit for the people of the Virgin Islands. Now that we don’t have to abide by those restrictions, we can process payments and move projects more quickly.”

FEMA’s decision came in the form of a January 29 letter informing the Government of the Virgin Islands that the agency had completed its assessment of the GVI’s progress in responding to the Notice of Potential Debt Letter issued to the territory on Dec. 15, 2020.

In the letter, FEMA noted that the ODR made substantial progress in providing supporting documentation in defense of the potential debt and that its responsiveness in conjunction with the approved internal control plans led to the decision to lift the manual drawdown process currently in place. The territory will continue to coordinate with FEMA to ensure compliance with all federal guidelines and standards.

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