Timelines to Submit Declaration Request for the Public Assistance Program

The Stafford Act recognizes that primary responsibility for emergency management is at the local level; thus, Stafford Act assistance is intended to be available only as a supplement to other governmental and non-governmental resources. The Act instructs Governors to base their declaration requests on the finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary. The Stafford Act is not intended to provide assistance for every event that impacts a State or county, so FEMA established evaluation factors based on this principle.

PUBLIC ASSISTANCE PROGRAM REQUEST:

When Governors request that the President declare a major disaster which authorizes Public Assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to make a recommendation to the President whether assistance is warranted.

  • Estimated cost of the assistance. For State requests, FEMA evaluates the estimated cost of Federal and non-Federal public assistance against the statewide population, to give some measure of the per capita impact within the State. This provides a sense of proportional impact of on the population of the State. We use a figure of $1.37 per capita (FY13) as an indicator that the disaster is of such size that might warrant Federal assistance (adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index).

    FEMA would like your opinion on whether the estimated cost of assistance is an appropriate factor to evaluate Indian tribal government requests for Public Assistance during the pilot program. FEMA welcomes comments on whether requests should be evaluated based on per capita, and if not, how Indian tribal government population size should be considered. FEMA also welcomes comments on what considerations FEMA should evaluate in determining the appropriate damage indicators for Indian tribal government requests.


  • FEMA has also established a minimum of $1 million in public assistance estimated damages per disaster, based on the belief that we can reasonably expect even the least populated States to cover this level of public assistance damage.

    FEMA would like your opinion on whether an Indian tribal government can reasonably be expected to cover that level of public assistance damage during the pilot program. FEMA welcomes comments on whether there should be a similar, if lower, minimum threshold applied to Indian tribal government requests. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether such a minimum damage amount should depend on the population of the requesting Indian tribal government, and/or on other information.


  • Localized impacts. For State requests, FEMA evaluates the impact of the disaster at the county and local government level, as well as the impact on American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Indian tribal government levels. This is because, at times, there are extraordinary concentrations of damages that might warrant Federal assistance, even if the statewide per capita is not met. This is particularly true in situations where critical facilities are involved, or where localized per capita impacts might be extremely high.
  • Insurance coverage in force. For State requests, FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage that is in force, or should have been in force, as required by law and regulation at the time of the disaster.
  • Hazard Mitigation. For State requests, FEMA also considers the extent to which State and local government measures contributed to the reduction of disaster damages for the disaster under consideration.
  • Recent multiple disasters. For State requests, FEMA evaluates the 12-month disaster history to better understand the overall impact on the State or locality. FEMA considers declarations under the Stafford Act, as well as declarations made by the Governor, and the extent to which the State has spent its own funds on those disasters.
  • Programs of other Federal Assistance. For State requests, FEMA also considers the programs of other Federal agencies because at times, their programs of assistance might more appropriately meet the needs created by the disaster.

    FEMA would like your opinion on whether these factors (localized impacts, insurance coverage in force, hazard mitigation, recent multiple disasters, and programs of other Federal assistance) are appropriate for the evaluation of Indian tribal government requests for Public Assistance during the pilot program. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating the level of impact and tribal capability to respond to and recover from an event for Public Assistance requests from Indian tribal governments.

FEMA welcomes comments on any or all of the topics addressed below in the manner you prefer. Comments are also welcomed on any other issues that may not be covered in the below topics.