Apr 05 2022
Webster's SPEED Recovery Act Passes House
Washington, DC - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Small Project Efficient and Effective Disaster (SPEED) Recovery Act. This legislation was introduced by Florida Congressman Daniel Webster, R-Clermont, with Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO) and bipartisan leaders on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. This bill will help expedite disaster recovery efforts, particularly in small and rural areas, allow more recovery projects to proceed under simplified procedures and in turn streamline the process and paperwork for many projects, reduce administrative burdens, and provide more certainty in the recovery process for communities.
“Too often disaster recovery assistance for devastated communities is buried behind reams of bureaucracy and administrative paperwork,” said Rep. Webster. “The SPEED Recovery Act will streamline the process to provide Floridians, particularly in rural communities with small projects, with speedier disaster recovery assistance.”
Historically, the number of disaster projects that qualified as small projects with simplified procedures accounted for 95% of such projects. However, because the threshold for a “small project” has not kept pace with inflation and modern construction costs, a much larger percentage of projects (nearly 25% of all recovery projects) now fall outside of the scope of a “small project.” This has added unnecessary paperwork and burdens for both communities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The SPEED Recovery Act will give communities more control in the rebuilding process for smaller projects, and it will once again ensure that approximately 95% of projects qualify as “small projects.” Notably, while “small projects” constitute a large percentage of total projects, they only represent about 10% of federal disaster funding costs, and the bill’s proposed adjustment represents minimal risk to the taxpayer. FEMA will then be able to focus more of its staff and time on addressing larger, more complex projects.
The simplified procedures for small projects were established over three decades ago, but the cost threshold in law for what qualifies as a “small project” has only been updated once since then. This bill will update the threshold to $1 million and allow small rural communities to recover more efficiently from a disaster. The SPEED Recovery Act is also supported by the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), and the Big City Emergency Managers (BCEM).