Order Code RL33264
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
FEMA’s Flood Hazard Map Modernization Initiative
February 3, 2006
Wayne A. Morrissey
Information Research Specialist (Science and Technology)
Knowledge Services Group
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
FEMA’s Flood Hazard Map Modernization Initiative
In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This
program called for the federal government to help cover costs of flood damages,
creating a structure that assigned the financial responsibility to individuals and
entities particularly at risk for flooding. Congress amended NFIP in 1973, requiring
the Flood Insurance Administration in the Department of Housing and Urban
Development to produce countywide “Flood Insurance Rate Maps,” or FIRMs, to set
federal flood insurance premiums based on flood risk. In 1979, the newly created
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) became responsible for producing
FIRMs. By 1994, FEMA had developed a prototype FIRM as a digital file, or
DFIRM, that could be displayed on a computer. The agency announced that for flood
data management and map production efficiency it intended to expand its DFIRM
inventory. In 1997, when DFIRM production was becoming operational, FEMA’s
director delivered a strategic plan for a “Flood Map Modernization Initiative
(FMMI)” to Congress, whereby all new flood maps would be produced as DFIRMs
and 100,000 FIRMs would be converted to digital file format. In 1999, FEMA
reported that FMMI would be completed by 2007. FEMA’s goal now is 2008.
Congress appropriated an initial $5 million to establish the FMMI in FY2000.
After that initial step a debate developed concerning future funding for the program.
The White House and Congress had differences of opinion about how the program
should be funded, by an agency’s internal fee-levying and spending authority or by
appropriations. At times, the House and Senate debated about whether to fund the
program at all. The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States led to
the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by the Bush
Administration and Congress in December 2002 (P.L. 108-5). FEMA was brought
under DHS authority in March 2003 and continues to operate the flood mapping
program. In FY2004, FEMA’s budget authority was transferred to DHS
DFIRMS are developed from U.S. Geological Survey digital maps depicting
visible land-surface features such as waterways, terrain, and regional infrastructure.
Local or regional infrastructure and environmental data provided by local officials
are also incorporated to identify where flood hazards may affect human settlements.
Although some local data have become available as digital maps, local paper maps
are still prevalent and are produced at geographic scales different from what USGS
uses. In 1997, when FEMA unveiled the FMMI strategic plan, some regional and
local authorities became concerned about FEMA’s new requirement that they provide
local data and maps as digital files to aid in DFIRM production. At the time, FEMA
made this a condition for remaining in the NFIP and retaining federal flood insurance
coverage. However, by 1999, FEMA realized that it would need to provide grants
to some state/tribal governments and direct funding to economically challenged local
jurisdictions to attain FMMI goals. FEMA has since contracted for professional
mapping assistance in converting paper flood maps to digital files for uniform
DFIRM input. Recognition of flood hazard studies needed after Hurricane Katrina,
executing timely regular updates of DFIRMs, and the fate of the FMMI under DHS
are some of FEMA’s recent concerns. The report will be updated as warranted.
Background on the Federal Flood Mapping Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Budget Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Cost Estimates for FMMI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Decreasing Cost Projections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Increasing Costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
FEMA Multi-Year Flood Hazard Identification Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Federal Assistance, FMMI Partnerships,
and Community Outreach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
State, Tribal, and Local Government Assistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
FEMA Community Outreach . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Commercial Ventures and Federal Contracting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Technological Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Reorganization of FEMA
and Possible Changes to the FMMI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Department of Homeland Security Reorganization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Options and Alternatives Proposed for FEMA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
National Flood Mapping-Related Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
Acronyms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Glossary of Flood Hazard Mapping Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Early Spending Authorization for Flood Map Modernization . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Establishment of the Flood Map Modernization Fund . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
FMMI Budget Requests and Appropriations: FY2003-FY2006 . . . . . . . . 34
President’s Request . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Congressional Appropriations Actions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
List of Tables
Table 1. Early Cost Estimates for FMMI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Table 2. Revised Projected Annual Spending for FMMI
(FY2003-FY2008) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Table 3. Spending Authority and Appropriations
History for FMMI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
List of Figures
Figure 1. Example of Economic Impact of FMMI: City of San Mateo,
California . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
FEMA’s Flood Hazard
Map Modernization Initiative
Background on the Federal Flood Mapping Program
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), currently part of the
Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (EPRD) of the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS),1 develops and produces digital flood insurance rate maps
popularly known as DFIRMs, which depict flood hazard risks throughout the United
States.2 This responsibility arose originally out of the National Flood Insurance
Program Act of 1968 (NFIPA, 42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.).
When Congress amended the NFIPA in 1973,3 it required that all communities
declared by the former Flood Insurance Administration (FIA) in the Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as flood-prone be eligible for federal flood
insurance.4 In addition, the FIA was required to conduct flood hazard studies (FHSs)
in communities, identify flood risks, and develop (paper) flood maps, or FIRMs, as
a standard tool for setting federal flood insurance rates and for establishing criteria
for a community’s participation in the NFIP.5
On Mar. 2, 2005, Director Michael Chertoff of the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) proposed a reorganization of the agency through the 2SR Initiative. Among other
things, 2SR would eliminate the EPRD in favor of reestablishing FEMA with more
independence within the DHS. The Director began implementing the initiative Oct. 1, 2005.
(See CRS Report RL33042, Department of Homeland Security Reorganization: The 2SR
Initiative, by Harold C. Relyea and Henry B. Hogue.)
FEMA flood maps depict Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), regulatory floodways, the
100-year floodplain, or Coastal Flood Hazard Areas (CFHA). (See Glossary.) These maps
are used to illustrate whether real property and structures may lay within a FEMAdesignated flood hazard zone or are adjacent to one.
FIRMs produced prior to 1973 were often hand-drafted based on information from local
land surveys and local community property data and were produced on an ad hoc basis after
a major flooding disaster. After 1973 uniform standards were developed for FIRM
production under the NFIP.
42 U.S.C. §4012, “The sole criterion for determining whether an applicant will be accepted
as an insured involves whether or not the community in which the property is located
participates in the NFIP; if so, the property is then rated in accordance with its [flood] zone
and other criteria such as total amount of coverage requested by the community.”
For the purpose of this report, “community” is the administrative unit of government that
participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which has been mapped by
FEMA for potential flood hazard risks, and for which a unique FIRM has been produced.
Although flood maps are often county-wide, the definition of “community” may be
Subsequent to 1973, substantial time, labor, and financial resources went into
compiling an inventory of more than 100,000 paper FIRMs. To produce them,
FEMA collected and compiled geophysical and environmental data, conducted land
and aerial surveys, and interviewed local citizens as a prerequisite for developing a
FIRM. This procedure is known as a Flood Hazard Study (FHS), and is still used by
the flood insurance industry and FEMA for determining flood hazard risks and by
floodplain management professionals and developers for making land-use planning
decisions.6 In 1979, after its creation by President Carter, FEMA assumed
responsibility for producing and maintaining a large inventory of standardized
FIRMs. It also certified their quality and accuracy. By the mid-1990s, FEMA
managed about 100,000 county-based paper FIRMs. It sold copies of these and
provided flood-related consultative services to local governments, surveyors,
engineers, lending institutions, and private citizens.
In the early 1990s, some FHS-related environmental data and maps used to
develop FIRMs were becoming available in a new medium, as electronic digital data
files. Mapping professionals could manipulate digital map files using an automated
geographic information system (GIS) and produce “derivative” maps for a variety of
specific purposes. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the Department of the
Interior led studies on digital mapping as a means to tackle the problem of managing
federal spatial (geographic) data and information and map storage and distribution.
The first digital maps of land areas of the United States were developed by the USGS
National Mapping Division (NMD). NMD soon began developing standards for map
production and management for other federal mapping agencies.
In April 1994, President Clinton’s Executive Order 12906 mandated that USGS
promulgate standards for digital spatial data management that could be applied
uniformly across the federal government.7 The Clinton Administration envisioned
the creation of a “National Spatial Data Infrastructure” and an associated spatial data
clearinghouse available for public consumption.8 Developing standards for federal
digital spatial data storage and mapping came under the authority and guidance of the
newly created Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) established in USGS.9
expanded to include tribal, local, regional, and, in some cases, state governments.
An FHS yields “spatial” data, as defined by geographers. These may be quantitative or
qualitative measurements of the various geographic elements on a map relative to points,
objects, and areas of defined boundaries. These are referenced to specific geographic
coordinates (longitude and latitude). Spatial data can also be “attribute” data, which are
facts, statistics, and descriptions of natural and man-made phenomena associated with a
specific geographic location. On digital maps, geographic data are referred to as “spatiallyreferenced digital data (srdd).”
Executive Order 12906, “Coordinating Geographic Data Acquisition and Access: The
National Spatial Data Infrastructure,” 59 Federal Register 17670-17674, Apr. 13, 1994.
National Research Council, Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the
Nation (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1993).
FGDC, operating within the National Mapping Division of the Department of the Interior’s
Since then, FGDC has developed standards for (1) digital spatial data storage and
classification (metadata); (3) file contents (e.g., default data layers required to be
included in all federal maps, called the “data framework”); and (4) appearance (e.g.,
how digital federal maps look as graphic images on a computer workstation). The
FGDC also assisted federal agencies to comply with E.O. 12906.
After a few years, when digital maps were becoming somewhat commonplace,
FEMA, anticipating that electronic file transfer protocol (FTP) would become the
standard medium by which federal government agencies would exchange spatial data
and information, worked with FGDC to devise standards for digital flood maps.10 In
short time, FEMA developed a prototype digital flood insurance rate map, which it
dubbed the “DFIRM.” FEMA officials began to explore ways to make the flood map
production process and distribution more cost effective and mapping operations
better managed. To assist in that effort, Congress created a Technical Mapping
Advisory Council (TMAC) in the National Flood Insurance Program Reform Act of
1994 (P.L. 103-325, hereafter 1994 NFIPRA). TMAC was directed by the act to
make recommendations about how FEMA’s federal flood map program would
comply with E.O. 12906. The TMAC, chaired by FEMA, completed its work in
1997 and, among other things, recommended that the DFIRM be the standard tool by
which flood hazard risks would be assessed and federal flood insurance rates set.
TMAC also recommended development of an all digital map inventory as soon as
was possible. FEMA adopted both recommendations.11
Encouraged by a growing inventory of DFIRMs, in September of 1997 James
Lee Witt, then Director of FEMA, issued a seven-year strategic plan introduced as
the Flood Map Modernization Initiative (FMMI). The FMMI set out long-term plans
for digital flood hazard map production and management of inventory to support
federal flood insurance coverage decisions. The strategic plan indicated that FEMA
would convert more than 100,000 paper FIRMs to digital data format, and all new
flood maps and those in need of revision (updating) would be produced as DFIRMs,
if possible.12 FEMA stated that it would attain an all-DFIRMs inventory by 2007.13
U.S. Geological Survey, is an interagency group that coordinates standards for surveying,
mapping, and related spatial data management activities, including the development of
metadata, which describes those data sets. It was created on Oct. 19, 1990, in accordance
with OMB’s revised circular A-16, which (1) mandates a standard protocol devised for
collecting, archiving, and transferring digital spatial data, (2) requires that management of
such data be standardized across the federal government, and (3) requires that any
subsequent creation of federal mapping databases be in digital data format. See
National Research Council, Spatial Data Needs: The Future of the [USGS] National
Mapping Program (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1990).
FEMA, Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC), Final Report to the Honorable
James Lee Witt, Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency: A Summary of
Accomplishments and Recommendations, 1995-2000 (Washington, D.C.: FEMA, 2000).
Modernizing FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping Program 1999: A Progress Report, Ch. 3,
“Map Modernization Plan Objectives” (Washington, DC: Sept. 1999). This report focused
Program managers at FEMA, mapping professionals, and other stakeholders in
the FMMI, which include state, tribal, and local governments and private sector
enterprises urged the Clinton Administration to recognize that achieving a complete
DFIRM inventory would rely extensively on nurturing flood map partnerships within
NFIP-participating communities. From the outset of FMMI implementation few
government authorities were prepared to provide geographic data and maps in digital
format, produce digital maps, or convert older paper maps to digital files for FEMA.
In most cases, in-house capabilities of local governments were scarce or did not exist.
Many did not have sufficient monetary resources to pay for private sector services
nor the human resources needed mange such an effort. Still, FEMA mandated that
all NFIP communities have DFIRMs produced within seven years and that local or
regional contributions for the FMMI had to be digital data and/or map files in order
for them to remain in the NFIP and retain flood insurance coverage.14
Recognizing the financial hardship that might be experienced by some less
economically advantaged communities, and in particular those newly identified by
FEMA as flood-prone, in FY2000 Congress authorized establishment of a Flood Map
Modernization Fund (FMMF). President Clinton had requested spending authority
in his FY2000 budget to address immediate “flood map modernization” needs after
a presidentially declared flood disaster. From FY2000 through FY2002, Congress
authorized between $20 million and $50 million in disaster relief funding (DRF)
annually to conduct emergency flood hazard studies (FHSs) and to produce preFIRMS called “Flood Boundary Maps,” and to revise flood hazard maps as DIRMs
in affected areas.
President George W. Bush’s FY2003 budget request stated that “inadequate
funding hinders the [flood mapping] program,” and that “maps are needed to assist
rebuilding after disasters and to steer future development away from floodplains.”15
To address this problem, he requested $300 million in aggregate to fund the FMMI
from FY2003 through FY2007. The newly established Department of Homeland
Security (DHS)’s FY2003 budget justification stated that the President’s requested
funding level for the FMMI would help to allay some community governments’
financial concerns about development of DFIRMs. In addition, to assuage some
public opposition and mistrust of FMMI, FEMA proposed to invest a portion of the
requested funding in educating local community governments and the public about
the initiative. FEMA urged the President to request congressional appropriations for
non-reimbursable grants authorized by Title IV of the Robert T. Stafford Act of 2004.
FEMA also planned to train state, tribal, and local governments in managing floodrelated emergency management through its field officers and through its own
on, among other things, FEMA’s determination to have all digital flood maps (DFIRMs)
available by 2007.
Ibid, Sect. 1, Background: Strategic Plan for FMMI, 1997.
Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, Fiscal Year 2003,
Budget of the U.S. Government, “Federal Emergency Management Agency: Status Report
on Selected Programs” (Washington, DC: GPO, 2002), pp. 315-318.
certified emergency management academy in Emmitsburg, PA. As an “in-kind”
service, FEMA would assist local emergency management authorities in increasing
In addition to the $300 million appropriation requested by President Bush for
FMMI, he stated that another $350 million in spending authority for FY2003 through
FY2007 would be derived from flood map services fees.16 In FY2003, for the first
time since the creation of the Flood Map Modernization Fund, Congress appropriated
a total of $150 million for FMMI, or half of the President’s request. Additional
spending authority from flood policy fees was not approved. Since then, the
Administration’s funding request and subsequent congressional appropriations for
FMMI have been level funded at around $200 million annually.
Since its inception, FEMA’s Flood Map Modernization Initiative (FMMI ) has
faced economic, social, and legal issues, which supporters and non-supporters alike
have identified as potential “barriers” to the program’s success.17 With respect to
economic “barriers” to progress, FEMA’s flood mapping partners, some of which
historically have provided flood-map-related data and other supporting information,
have posed the following questions:
Who pays for collection of non federal digital data used for
modernizing and updating flood insurance rate maps?
Who is responsible for managing the suite of those digital data?
Who has proprietary rights to local data and maps after they are
converted to digital format?
What are the requirements and schedules for future updating of
Who is responsible for updating them?
Can private entrepreneurs compete for contracts for flood hazard
studies and DFIRM production?
Could private citizens or entire NFIP communities be required to
pay higher federal flood insurance rates after transition to DFIRMs?
Could private citizens lose their homes, properties, or businesses
because of flood map revisions?
Ibid. “Federal Emergency Management Agency: The President’s Proposal,” pp. 318322, including funding table.
Some compare FMMI’s development with that of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure
(NSDI) created by E.O. 12906. During NSDI’s planning stages a panoply of technical,
social, and legal issues were raised, which ranged from (1) potential cost of the project; to
(2) challenges of digital data acquisition; (3) privacy rights of landowners vis-a-vis data
collection; (4) citizens’ concerns about the personal nature of those data which could be
included in publically accessible (mapping) databases; (5) proprietary rights to those spatial
data; and, finally, (6) national security implications of those data. See “National Spatial
Data Council — a True Partnership for NSDI,” GEOworld, Nov. 1999, pp. 36-37; and,
“What’s the Federal Role in NSDI?,” GEOworld, Apr. 2000, pp. 48-50.
Can private citizens challenge FEMA’s determinations of flood
hazard risk on a DFIRM?
As the FMMI has progressed, many of these questions have been addressed by
FEMA. It has lauded the assistance provided through voluntary partnerships which
have developed through long standing relationships with non federal government
officials and private enterprise. FMMI program managers have noted that these
partnerships were integral for conceiving and developing the FMMI, and that they
will be key to ensuring that there are regularly updated flood hazard maps for the
FEMA’s earlier projected costs to implement FMMI, and requirements imposed
on NFIP communities have prompted local government authorities to question what
resources communities can reasonably be expected to provide to the agency.
Although FEMA has historically enjoyed free access to much of community-level
proprietary data and maps compiled by flood map partners, leveraging the expenses
associated with FMMI has required thus far that 20% of federal funding and the value
of grants extended to implement FMMI be matched by states. However, FEMA has
accepted “in-kind” services from local mapping partners, including human resources
to assist in conducting FHSs for DFIRMs.
Cost Estimates for FMMI
In May 1999, FEMA officials projected an original cost of $1.2 billion for
implementing FMMI. (See Table 1.) That estimate was based on a survey of 10%
of communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Results of the survey were extrapolated for the entire 100,000 communities then
mapped under the NFIP. In addition, a major economic assumption at that time was
that regular annual appropriations for FMMI would begin in FY2000. Congress, did
not appropriate annual funding for the FMMI until FY2003, however.18 19
Decreasing Cost Projections. A second round of cost projections was
reported only three months later, in August 1999. FEMA released its first Map
Modernization Plan Update, which took into account several factors and assumptions
about program costs that had not been considered in the May 1999 projection. For
example, the report stated that by August 1999 FEMA had made substantial progress
in launching DFIRM operations and it was already providing limited digital mapping
services. In addition, by that time a portion of the paper FIRM inventory had been
converted to, or revised in digital format. Also, by the time President Bush had
U.S. Congress, House Subcommittee on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies
Appropriations, 2002, report on H.R. 2620 (H.Rept. 107-159, July 17, 2001). The
Subcommittee recommended $100 million for a “new flood map modernization program”
in lieu of the President’s request for funding of $300 million; however, no appropriations
were approved for FMMI in FY2002.
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Appropriations, the Omnibus Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2003, conference report to accompany H.J.Res. 2, (H.Rept. 108-10, Div.
L, Homeland Security Act of 2002 Amendments). See FEMA, “Flood Map Modernization
Fund,” Feb. 13, 2003, p. 1475.
submitted his FY2001 budget in February 2000, FEMA’s digital map customer
service component, the “Map Service Center,” was providing access to a limited
number of DFIRMs that were available on Compact Disk for sale.20 FEMA noted in
the August 1999 update that because of operational advances alone, the incremental
costs associated with product distribution would be reduced by $23 million, as
compared with May 1999 estimates.21
Table 1. Early Cost Estimates for FMMI
FEMA-funded flood data updates
Map and customer services initiatives
Conversion to metric and NAVD88
Contracted administrative staff
Expected income from existing fees
Incremental appropriations needed for FMMI
Digital conversion and map maintenance
Total mapping costs
Source: Modernizing FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping Program, May 2001, estimating total mapping
costs and incremental appropriations needed for FY2003 through FY2007.
FEMA indicated another possible cost saving could result from routinely
employing high-tech remote sensing instrumentation on satellites in the “near future”
that is capable of collecting much of the environmental and geophysical data needed
as part of FHSs.22 One of the most promising applications FEMA has tested for
acquiring flood hazard risk data is LIght Detection And Ranging radar (LIDAR).
FEMA noted that this technology can be employed on the ground or mounted in
aircraft to survey land features which are known to signal potential flood hazard
FEMA, “Welcome to the Map Service Center’s Online Access to National Flood
Insurance Products,” at [http://www.msc.fema.gov/contact.shtml].
Matt Miller, Chief, Hazards Study Branch, Hazard Mapping Division, FEMA, Cost
Estimate for the Flood Map Modernization Plan, Aug. 27, 1999.
“Flood Hazard Mapping: Modernizing FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping Program,” Work
in Progress (e-newsletter), May/June 1999, at [http://www.fema.org/mit/tsd/mm_lidar.htm].
FEMA published guidelines for the use of airborne LIght Detection And Ranging
(LIDAR)® radar systems for use in flood insurance studies.
risk.23 USGS geophysicists had demonstrated before that airborne-mounted LIDAR
can penetrate dense vegetation and expose underlying terrain and was used to
produce digital imagery of the Earth’s “geological surface.” Mapping professionals
reported that when reconciled with aerial photography, LIDAR could be used to
validate spatial measurements on maps. They noted further that a geographic
information system (GIS) provides the means to superimpose LIDAR and visual data
“layers” to produce derivative maps depicting more precisely the spatial boundaries
of flood hazard risks.24
FEMA also conducted trials with international space agencies that operate
satellite-mounted Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR). IFSAR is a
microwave imagery technology whose data can be overlain on visual surface
imagery, including USGS maps, to demonstrate subtle environmental changes
occurring in as little as a 24 hour period, which may include shifting river beds and
channels.25 IFSAR also sense physical topographical changes at regional scales
making it possible for floodplain managers to monitor flood conditions at the
watershed level and validate changing base flood elevations (BFEs). At that scale,
IFSAR can depict maximum area of flood innundation and also measures the rate of
receding waters, which is important for post disaster assessment and for safe
repopulation in previously inundated flood-stricken areas. Still another technology
used by flood plain managers and USGS hydrologists is the satellite-based global
positioning system (GPS), which can detect real-time changes in depth, speed, and
volume of FEMA-regulated floodways.
Increasing Costs. Countering promising costs savings, the August 1999
report also projected potential cost increases for other components of FMMI, which
included (1) maintaining the physical infrastructure and equipment required to
produce, revise, and manage a growing volume of DFIRMs in the long-term (if those
were to be maintained in-house); (2) acquiring regional and local digital imaging and
mapping resources for previously unmapped communities with an FHS; and (3)
procuring technology and expertise to convert the balance of paper FIRMs to digital
file format. (See Table 1.) The 1999 Update concluded that FEMA would need to
republish about 17,500 FIRMS requiring new FHSs; convert the balance of FIRMS
to DFIRMs; and perform five-year map updates mandated by the National Flood
Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (NFIPRA) of 1994 for at least 74,500 NFIP
communities. Two years later, in May 2001, FEMA released a second FMMI
“LIDAR Provides Better Digital Elevation Modeling (DEM) Data,” GEOworld, Nov.
2000, pp. 30-31. This article discusses the role of aircraft-borne lasers for making more
accurate topographical measurements. For flood analysis and “bare earth models,” see
“Discover the Importance of LIDAR technology,” GEOworld, Jan. 2001, pp. 30-3.
Chad Mills, “Surviving the 500-Year Flood: Citywide GIS Helps North Dakota Citizens
Recover from the States Worst Winter on Record,” GEOworld, Dec. 2002, pp. 38-41.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission
(SRTM) at [http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/srtm/p_status.htm]. FEMA relies on USGS digital
elevation data collected by NASA and international space agency programs. These have
been made publically available on a limited basis. See also, “Satellite Imagery Used to
Reduce Seasonal Flood Risks,” GEOworld, Jan. 2002, p. 10, for Canadian Space Agency’s
applications of IFSAR aboard its Radarsat mission satellite.
Progress Report, which discussed additional short-term management needs for
implementing FMMI. This report also focused on contracting from the private sector
mapping program administrators, digital spatial data management experts, and
managers to oversee FHSs conducted in previously unmapped areas.26
Other unforseen cost increases resulted from Executive Order 12770, which
required that all federal agencies switch from English to metric measurements when
calibrating scientific instrumentation, conducting land surveys, and mapping spatial
data.27 The May 2001 FMMI Update indicated that FEMA would bear all costs of
revising FHSs published prior to the issuance of E.O. 12770, so that older flood map
metrics could be made uniform with post-1988 ones; measurements be made more
accurate; and “footprints” of map objects be drawn more precisely. FEMA reported
that private contractors would be hired to republish pre-1988 FHSs using metric
measurements. In addition, FEMA advised affected state and local officials that E.O.
12770 could change historically determined base flood elevation (BFE) in several
NFIP communities and result in changes to existing boundaries of Special Flood
Hazard Areas (SFHAs) and regulatory floodways on FIRMs. (See Glossary.)
Despite some changes in the FMMI since August 1999, those cost estimates
continued to be used as a baseline for proposed spending in the May 2001 FMMI
Progress Report. All told, FEMA had projected that total and incremental costs for
FMMI from FY2003 through FY2007 would decline by 10% and 14% respectively,
as compared with May 1999 estimates. FEMA estimated that fully implemented,
FMMI would “prevent $26 billion in flood damages to new buildings over a 50-year
FEMA Multi-Year Flood Hazard Identification Plan. In November 2004,
FEMA released a Multi-Year [flood] Hazard Identification Plan (MHIP) for FY2004
through FY2008.29 This report detailed a five-year-based schedule and funding
requirements for converting old flood hazard data and creating DFIRMs for the most
vulnerable communities to flooding. Those figures were presented as projected
outlays for FY2003-FY2008 as shown in Table 2.
FEMA’s MHIP emphasized that “the map modernization budget must fund data
maintenance and technical and program support in addition to map production and
Modernizing FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping Program: A Progress Report, May 2001,
sect. 1, p. 4.
E.O. 12770, “Metric Usage in Federal Government Programs,” July 25, 1991. FEMA is
required to reference pre-1988 flood insurance studies to vertical benchmarks redefined by
the USGS National Vertical Datum standard that was revised in 1988 (NAVD88), with
respect to base flood elevations published in FIRMs. See Metric Conversion Act of 1975,
P.L. 94-168 (15 U.S.C. §205(a) et seq.), as amended by §5164 of the Omnibus Trade and
Competitiveness Act of 1988, P.L. 100-418.
Modernizing FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping Program, May 2001, sect. 1, p. 2.
FEMA, Multi-Year Hazard Map Program: Acquisition Plan and Acquisition Program
Baseline (Washington, D.C: May 2004).
distribution.”30 The agency reclassified former FMMI budget categories to reflect the
goals of the new scheduling plan. However, except for addition of FY2008 figures,
totals obligations did not differ significantly from May 2001 estimates.
Table 2. Revised Projected Annual Spending for FMMI
FY2003FY2004 FY2005 FY2006 FY2007 FY2008
Customer Care & Outreach
Technical Support/Systems & Tools
Program Management Support
Source: FEMA, Multi-Year Flood Hazard Map Program: Acquisition Plan and Acquisition
Program Baseline, May 2004.
The MHIP indicated that funding would be distributed for specific flood hazard
studies and flood map production for the most vulnerable counties mentioned in the
report and ranked by priority. Funding would not be disbursed en bloc to states or
directly to local governments but instead to private contractors who participate as
Cooperative Technical Partners (CTPs) in NFIP communities. In this way, FEMA
stated, channels could be opened to leverage costs of DFIRM development. Also,
FEMA noted that contributions from CTPs could increase the value of the final
product (DFIRMs) in the long-run, such as for commercial applications, while
augmenting the volume of local spatial data resources made available to the federal
government for future DFIRM updates. FEMA did not attempt to quantify what
those future benefits might be or how they might affect future costs of FMMI,
To assist in developing annual spending plans for FMMI through FY2006 and
beyond, FEMA reported that it would concentrate on developing reliable national
flood data sets.32 FEMA stated that by providing state and local governments and the
private sector access to federal spatial data, an incentive would be created for the
latter to exchange local and regional spatial data/maps to the federal government. It
noted further that based upon increasing demands for access to federal spatial data
and maps — which would be limited to only those entities that could provide local
FEMA, Multi-Year [flood] Hazard Identification Plan, FY04-FY08 (Version 1.0),
“Distribution of Funds to the Region,” Sect. 3, pp. 1-9.
Ibid., Sect. 3, p 1.
data/map resources in digital format for DFIRMs in return — the response would
provide the agency a sense of where resources for local flood mapping should be
distributed to lesser economically advantaged communities throughout FEMA’s 10
Federal Assistance, FMMI Partnerships,
and Community Outreach
Historically, FEMA has used spatial (geographic) and environmental data and
information about local communities acquired from land surveys, local maps, and
public records, such as property tax assessments, provided by local authorities as part
of the Flood Hazard Study (FHS) process. FEMA officials note that these resources,
for the most part, have been available at little, if any, cost to the agency. Also,
because FEMA requires a FHS and subsequently a Digital Flood Insurance Risk Map
(DFIRM) be produced before a community can be accepted in the National Flood
Insurance program (NFIP) and, because the FHS provides the means for FEMA’s
Federal Insurance Mitigation Administration (FIMA) to set local federal flood
insurance rates and areal coverage, it considers contributions of local flood hazard
data and mapping a reasonable exchange for federal flood insurance coverage, and
a reciprocal benefit to be shared among state and local government officials.34
Many communities participating in the NFIP were concerned when conversion
to digital flood maps was outlined in President Clinton’s FY1999 budget request. In
his budget he indicated that “all new FIRMs and those in need of updating would be
produced digitally, beginning with that fiscal year’s procurement.” 35 It appears that
concerns and confusion still affect newly mapped communities and established ones
overdue for flood map updates. In July 2005, a Government Accountability Office
(GAO) official testified that
According to FEMA ..., if affected property owners do not understand why their
communities are being mapped (or re-mapped) or why their property is now in
a flood zone, the unexpected additional expense of new or increased flood
insurance premiums can form the basis of significant community opposition to
map modernization activities and lead to formal appeals, litigation, and delays
in implementing map changes.36
Ibid. See also FEMA Regions at [http://www.fema.gov/regions].
Association of State Floodplain Managers, Inc., “The Future of the National Flood
Insurance Program,” testimony of Chad Berginnis ... before the Senate Committee on
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Oct. 18, 2005, available at [http://www.floods.org].
Office of Management and Budget, Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal
Year 2000 (Washington: GPO, 1999).
U.S. Government Accountability Office, Flood Map Modernization: Federal Emergency
Management Agency’s Implementation of a National Strategy, “Statement of William O.
Jenkins, Jr., Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues before the House Subcommittee
on Housing and Community Opportunity, Committee on Financial Services,” GAO-05-894,
When FEMA had released its first Map Modernization Progress Report in
September 1999, and announced that all FIRMs would be converted to DFIRMS by
the end of 2007, many county and local community governments realized that they
could be facing mandatory flood map revisions imminently, or at any time over the
following seven years. These authorities, local businesses, and citizens alike
anticipated economic hardship if federal flood insurance coverage were to be affected
and if FEMA were to revoke eligibility for it after digital flood map revisions were
made. (See Figure 1.) Early opponents of the initiative argued that they were
already strained financially and struggling to comply with previous federal unfunded
mandates, while trying to achieve their own economic goals with limited fiscal
resources. Although some private surveying and mapping enterprises stood at the
ready to provide digital flood map-related assistance to local authorities; few, if any,
contracts were awarded.37
FEMA officials tried to convince potentially affected parties that the new digital
mapping requirements were not intended as a financial burden for local governments,
or individual citizens, but meant to ensure the public safety and limit financial losses
in areas vulnerable to potential flooding hazards. As an incentive to gain public
acceptance of FMMI, FEMA flood mapping partners urged the agency’s heads to
seek federal funding for non-reimbursable grants to states and channel direct funding
to more economically challenged communities.38 In that way, communities could be
availed of private sector digital mapping services and assist with local DFIRM
FEMA had reported from the outset that the FMMI would be a capital-intensive
venture initially; not only because of the costs associated with building an operational
infrastructure for producing and managing DFIRMS, but also because of having to
retain professional digital mapping expertise to provide FEMA the capacity to
convert its remaining paper FIRM inventory to a digital one. In its May 2001 FMMI
Progress Report, FEMA announced that private sector contractors would perform
new flood hazard studies (FHSs) and manage other flood map modernization
activities. It also stated that professional cartographers would be retained to certify
the precision and accuracy of DFIRMs. (See “Technological Challenges.”)
July 12, 2005 (Washington, DC: July 2005).
A number of private companies provide “certified” flood hazard determinations for private
property owners using pre-certified FEMA mapping data which are in the public domain.
These services are directed to individual homeowners or businesses who wish to accurately
validate the location of their property on FEMA flood maps to challenge a FEMA flood
hazard determination. See, for example, FloodSource.com: Flood Hazard Information at
FEMA, Flood Map Modernization Progress Report, May 2001.
Figure 1. Example of Economic Impact of FMMI: City of San Mateo,
“Changing Flood Zones Increases Insurance Costs: San Mateo Neighborhood Victim
of Flood Map Restructuring,” abc7news.com, October 17, 2001. This article discussed
how, in San Mateo, California, more than 6,000 homes were retrospectively designated
as being in a flood hazard zone by FEMA. A previous FHS for the area completed in
1993 showed no flood risk. However, after the Army Corp of Engineers issued new
federal engineering standards for levees and flood control canals, FEMA found one levee
in the community to be structurally too low to prevent flooding. Without retrofitting the
levee, the community would be in violation of the NFIP and might lose federal flood
insurance coverage altogether. FEMA instructed San Mateo's Director of Public Works
to retrofit the levee and, in the meantime, the community would have to accept the new
flood hazard determination, meaning increased flood insurance coverage. As a gesture,
FEMA offered reduced Pre-FIRM rates for those who responded within a proscribed
time limit. That notwithstanding, FEMA would be required to revise the city's SFHA
boundaries. Because this determination was made after the FMMI plan went into effect,
the new map would be required to be produced as a DFIRM. Higher insurance rates,
engineering costs, having to provide local data and maps in digital format, would leave
the the community economically challenged.
Although the city has spent about $6 million to date, it is estimated that they will
need to raise an additional $22.5 million to complete all projects, to achieve the goal of
being completely removed from FEMA SFHA determination by engineering means. For
an overview of what measures the city's Public Works Department has taken since to
reduce flood vulnerability and lower its insurance rates, see “FEMA Flood Insurance
Rate Update” at [http://www.cityofsanmateo.org/dept/pubwks/fema.html] accessed
January 27, 2006.
Because FEMA recognized it would likely assume most of the financial costs
of FMMI, it has sought to distribute available funding where it is needed most. In
FY2003, the Bush Administration announced a “new direction” for the federal flood
mapping program which was premised on Congress appropriating $300 million in
aggregate for FMMI through FY2008. (See Table 1.) FEMA officials described the
“new direction” as not all that new, because some NFIP-participating communities
had already or were implementing the FMMI with federal assistance. The FY2003
request stated that a new direction would require FEMA to (1) implement DFIRM
standards nationally; (2) broaden public outreach to encourage federal flood
insurance program participation; and (3) allocate federal funding for DFIRM
development “more equitably and consistently across NFIP communities.”39 The
strategies proposed by FEMA were as follows:
provide matching grants to state and Native American tribal
governments for purchasing digital surveying tools and automated
mapping technologies and support robust digital mapping efforts in
FEMA, Flood Map Modernization Initiative Progress Report, May 2001.
provide direct funding or non-reimbursable grants to financially
challenged local government jurisdictions to retain private sector
land surveying, digital data collection, digital map production
services, and to digitally convert local maps and spatial data
provide “in-kind” advisory services to any community that requested
them and to detail FEMA or FEMA-contracted employees to assist
in managing the FMMI workload in the field
enlist technical assistance from other federal mapping agencies, such
as USGS, as needed
contract directly with private land and aerial surveying and mapping
firms on behalf of communities to collect geographic data for
DFIRM updates, revise earlier FHSs, and undertake new FHSs in
flood-prone areas which have not had previous flood risk
Although FEMA and federal budget managers would have preferred to have
larger financial contributions from, work responsibilities shared with, and digital data
provided gratuitously by non-federal entities, the prospect for raising resources from
local authorities to offset any significant proportion of federal funding needed to
implement and sustain the FMMI would be low. FEMA concluded that it would
need to employ different combinations of all of the above strategies on a case-by-case
basis to attain its long-term FMMI’s goal.
State, Tribal, and Local Government Assistance
Communities that are financially challenged but in imminent need of federal
flood insurance coverage have been able to apply for federal grants or receive flood
map-related services directly from FEMA, based on needs. Such services have been
provided for specific projects, including preparing flood hazard boundary maps (preFIRMs) as a prerequisite for timely flood disaster payments, and subsequently for
conducting FHSs in the aftermath of a presidentially declared flood disaster in areas
that were not previously mapped. Funding is provided for such from the FEMA
Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) and made available through FEMA’s Flood Insurance
and Mitigation Administration (FIMA). In addition, FEMA has extended various
classification of grants to state and tribal governments to address natural disasters.
Federal grants and in-kind services for non-emergency flood mapping for
implementation of the FMMI are funded by the Flood Map Modernization Fund
(FMMF), which , since FY2003, is an annual discretionary appropriation for FEMA.
Prior to FY2002, flood disaster mitigation assistance was provided under FEMA’s
Project Impact.40 Criteria for eligibility for assistance were developed through a
congressionally authorized Cooperative Technical Partners (CTP) program, which
is still active under FEMA. Since FY2002, funding for pre-disaster mitigation grants
Begun in 1997, FEMA’s Project Impact was funded at around $25 million annually to
address local community mitigation projects for all types of natural and man-made disasters.
Funding for Seattle Project Impact was provided through a grant from FEMA to the “City
of Seattle Emergency Management.” See [http://www.cityofseattle.net/projectimpact/].
(See also “FEMA Community Outreach,” below.)
(PDMG) has been authorized by Title II of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and
Emergency Assistance Act (“The Stafford Act,” 42 U.S.C. 5121) and those grants are
extended en bloc to states. The PDMGs primarily assist local emergency
management authorities in developing disaster mitigation strategies for all natural
disasters including, hurricanes, tornadoes, wind and water damage, fires, and
earthquakes, and terrorist acts. FEMA allocated grants to state and tribal
governments who determine how PDMGs will be used to address all possible
disasters in their respective emergency planning. There can be stiff competition
among states’ various disaster mitigation programs for use of PDMGs. In some
states, these have been used to fund county-based FMMI projects such as (1)
complying with NFIP-regulated flood map requirements; (2) mitigating localized
flood hazards; and (3) minimizing potential economic losses for small businesses due
Some states have independently launched digital hazards mapping initiatives.
In some cases these are helping to identify flood risks, landslides, and earthquake
zones among other “geohazards” within county jurisdictions. Although some have
been assisted with FEMA grants, which require state funding matches, other states
have funded projects entirely on their own. North Carolina’s success is often
presented as a model state for its accomplishments. Prompted by the disaster left in
the wake of Hurricane Floyd in 1999, North Carolina began compiling digital spatial
data and producing maps at geographic scales that are also important for DFIRM
development and for future revisions (updates). However, it is not alone.41 Many
state mapping programs now operate with an “open GIS” policy for data and map
sharing. Access to state-collected and compiled spatial data, and digital hazard maps
produced from them, is virtually free or available at minimal cost of reproduction.
FEMA program managers have recognized that partnerships with accomplished
state digital mapping programs could reduce the costs of implementing the FMMI in
the long run, because of unrestricted access to and use of local data and maps to
produce new DFIRMs or revise them in the future. One possible outcome could be
an opportunity for FEMA to have reciprocal arrangements with states providing
digital data and maps for DIRMs, whereby the agency would help those states to
offset costs of other nationally important natural hazard risk assessment map projects,
such as for identifying seismic hazards, landslides, and coastal-zone flooding.
Alternatively, FEMA might “repay”states in-kind by providing disaster response
training for local emergency management officials and first responders, and
preparedness and safety training for the public within the local community.
Washington State, South Carolina, et al.
FEMA Community Outreach
Other types of assistance FEMA provides are Hazard Mitigation Program Grants
(HMPGs) and Flood Mitigation Assistance Grants (FMAGs). These are for postflood disaster repairs and retrofits, such as elevating or reinforcing structures. Inkind services are provided through the Cooperating Technical Communities (CTC)
partnerships developed under Project Impact.42 With respect to HMPGs and FMAGs,
FEMA’s role has been to work directly with state, tribal, and local emergency
managers through CTCs to (1) develop mitigation strategies to minimize potential
flood hazards; (2) educate and prepare local citizens for flood emergencies; (3) assist
communities in assessing post-flood damage; and (4) help restore “critical” services
(medical, fire, police, etc.) soon after a flood disaster.43
In FY2002, President Bush requested and Congress established the Pre-Disaster
Mitigation Grant (PDMG) program managed by FEMA under the Emergency
Preparedness and Response Directorate (EPRD) of DHS.44 Since FY2003, The Flood
Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) has extended flood disaster
mitigation (FDM) grants through the “Community Assistance Program: State Support
Services Element (CAP-SSE)” that was created to encourage greater participation of
flood-prone communities in the NFIP.45 Another form of FEMA assistance to local
communities has been the Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPGs)
authorized by the Stafford Act. EMPGs are extended to improve the infrastructure
and administration of local emergency response, but can also be used by local
government officials to implement disaster mitigative processes ( e.g., promulgating
regulations requiring standardized building codes, or funding studies to minimize
flood hazards as part of local or regional emergency planning).46
A final progress report, released in May 2001, focused on the Cooperating Technical
Partners (CTP) initiative with respect to strengthening and coordinating federal-stateregional-local government and private sector partnerships for FMMI. It also reviewed work
of the TMAC established to advise FEMA about the future of flood map programs. See
National Research Council, Spatial Data Needs: The Future of the [USGS] National
Mapping Program (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1990).
See 42 U.S.C.§4101 et seq, “Chapter 50, Subchapter III, Coordination of Flood Insurance
with Land Management Programs in Flood Prone Areas.” This section of the Code
authorized FEMA to enter into disaster mitigation partnerships, after Project Impact was
terminated in FY2001, for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program created by Title II
of the Stafford Act. PDM grants, issued en bloc to state governments, were funded at $25
million beginning in FY2002.
U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies
Appropriations, 2003, report to accompany H.R. 5605, 107th Cong., 2nd sess. H.Rept. 107740 (Washington: GPO, 2002), pp. 133-134.
Originally published in Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, June 2002. “83.105 ...
American Rivers, Floodplain protection toolkit — resource materials, “PDM initiatives
include relocating people out of flood-prone areas, promoting restrictions on floodplain
development, and restoring riverine habitat, and modernizing flood maps.” Archived at
Commercial Ventures and Federal Contracting
Organizations representing corporate and small mapping enterprises have
testified before Congress about private sector capabilities to perform land surveys,
aerial photography, and flood map determination services, which many of them have
been doing for local community governments as Cooperating Technical Partners
(CTPs). They are eager for business generated from FEMA’s nationwide
implementation of FMMI.47 Some of these already perform such work under contract
to FEMA, and foresee a groundswell of opportunities that a multi-year stream of
federal funding for flood map modernization could generate.48
Other private enterprises likewise have business interest in the FMMI, including
vendors of digital mapping technologies, such as geographic information systems
(GIS), digital surveying equipment, and hand-held GPS locating devices. Some
provide services such as aerial photography. Still others specialize in digital map
conversion or market industrial size optical scanners which can almost instantly
convert large paper maps to digital map files. Aerospace industries market high-end
technology such as LIDAR and IFSAR used for collecting data by remote sensing
data. Businesses with aircraft that serve as platforms for such instruments also stand
to benefit as FEMA moves closer to wholesale remote sensing for environmental and
geophysical digital data collection needs.49
FMMI supporting industries who work under contract to FEMA argue that the
initiative can be a boon for the U.S. economy in many ways, including the following:
returning federal taxpayer investments in flood prevention many
Bryan J. Logan, Photo Science, Inc., for the Management Association for Private
Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), “Opportunities for Management Reforms at NOAA,”
Apr. 24, 1997. Written Testimony prepared for the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of
Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia. MAPPS is a
lobbying group on Capitol Hill. Logan stated that aerial photography, used to produce
topographic, planimetric, and other forms of maps, is a commercial activity and is provided
by some 250 firms in the United States. He added that NOAA, the Corps of Engineers,
Geological Survey, Forest Service, and Federal Highway Administration have active
contracting programs to obtain such services from the private sector.
“FEMA Selects AMEC [p.l.c.] for Flood Studies,” PR Newswire, p.1 (New York: Oct. 10,
2001). “Under the indefinite delivery contract with FEMA, AMEC will perform up to $10
million in services necessary to conduct new and updated flood studies for communities
throughout FEMA Region III ... to update old, inadequate, and often times inaccurate floodhazard maps and to study and map some flood-prone communities for the first time.”
MAPPS is a national association representing firms in the surveying, spatial data and
geographic information systems field in the United States. Its members are engaged in
surveying, photogrammetry, satellite and airborne remote sensing, aerial photography,
hydrography, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS and GIS data collection and
conversion services. MAPPS urges Congress to require that the federal “government
increase contracting out to private firms and reduce agency competition that is less efficient
than the private sector.” See MAPPS website at [http://www.mapps.org/aboutus.htm].
reducing flood disaster relief costs and lower flood insurance
enabling a national clearinghouse of shared digital spatial data
structuring a distributive hazard risk analysis infrastructure within
maintaining currency and classifying local spatial data and mapping
resources for periodic DFIRM revisions.50
DFIRMs production can be complex, costly, and labor intensive if local digital
data or maps needed to produce them are not available. These electronic maps
compile diverse spatial data — digital and otherwise — from many different sources.
The maps used to develop DFIRMs can be generated at different geographic scales
(e.g., local community, county, incorporated city limits, or watersheds) and be
compiled for user-specific purposes. Map objects (e.g., buildings, highways, canals,
dams, and levees) need be assigned precise geographic coordinates for flood
insurance purposes. As a result, disparate geospatial data and maps need to be
reconciled and normalized or, according to professional cartographers (map makers),
be “registered” with the map scales used by USGS-certified digital maps. Although
registering a map requires cartographic expertise, the time consuming, simple manual
digitizing (tracing) of the “footprint” and boundaries of maps objects on paper flood
maps can be performed by a qualified mapping technician. Even so, a USGS
mapping expert would likely have to certify the digitized end product, possibly
requiring further “massaging” by cartographers.
FEMA has hired Mapping Coordination Contractors (MCCs) to register digital
images, integrate diverse digital spatial data, and also digitize line maps to ultimately
produce a DFIRM. The “layering” of a series of data standardized by the USGS
creates a “framework” upon which all map objects will be depicted at the same
geographic scale.51 The base map used is a USGS visual map called a Digital Ortho
Quad (DOQ), which depicts earth surface areas of 7.5o x 7.5o. Other products of
differing resolution and scale that require registration include local line maps and
low-altitude aerial photography.
In the spring of 2002, FEMA established a Map Needs Assessment Team
(MNAT), which it also chairs. MNAT found that FHSs were still required for about
2,700 previously unmapped flood-prone communities.52 The assessment teams’
For description of available analytical tools for flood disaster planning, see “Flood Hazard
Mapping: Software,” at [http://www.fema.gov/fhm/frm_soft.shtm].
For more information about the role of MCCs, see Joshua Price and Tom Schweizer, P.E,
“Before the Deluge: FEMA, Floodplains, and GIS,” Geospatial Solutions, Oct. 2002,
Section 575 of 1994 NFIPRA (P.L. 103-325) required a “Mapping Needs Assessment
ongoing responsibility has been to schedule and plan for routine five year updates
of DFIRMs. The five-year cycle has actually been required since the 1963 NFIPA
was amended in 1994 by the NFIPRA.53 On October 4, 2005, at a briefing of the
Senate Banking Committee on the National Flood Insurance Program, committee
staff present expressed concerns that FEMA has not been able to keep pace with
legislatively-mandated five year updates for flood maps. Specifically, their concerns
were about recent flooding in Gulf of Mexico states in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina, and whether more timely updates might have prevented some flood losses.
FEMA has acknowledged that it does not have the manpower to meet all flood map
revision requirements. Instead, it will prioritize is resources for updating maps for
post-flood emergency updates, areas of potential flood risk losses, and facilitating
the FHS process in previously unmapped areas. (See “Multi-Year Flood Hazard
Reorganization of FEMA
and Possible Changes to the FMMI
FEMA was originally established by President Carter’s Reorganization Plan No.
4 of 1978 as an independent federal agency. Since March 2003, however, it has
operated under the management of the DHS Emergency Preparedness and Response
Directorate. FEMA’s mission is to provide a coordinated federal response and
recovery operation for disasters occurring in the United States. This includes
coordinating disaster response with other federal agencies and state and tribal
government and issuing federal disaster relief payments and recovery services to
victims of Presidentially declared disasters.54
In 1979 FEMA assumed management of the National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP) and the associated flood hazard mapping program. In addition, FEMA
monitors, compiles, and acts on disaster-related information contributed by other
federal agencies such as seismic alerts from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and
severe weather warning and tsunami detection from the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). FEMA’s other responsibilities have included
maintaining liaison with state, tribal, and local and international government
Process (MNAP)” to document all map update needs nationally on a five-year cycle and to
develop cost estimates (including for engineering, mapping, production printing, and
distribution costs). MNAP was conceived by the MNAT and is supported by an automated
Map Needs Update Support System (MNUSS) for scheduling DFIRM updates.
42 U.S.C. §4101(e) Identification of flood-prone areas, Review of flood maps: Once
during each five-year period (the first such period beginning on Sept. 23, 1994) or more
often as the Director determines necessary, the Director shall assess the need to revise and
update all floodplain areas and flood risk zones identified, delineated, or established under
this section, based on an analysis of all natural hazards affecting flood risks.
See 95th Cong., 2nd sess., 1978 USCCAN: 9808. For further information about FEMA’s
present federal role, see CRS Report RL33064, Organization and Mission of the Emergency
Preparedness and Response Directorate: Issues and Options for the 109th Congress, by
emergency management officials, exchanging information, and alerting them of
imminent or potential disasters. FEMA works with the media for emergency
warnings. It coordinates federal emergency response and evacuation at the behest of
affected states by supporting regional and local government authorities. Is also
performs post-disaster risk assessment providing input for future building code
FEMA’s functions have expanded over time. Beginning in 1994, under the
Clinton Administration, the agency was authorized to assist various communities
with mitigating hazards associated with natural disasters (pre-disaster mitigation),
either by extending federal grants to states and tribal governments or by funding to
at-risk populations directly.55 FEMA’s flood-related role also grew to include
visibility in the community, where on-site agents work directly with state and local
officials. FEMA fieldwork includes “in-kind” services such as (1) educating
authorities at all levels of national government about disaster response and advising
them in emergency management and planning; (2) training local floodplain managers,
land-use planning agencies, and prospective emergency management personnel about
how to assess local flooding risks and damage in the aftermath; and (3) assisting with
local officials to conduct public education campaigns, such as promoting individual
citizens’ awareness of flood dangers and how to prepare for them.
Criticism of FEMA’s effectiveness catalyzed by two successive damaging
hurricane seasons for the Gulf of Mexico and Florida has prompted Bush
Administration officials and some U.S. lawmakers to considered whether the agency
is properly poised to handle such disasters. If the current status of FEMA were to
change, stakeholders have asked how might the FMMI and FEMA’s flood map
program be affected?
Department of Homeland Security Reorganization. In July 2005, when
Michael Chertoff was confirmed as Director of the DHS, he proposed reorganizing
the agency structure created by his predecessor, Former Governor Tom Ridge of
Pennsylvania.56 Known as the 2SR initiative, Chertoff’s proposal directs FEMA to
report directly to him rather than the head of the Environmental Preparedness and
Response Directorate (EPRD). He continues to support the change of status of
FEMA in keynote addresses given at various meetings he has attended.57 Chertoff has
stated that FEMA would return to focusing on coordinated national response to
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121
et seq., See CRS Report RL33053, Federal Stafford Act Disaster Assistance: Presidential
Declarations, Eligible Activities, and Funding, by Keith Bea.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Secretary Michael Chertoff, U.S. Department
of Homeland Security Second Stage Review Remarks,” Ronald Reagan Building,
Washington, DC (July 13, 2005), pp. 1-2, available at [http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/
“Remarks by Secretary Michael Chertoff, U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the
Association Fire Chiefs Leaders Summit, Washington, DC, Nov. 4, 2005,” available at
[http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=44&content=4926&print=true]. “First we
must re-tool FEMA and enhance this vital agency’s capabilities ... supporting response and
disasters, natural or human-induced, provide disaster relief payments and recovery
services for individuals, and assist economic recovery in disaster affected areas.58
In that event, FEMA would no longer head pre-disaster mitigation efforts and
assistance.59 The 2SR plan was released prior to Hurricane Katrina striking the
northern Gulf coast on August 29, 2005. Widespread criticism of FEMA’s response
to that disaster resulted in a change of leadership at the top of the EPRD.60 Public
criticism had also been leveled at emergency preparedness and responses to the
hurricane of some state and local officials.61
Options and Alternatives Proposed for FEMA. Under the 2SR Initiative
FEMA is to divest its disaster prevention and mitigation functions, which Director
Chertoff now views as a separate mission. Its long-term partners are now
questioning the fate of the Flood Map Modernization Initiative. Negative feedback
about FEMA’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita has prompted some Bush
Administration officials to propose dismantling FEMA entirely. They favor
introducing different options for the U.S. government for conducting national
emergency management operations. For example, some Department of Defense
officials are advocating a coordinated national emergency management response led
by the U.S. military.62 Others have suggested that FEMA return to being an
independent agency with cabinet-level status as it stood prior to its transfer to DHS.63
However, critics of the deconstruction of FEMA, or establishing it as an independent
agency, assert that close collaboration and communication between FEMA and the
DHS for reasons of national security purposes is vital. They prefer existing synergies
at DHS that meld natural disaster and terrorism response activities, which Director
Chertoff’s plan would foster.
Ibid. “[W]e intend to integrate the Departments existing preparedness efforts ... into a
single directorate for Preparedness.”
Ibid. “FEMA will become a direct report to the Secretary [of DHS], allowing it to focus
on response and recovery....
U.S. Government Accountancy Office, Preliminary Observations on Hurricane Response
to Hurricane Katrina, Statement of Comptroller General David M. Walker, GAO Report,
GAO-06-365R (Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2006).
Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, “Rebuilding Louisiana,” speech delivered Sept. 14,
2005. “We all know that there were failures at every level of government: state, federal and
At the state level, we must take a careful look at what went wrong and make sure it never
happens again. The buck stops here. And, as your governor, I take full responsibility.” See
Office of the Press Secretary, “Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan Aboard Air Force One
En Route Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, Sept. 25, 2005. Available at
Office of Senator Hillary Clinton, “Clinton Unveils Legislation to Restore FEMA to
Independent Status: And Launch Katrina Commission to Investigate Hurricane Recovery
Efforts,” Press Release, September 6, 2005. “The legislation will ... restore FEMA to
cabinet-level ... the FEMA director would report directly to the President.” available at
[http://www.dlc.org/print.cfm?contentid=253525] accessed Jan. 27, 2006.
National Flood Mapping-Related Issues. A core concern for the FMMI
if FEMA’s status as an agency were to change is the mutual dependency of the flood
mapping program and the Flood Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA).
Some argue that FMMI is practically privatized now, given that flood hazard studies
(FHSs), flood hazard determination validation, and some flood map modernization
management responsibilities are wholly managed by private contractors. Some in the
Bush Administration have suggested that production and distribution of flood maps
be transferred to the USGS or another federal mapping agency. Nevertheless, that
would still require coordination with FIMA or its equivalent entity if FEMA were to
be disestablished. Federal flood insurance rates would still have to be determined
based on flood risk with the flood map as the critical tool of determination.
Decentralizing the flood map program or transferring it wholesale to another
federal mapping agency could diminish the flood map program’s profile due to
established mapping responsibilities and priorities of its new host.64 Also, concerns
are that federal discretionary funding for flood mapping programs and the importance
of FMMI implementation could diminish.65 Existing synergies between flood
mapping, flood map modernization, and FIMA operations within FEMA have
prompted many emergency management professionals to question such an action.66
FEMA’s current successes with FMMI and the flood mapping program have resulted
from long-established partnerships within NFIP communities. Concerns are that
CTPs forged over time could be undermined. Finally, some argue that maintaining
the status quo, or continuing FEMA’s management may make sense, because: (1)
operations of the flood map modernization program and DFIRM-related services is
now well-established; (2) there is an associated integral processing infrastructure; and
(3) it maintains a highly rated customer services center, all of which point to
successful administration by the agency.
A popular solution appears to be elevating FEMA, including all of its current
responsibilities and functions (including disaster prevention and mitigation), within
DHS through the establishment of a Natural Hazard Mitigation, Response, and
Recovery Deputy Directorate reporting directly to Director Chertoff. While similar
to 2SR, it would ensure that preparation, mitigation in addition to response, and
Association of State Flood Plain Managers, Inc., “Testimony,” Oct. 18, 2005.
U.S. Congress, House Committee on Government Reform, The Homeland Security
Department’s Plan To Consolidate and Co-locate Regional and Field Offices: Improving
Communication and Coordination, Joint Hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy Policy,
Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs, and the Subcommittee on National Security,
Emerging Threats and International Relations, March 24, 2004 (Serial No. 108 — 168,
Washington, DC, GPO, 2004). Testimony of James Lee Witt, former Director of FEMA,
pp. 92-94, “I want you to know that I and many others in the emergency management
community across the country are deeply concerned about the direction FEMA is headed.
First, we are greatly concerned that the successful partnership that was built between
local/state/federal partners and their ability to communicate, coordinate, train, prepare, and
respond has been sharply eroded.” He continued, “I felt that many of the pieces in place to
manage the consequences of a disaster or terrorist attack were not broken and didn’t need
“fixing.” I saw no need to reinvent the wheel....”
recovery functions of FEMA remain intact. Proponents of this approach argue that
FEMA would assume a higher profile within DHS, while maintaining traditional
long-standing agency culture and partnerships developed between state, tribal, and
local government officials and the private sector. From their perspective, instead of
becoming an independent agency, FEMA would be in a position to share resources
and expertise with other directorates of DHS that deal more closely with terrorismrelated disasters.67
The development of FEMA’s digital flood maps, or DFIRMs, continues under
the Flood Map Modernization Initiative (FMMI), although some critics might
contend that implementation has not been timely or uniform. FEMA was authorized
by Congress to build an inventory of more than 100,000 digital flood hazard maps.
Completion of digital conversion is now expected by the end of 2008.68 President
Bush wants to make most, if not all, of these digital flood hazard maps available on
the Internet, so commercial uses of DFIRMs might help to recoup some of the costs
FMMI stakeholders, which include state, tribal, and local government officials,
flood plain managers, land-use planners and developers, and mapping professionals
generally concur with FEMA’s position that a wholesale conversion of paper flood
maps to DFIRMs may in the long-run reduce costs of flood insurance coverage for
the federal government. They foresee a reduction of flood insurance claims
throughout the nation because of production and easy updating of digital flood maps.
FEMA flood mapping partners working through Community Technical Partnerships
(CTPs), and who many are also stakeholders, attribute possible future savings to the
federal flood insurance program because of three technological developments, which
FEMA now routinely employs to identify and designate flood hazard risk areas on
DFIRMs. These include (1) automated tools for geographical and environmental
analysis; (2) more precisely calibrated digital data collected by ground and spacebased remote sensing instrumentation; and (3) more accurate metric spatial data
measurements. All of these, they say, will complement the process of setting federal
flood insurance premiums in the near-future, perhaps as soon as the next five years.69
Shortly after the FMMI was launched, FEMA encountered economic barriers
in implementing FMMI, because of unmet expectations in leveraging program costs
with non-federal entities. Initially, many economically challenged communities
protested that the FMMI would result in financial hardships locally. Economically
challenged and advantaged communities alike are concerned about the results of
digital map conversion, and whether the new DFIRMs could mean higher premiums.
Local officials anticipated cases where some citizens or entire communities might
Association of State Flood Plain Managers, 2005.
Appropriations of $150 million for FMMI were authorized in FY2003, one fiscal year
later than anticipated.
Association of State Flood Plain Managers, Inc., “Testimony,” Oct. 18, 2005.
become ineligible for federal flood insurance based on a private structure’s
“footprint” such as a home, barn, or other structure redrawn on a DFIRM.
By May 2001, FEMA recognized it would have to finance most of the activities
necessary to complete the FMMI. As it stands, FEMA has offered matching grants
to states and tribal governments to encourage digital mapping programs undertaken
independently of the federal government contingent upon at least a 20% match of
funding. Non-reimbursable grants have been provided directly to some economically
challenged local communities in hopes of jump starting FMMI through the creation
of new NFIP communities and new CTPs. FEMA officials consider these types of
federal assistance tools for sharing FMMI’s cost in the long-run. They say that by
providing incentives for greater participation of all levels of government in the
FMMI, the federal government’s payoff will be gaining access to local digital data
and information and cooperation from local partners, a situation that is necessary for
keeping DFIRMs as current as possible.70
Most observers of emergency management believe that achieving the goals of
the FMMI will depend upon expanding and reinvigorating Cooperating Technical
Partnerships. However, because of uncertainty surrounding FEMA’s fate as a federal
agency, including whether it will remain within the DHS and continue its same
function; be reestablished as an independent agency; have its component programs
divested and reassigned to other federal agencies; or cease to exist — some are
concerned that implementation of FMMI could be threatened. There are concerns
that state, tribal, and local governments might retreat from contributing to a robust
sustained federal digital flood map program. FEMA states that the effectiveness of
the recently introduced Multi-Year Flood Hazard Identification Plan (MHIP) that
schedules future flood map updates is premised on balancing critical priorities.71
These include updating out-of-date flood maps, performing FHSs in unmapped areas
in immediate danger of flooding, and ensuring that FMMI resources are distributed
equitably among present and potential NFIP communities.
Completion of the FMMI, meaning the digital conversion of the entire inventory
of FEMA flood maps seemingly is linked to retaining momentum regardless of
whether the program emerges in FEMA, or whatever other entity that might
administer it in the future. Proponents of the mapping program maintain that it will
lead to cost savings for the federal flood insurance program in the future. In any
event, most observers assert that effective management of FMMI will require
continued collaboration and coordination within DHS and with its local stakeholders.
It should be noted that wholesale digital map conversion and meeting the
required five-year cycle for updating DFIRMs are separate goals for FEMA.
Although digital conversion of older paper flood maps is now anticipated to be
completed by 2008, the process of DFIRM revision (updates) will be ongoing and
requires long-term collaboration with state, tribal, and local government authorities
and private sector partnerships to obtain the necessary digital contributions. For
FEMA, Cooperating Technical Partners (CTP), “Flood Hazard Mapping: Why the CTP
is Important,” at [http://floodmaps.fema.gov/fhm/ctp_main.shtm].
MHIP, Nov. 2004.
FEMA (or whatever entity might administer the flood insurance map program in the
future), the need to perform flood hazard studies and revise DFIRMs in a timely
manner will be critical, especially as new flood hazard risks in potentially floodprone areas across the nation are discovered, and after flood disasters occur.
FEMA’s goal is to provide communities at risk for flooding adequate and equitable
federal flood insurance coverage.
Base Flood Elevation
Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act of 1999
Coastal Flood Hazard Area (Zone “V” on D/FIRMs)
Cooperating Technical Community with FEMA
Cooperative Technical Partner of FMMI
Digital Elevation (contour) Model
Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map
Department of Homeland Security
Disaster Relief Fund (FIMA)
Environmental Protection Agency
Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of DHS
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Geographic Data Committee (USGS)
Flood Hazard Study
Federal Insurance Administration (now FIMA)
Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA)
Flood Insurance Study-now Flood Hazard Study (now FHS)
Flood Map Modernization Fund (FIMA)
Flood Map Modernization Initiative
Geographic Information Systems
Global Positioning System (satellites)
Interferomic Satellite Aperture Radar
LIght Detection and Ranging Radar
Multi-Year [flood] Hazard Identification Plan
Mapping Needs Assessment Team/Process
Map Needs Update Support System
National Mapping Division (USGS)
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Flood Insurance Fund (FIMA)
National Flood Insurance Program
National Flood Insurance Program Act of 1968
National Flood Insurance Program Reform Act of 1994
National Imaging and Mapping Agency (DOD)
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (DOC)
National Security Agency (White House)
Special Flood Hazard Area (“Zone A,” the 100-year flood plain)
Technical Mapping Assessment Council
U.S. Geological Survey (DOI)
Glossary of Flood Hazard Mapping Terms
Definitions extracted, in part, from Federal Emergency Management Agency,
Guide to Flood Maps: How to Use a Flood Map to Determine Flood Risk for a
Property, FEMA Report 258 (Washington, D.C., May 1988.)
The flood having a 1% probability of being equaled or exceeded in any given year;
also referred to as the 100-year flood.
Base Flood Elevation (BFE)
The height of the base (100-year) flood in relationship to a specified datum, either the
National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929 or North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
Coastal Flood Hazard Area (CFHA)
An area of special flood hazards extending from offshore to the inland limit of a
primary frontal dune along an open coast, and any other area subject to storm surge and high
velocity wave action from storms or seismic sources, which FEMA designates as “Zone V”
on flood maps. Sometimes called Coastal High Hazard Area.
A flood map, such as a DFIRM, that shows flooding for the entire geographic area of
a county, including incorporated communities.
The latest FIRM (or DFIRM) issued by FEMA, which is in effect as of the date shown
in the title box of the flood map as either “Effective Date,” “Revised ...,” or “Map
Authority of a community to establish land-use zones and issue building permits in areas
outside its corporate limits.
Flood Boundary and Flood Way Map
A flood plain management map issued by FEMA that shows, based on detailed and
approximate analyses, the boundaries of the 100-year and 500-year flood plains and the 100year regulatory flood way. (See FHBM.)
Flood Hazard Area/Flood Plain/Flood-Prone Area
Land subject to inundation by water from any flooding source.
Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM)
Initial flood insurance map issued by FEMA that identifies approximate areas of 100-year
flood hazards in a community after a flood emergency.
Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)
Insurance and flood plain management map issued by FEMA that identifies areas of 100year flood hazard in a community. In some areas, the map also shows base flood elevations,
500-year flood plain boundaries and, regulatory flood way boundaries. These maps are
referred to as FIRMs, or simply flood maps, by people who work with them frequently.
FEMA’s current electronic digital data version of the maps is known as a DFIRM.
Flood Insurance Study (FIS)/Flood Hazard Study (FHS)
Engineering study performed by FIMA to identify flood hazard areas, flood insurance risk
zones, and to collect other flood data in a community. The Flood Hazard Study (FHS) has
become the accepted terminology among professionals.
Flood Plain Management
The operation of a program of corrective and preventive measures for mitigating flood
damage, including, but not limited to, emergency preparedness plans, flood-control works,
and flood plain management regulations.
Flood Plain Management Regulations
(Land-use) zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, building codes, special-purpose
ordinances, and other applications of enforcement for mitigation of flood damage.
The community’s office that stores copies of the Flood Map and Flood Insurance Study
report, now the Flood Hazard Study (FHS), and makes them available for review.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Federal program to identify flood-prone areas nationwide and make flood insurance
available to the owners and lessees of structures on a property in communities that
voluntarily participate in the program. Communities may participate in NFIP by adopting
and enforcing flood plain management standards consistent with FIMA.
National Geodetic Vertical Datum 1929, North American Vertical Datum 1988
Standard reference planes from which elevations from sea-level are measured. These were
established 1929, and updated in 1988 by the federal government. The latter is used by
USGS in digital elevation models (DEM) which delineate topographical contours on land
The area defined as the channel of a stream and the adjacent land areas reserved to discharge
a 100-year flood without cumulatively increasing the elevation of the 100-year flood more
than a designated height (usually, 2-3 feet above BFE).
Riverine Flood Hazard Area
Area subject to inundation by flooding of rivers, streams, and creeks.
Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)
Land area that is subject to inundation by a flood that has a 1% or greater probability of
being equal to or exceeding the base, or 100-year, flood during any given year.
Undeveloped Coastal Barrier
An area, adjacent to the Atlantic, Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, or the Great Lakes, where
federal flood insurance would not be available for substantially improved older structures
or new construction. These areas are designated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
mapped by USGS, and protected by the Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act of
1999 (CBRRA) to discourage development in an attempt to preserve dunes, beaches, and
Water Surface Elevation
The height in relation to a national vertical datum (or other local datum where specified) of
floods of various magnitudes and frequencies in flood hazard areas. In riparian areas it is
also known as the river stage. WSE is also the measurement of the maximum height of the
flood above the BFE for a given flood at a given site.
This appendix summarizes the budget history of the Flood Map Modernization
Initiative (FMMI). It provides background on how the program was created by
Congress and how funding was originally authorized. It further tracks the President’s
annual budget and congressional appropriations action from FY2003 through
Early Spending Authorization for Flood Map Modernization
In 1994, a National Flood Insurance Fund (NFIF) was established by Congress
in the National Flood Insurance Program Reform Act (NFIPA, U.S.C. 42 §5000 et
seq.) as a portion of total emergency monies available in FEMA’s Disaster Relief
Fund (DRF). Administered by the Flood Mitigation and Insurance Administration
(FIMA) monies from the NFIF were made available for updating flood maps after a
presidentially declared flood disaster emergency.72 The NFIF covered costs of (1)
developing a preliminary flood hazard map (PFIRM), or crude flood boundary map,
so that federal emergency flood insurance coverage could be extended temporarily;
and (2) initiating a FHS to assess the potential for a future significant flood hazard
risk in the effected community. These were also the first steps in the FEMA process
for acceptance in the NFIP, setting federal flood insurance rates, and extending
permanent coverage once a FIRM was produced.73
In FY2003, President Bush requested that additional spending for FEMA of $50
million be authorized to produce digitally updated (or modernized) flood maps
(DFIRMs) after a presidentially declared disaster. Also, President Bush proposed
that spending authority be offset by a Flood Policy Fee (FPF) imposed on commercial
uses of flood maps by mortgage lenders. However, Congress did not approve the
FPF. Also, it has not authorized emergency funding for non-emergency flood
mapping uses since FY2002. Instead, in FY2003, it chose to appropriate funding for
federal emergency and non-emergency flood map activities through the FMMF.
Establishment of the Flood Map Modernization Fund. In FY2000,
Congress established the Flood Map Modernization Fund (FMMF) in the Department
of Veterans Administration, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent
Agencies Appropriations Act (VA, HUD, and Independent Agency Appropriations).
Emergency monies could be transferred from the DRF to the FMMF, which was
created to pay for expeditious digital flood map revisions needed after a
presidentially declared flood emergency, through the NFIF. In addition, Congress
authorized FEMA limited spending authority through use of income derived from
commercial flood map services for non-emergency, risk-aversive studies as a prelude
These funds are authorized by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency
Assistance Act, P.L. 106-390. (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.)
As authorized by the 1968 NFIPA (42 U.S.C. §1360(f)(2)). See, U.S. Congress. House,
Makings Appropriations for VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies, Fiscal Year 2000,
conference report to accompany H.R. 2684, H.Rept. 106-379, Oct.13, 1999, p. 42.
to developing digital flood maps for unmapped, risk-prone communities.74 Although
it appropriated $5 million initially to establish the FMMF in FY2000, no further
appropriation for FMMI activities was forthcoming until FY2003.75
Table 3. Spending Authority and Appropriations
History for FMMI
Source: Compiled by CRS from House Appropriations Committee, Senate Appropriations
Committee, and conference committees’ authorizations through FY2002. Request figures are from
FEMA budget justifications through FY2002. Congressional funding was found in annual VA, HUD,
and Independent Appropriations through FY2004. Amounts requested for FMMI for FY2004 through
FY2006 are taken from the DHS-EPRD budget justification. After FY2003, congressional funding
for FMMI is found in annual DHS appropriations.
Abbreviations: T=type; n/e=non-emergency funds; e=emergency spending authority.
Notes: The $5 million listed under FY2000 is a one-time appropriation to establish the FMMF. Final
amounts may reflect appropriation rescissions, except for FY2006, pending approval of OMB of a 1%
rescission on all federal discretionary spending.
Table 3, above, shows (1) the President’s request for the FMMF/FMMI; (2)
Congress’s spending authority for emergency and non-emergency flood map
production and updates passed through to the FMMI for FY2000; (3) other
congressional spending authority for the FMMF from FY2001 through 2002; and (4)
See “ Federal Emergency Management Agency, Fee Schedule for Processing Requests for
Map Changes, for Flood Insurance Study Backup Data, and for National Flood Insurance
Map and Insurance Products,” Federal Register, Aug. 1, 2002: 49922-49925.
Non-emergency federal grants are provided through some state institutions to cities,
towns, villages, and Metropolitan Sewerage Districts that want to become NFIP participants
and are in imminent danger from flooding. Grants are used for conducting Flood Hazard
Studies (FHS) and developing preliminary flood insurance rate maps.
congressional appropriations for FMMI which began in FY2003. The time line
which follows briefly summarizes early presidential requests for FMMI and for
spending authority through FY2002. This is followed by a brief summary of
presidential requests and appropriations for FMMI from FY2003 through FY2006.
FY2000. In his FY2000 budget, former President Clinton requested $5 million
and congressional approval to establish a “Flood Map Modernization Fund” to
support a “National Flood Map Modernization Program,” which initially would pay
for developing digital flood maps (DFIRMs) after presidentially declared flood
disasters. (See Table 3.) As the means for conducting a nonemergency flood hazard
mapping program, former Director of FEMA, James Lee Witt, testified before
Congress that “Increased budget authority [of $58 million] could be offset with a $15
Flood Policy Fee imposed on all federally regulated mortgages issued during
On August 3, 1999, The House Appropriations Committee reported out H.R.
2684, the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act of 2000 (H.Rept.
106-286) which recommended establishing a flood map modernization program with
an appropriation of $5,000,000, but noted that “on-going operation of the fund will
require additional funding,” and that “FEMA is encouraged to propose mechanisms
other than the fee on federally regulated mortgages in order to fully finance this
program.”77 Also, the House authorized FEMA to accept financial contributions or
services on behalf of the program from states and local FMMI partners.
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S. 1596 (S.Rept. 106-161,
September 16, 1999), its version of the FY2000 VA, HUD, and Independent
Agencies funding bill. In that report, the committee expressed concern about
President Clinton’s flood map modernization goal because “it would commit
Congress to spend $900 million over the life of the program,” from FY2000 through
FY2007. As a consequence, the Senate deferred further action on the appropriation
request of $5 million to establish the FMMF.
The conference committee on H.R. 2684 disapproved the President’s request for
use of the annual Flood Policy Fee (FPF) leveed on all new mortgages to fund the
flood map modernization program (H.Rept. 106-379, October 20, 1999). In lieu, it
would transfer $15 million from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) for emergency
“flood map modernization activities in areas impacted by presidentially declared
disasters.”78 Congress passed H.R. 2684, authorizing a $5 million appropriation for
U.S. Congress, House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent
Agencies Appropriations for 2000, “Testimony of former Director of FEMA, James Lee
Witt,” hearings (Washington, D.C., Mar. 2, 1999). “Right now we spend $59 million a year
out of the flood insurance policy holder fees to try and maintain flood maps, to re map as
much as we can, and particularly to do new maps that communities have asked for.”
U.S. Congress, House, Committee on the Whole on the State of the Union, VA, HUD, and
Independent Appropriations Bill, 2000, H.Rept. 106-286, Aug. 3, 1999, p. 76.
American Meteorological Society, “FEMA Director Cautions Still Much Work to be Done
to Reduce Hurricane Losses,” AMS Newsletter, May 2001. On Apr. 11, 2001, speaking
FEMA to establish the FMMF for non-emergency flood map modernization
activities. P.L. 106-74 was signed by the President on October 20, 1999. In total,
Congress approved $20 million in spending for all flood map activities for FY2000.
FY2001. President Bush requested total spending authority of $134.4 million
for FEMA to implement the FMMI in his FY2001 budget submission. At least $30
million of that, he stated, would be for “immediate map revisions warranted after
Presidential disaster declarations” to be derived from the DRF. The President stated
further that the balance, or $104.4 million in spending authority, would be “offset by
a $12 Map Determination Fee (MDF) for those who use flood maps professionally.”79
In H.R. 5482, VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations for 2001,
the House Appropriations Committee recommended $30 million be transferred to the
FMMF from the DRF instead (H.Rept. 106-674, June 7, 2000). The committee
reported that “the proposal to replenish the Fund [FMMF] through the establishment
of a flood map license fee has not yet been enacted.” It added that “In recognition of
the need to update flood maps, the Committee recommends using a portion of
disaster relief funding for this purpose, with the expected result being the long term
reduction in losses caused by structures being placed in flood-prone areas.” This
would be the first time Congress authorized use of the DRF for “non-emergency”
flood map-related applications.
The Senate Appropriations Committee had reported out S. 4635 (amended), its
alternative to H.R. 5482 (S.Rept. 106-10, September 13, 2000). The committee had
recommended extending spending authority of $5 million from the DRF for FY2001.
Conferees on H.R. 4635 (amended), the Omnibus Consolidated and Emergency
Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY2001, agreed instead that “up to $15 million
be obligated for flood map modernization activities following disaster declarations”
from the DRF (H.Rept. 106-988, October 18, 2000).80 In total, Congress approved
$32.7 million in spending authority for FMMI for FY2001. It reported that the
balance of spending authority ($17.7 million) would be “offset by the equivalent of
unspent income from sales of FIRMs and fees for flood map services collected
before the National Hurricane Conference in Washington, D.C., FEMA Director, Joe M.
Albaugh stated that “FEMA has received authorization [from Congress] to spend up to $15
million from the Disaster Relief Fund to modernize and update its flood maps nationwide.”
The President noted that flood map income would fund matching grants for states’ and
tribal governments, and be used to support of local digital flood mapping activities.
Since 1997, limited spending authority has been approved for the “Flood Hazard Mapping
Program,” and is derived from a $30 “Flood Policy Fee” (FPF) charged on each flood
insurance policy. Congress also authorized use of $46 million in fees for emergency flood
mapping. In its first year, the FPF accounted for about 95% of all fees collected by the
agency for flood mapping services. Of the remaining 5%, fees were collected for (1)
individual requests for FEMA to overturn a flood hazard determination affecting their
property on a FIRM and (2) from purchases of flood maps.
between 1994 and 1998" and was to be used in FY2001.81 H.R. 4635 (amended) was
signed into law as P.L. 106-377 on October 27, 2000.
FY2002. When he submitted his FY2002 budget, President Bush requested
spending authority for FEMA of $7 million for emergency flood mapping activities.
Also, for the first time appropriations were requested for the FMMI, President Bush
requested $25 million to be used for non-emergency map modernization activities.
The House Appropriations Committee reported out H.R. 2620, the VA, HUD,
and Independent Appropriations Act of 2002 (H.Rept. 107-159, July 17, 2001) and
authorized $15 million in spending for the FMMF to be transferred from the DRF for
emergency flood map activities. The committee stated that “While the atrocious state
of the FEMA flood map data base is well-known, there has been little success in
dealing with the problem over the last three years.” It continued, “Proposals to create
a funding mechanism to finance the process of updating flood maps have been met
with criticism from affected parties or lack of action by the appropriate ... committees
of jurisdiction.” In response, the committee recommended an appropriation of $50
million as a “down payment on a $700 million process to update flood maps.”
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S. 1216, its version of the
VA, HUD and Independent Agencies funding bill for FY2002 (S.Rept. 107-43, July
20, 2001), which stated that “a viable program can be put in place to address the
serious need for flood map modernization.” The committee’s recommendation
included authority to transfer $15,000,000 from the DRF to the FMMF for flood
emergencies and use of up to an additional $7,000,000 from prior year flood
insurance policy fees for flood map modernization activities. The committee urged
FEMA “to consult with other Federal and State entities and authorizing committees
so that a viable program can be put in place to address the serious need for flood map
The conference committee on H.R. 2620 did not recommend appropriations for
the FMMI as requested by the President and proposed by the House and Senate.
Instead, it authorized $25 million for emergency flood mapping activities to be
transferred to the FMMF from the DRF (H.Rept. 107-272, November 8, 2001).
Conferees also authorized FEMA to spend $7 million in fees collected during fiscal
years FY2000 and FY2001 for use of the FMMI in FY2002. In total, Congress
authorized $32 million in spending for flood mapping activities for FY2002. This
was $700,000 less than that authorized for FY2001, but the amount requested by
President Bush who signed H.R. 2620 into law on November 26, 2001 (P.L. 107-73).
U.S. Congress, Senate Subcommittee on VA HUD, and Independent Appropriations,
FY2001, hearing, May 16, 2000, “Testimony of Joe M. Allbaugh, Director of FEMA.”
Allbaugh stated that President Bush requested Congress to authorize FEMA to spend a $30
fee per mortgage transaction imposed on all new properties requiring federal flood insurance
coverage. The Administration estimated $58.5 million in revenue for FMMI would have
been generated; however, that spending authority was not approved in FY2001.
FMMI Budget Requests and Appropriations: FY2003-FY2006
In his FY2003 budget submission, President Bush requested “$300 million for
a five-year investment in FMMI” as part of a federal government-wide initiative to
“implement cost-effective disaster prevention strategies.”82 The President’s budget
projected that fees collected for flood map services over the next five years could
offset about half of the estimated incremental costs of FMMI. (See Table 1.) Acting
upon the Administration’s request, Congress appropriated funding for nonemergency activities of the FMMI for the first time since FY2000, although at half
the amount requested for FY2003.
President’s Request. In justification of his request for $300 million for
FMMI, the President’s FY2003 budget stated that “Focusing flood reduction efforts
on identifying the areas at risk for flooding and steering development away from
those areas can be a less-costly, long-term approach to [flood] mitigation.” He added
that “Modernizing flood maps would be critical to that effort.” The budget reflected
the Bush Administration’s view point about the quality of FEMA flood maps, stating
that many were “out of date and inaccurate.” Accompanying statistics showed that
(1) 63% of those maps were 10 years old, (2) 33% were 15 years or older, and (3) an
estimated 2,700 communities prone to severe flooding were not mapped at all.83 The
President also announced that availability of DFIRMs on FEMA’s website over the
Internet would be expedited. That action, he stated, could help generate revenue for
additional spending authority to offset some costs of FMMI (e.g., fees for
commercial uses of DFIRMS, sales of professional licenses, public downloads of
DFIRMs, sales of hard copies of DFIRMs, and provision of other web-based flood
Congressional Appropriations Actions. The House Appropriation
Committee estimated that if Congress were to approve the President’s request for
FMMI and appropriate $300 million for fiscal years 2003 through 2007, it would
result in an 11-fold annual increase in budget authority for the program, compared
with all flood mapping activities in FY2002. Some Appropriation committee staff
were concerned about whether the President’s $300 million request could be
obligated effectively by FEMA. Also, congressional budget managers concerned
about results-based budgeting as a tool for prioritizing appropriations were concerned
whether the proposed annual funding levels for FMMI could be sustained over the
life of the initiative. At issue were mandatory reporting of performance measures and
program outcomes for FMMI required by the 1993 Government Performance and
Results Act (GPRA). Budget officials suggested that other than tallying the number
Ibid. The President also requested $50 million in spending authority from Stafford Act
disaster relief funds for map modernization projects after declared flooding disasters.
Fiscal Year 2003, Budget of the U.S. Government, p. 316 (Washington, D.C.: GPO,
For a floodmap services fee schedule, see [http://www.fema.gov/fhm/frm_fees.shtm].
of new DFIRM produced or updated annually, FMMI performance and effectiveness
could not be measured or ascertained until after a flood disaster occurred.85
Nonetheless, Congress chose to appropriate funding to FEMA in FY2003 for
FMMI for the first time. FEMA officials and flood mapping partners, including
flood plain management professionals, mapping and cartography professionals, local
governments, insurance industries, and loan guarantors considered dedicated federal
funding for non-emergency flood map activities, accompanied by spending authority
for emergency supplemental spending authority after a Presidentially declared flood
disasters, a positive turning point and impetus for forging ahead with FMMI.
FY2003. The House Appropriations Committee reported H.R. 5605, and
recommended $300 million for FMMI for FY2003, the same as was requested by the
President (H.Rept. 107-740, October 9, 2002). The report noted that the committee
would have recommended a $150 million appropriation for FMMI in FY2002;
however, at that time, “the conference committee [on H.R. 2629] was not able to
endorse the House position because of lack of funding.” H.Rept. 107-740 also noted
that “modernization of flood maps should not sacrifice quality for quantity and
program performance goals should not emphasize short-term quantity over product
quality.” It added that
Community engagement improves the quality of the new maps and
heightens local risk awareness;
Voluntary contributions, either monetary or in-kind is expected so
that the investment of federal dollars is leveraged; and
Cost shares will vary on a case by case basis but a goal of 20% is to
It recommended further that no less than $75,000,000 be obligated for
‘basin-wide’ flood hazard risk analyses to support of the President’s proposal for a
new direction for flood mapping. In addition, up to $45,000,000 of FEMA’s budget
would be earmarked for working partnerships with State, tribal and local government
authorities and the private sector through Cooperating Technical Partnership (CTP)
agreements. In that way, FEMA said that it could use local flood hazard-related
knowledge and capabilities as well as private capital for DFIRM development.
Although the House is usually the legislative body to make discretionary
funding recommendations for federal programs first, on July 25, 2002 the Senate
Appropriations Committee reported out S. 2797 (S.Rept. 107-222), its version of VA,
HUD, and Independent Agency Appropriations for 2003. It recommended $300
million for the FMMI, stating that S. 2797 “will allow FEMA to move forward in
meeting ... flood plain mapping needs.” After voting on the measure, the full Senate
FEMA and all federal agencies are required to comply with the Administration’s and
Congress’ annual results-based management requirements established by the 1993 GPRA.
See, U.S. General Accounting Office, Flood Insurance: Emerging Opportunity to Better
Measure Certain Results of the National Flood Insurance Program, “Statement of JayEtta
Hecker, Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues before the Senate Subcommittee on VA,
HUD, and Independent Agencies,” GAO-01-736T, May 16, 2001 (Washington, DC: 2001).
had approved $200 million for FMMI, $100 million less than the President’s request
and the House appropriation.
On February 13, 2003, conferees on H.J.Res. 2, the Consolidated Appropriations
Act of 2003, reported out H.Rept. 108-10. The act would fund FEMA and, therefore,
FMMI for the last time under VA, HUD, and Independent Appropriations. Congress
appropriated $150,000,000 ($149.3 million after rescission) for the FMMF in support
of FMMI. With respect to defining eligibility for funding, conferees reported that
“for the sake of federal assistance, certain state programs in the process of developing
statewide Geographic Information System [GIS] clearinghouses, and responsible for
collecting and distributing GIS data to various federal, state and local users ... are
consistent with the goals of FEMA’s Flood Map Modernization Program.” On
February 20, 2003, the President signed H.J.Res. 2 into law as P.L. 108-7.
FY2004. On February 6, 2003, President Bush requested $200 million for the
FMMI for FY2004 in VA, HUD and Independent Agency Appropriations. However,
on March 3, 2003, FEMA was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) established on January 24, 2003, by Congress in response to the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC.86
When Congress convened in January 2003, it established House and Senate
appropriations subcommittees for DHS, which eventually assumed jurisdiction over
FEMA and FMMI funding from VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies
appropriations subcommittees. The President’s request for FMMI for FY2004 under
DHS appropriations did not change. In the FY2004 budget justification for the
Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate (EPRD) of DHS, which currently
manages FEMA, the President requested that FEMA undertake a nationwide program
of local topographical and basin-wide flood maps and continue its coastal flood
mapping programs. President Bush stated that “These new types of flood maps
would provide ... the means to assess flood hazard risks from different geographic
perspectives.”87 Also, he indicated that the federal government would seek a 20%
cost-share for flood modernization projects through CTP programs.
The House passed H.R. 2861, VA, HUD and Independent Appropriations for
FY2004 on June 24, 2003 and appropriated $200 million for the FMMI. The House
report (H.Rept. 108-169) noted the value of state and local contributions as an
effective means to leverage the cost of FMMI for the federal government and
encouraged EPRD to continue the practice. It also recommended that FEMA provide
financial assistance to communities imminently in need of flood map revision, and
to fund FHSs and DFIRMs production for “at risk” communities.
For background on the Homeland Security Act of 2002, P.L. 107-296 (116 Stat. 2135 et
seq.), see CRS Report RL32242, Emergency Management Funding for the Department of
Homeland Security: Information and Issues for FY2005, by Keith Bea, Shawn Reese,
Wayne Morrissey, Frank Gottron, and C. Stephen Redhead.
U.S. Budget of the United States, Fiscal Year, 2004, U.S. Office of Management and
Budget (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 2003).
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out S. 1584 (S.Rept. 108-86)
on July 10, 2003, its version of the FY2004 spending bill recommended $200 million
for FMMI. The committee directed further that FEMA “continue the practice of
providing funds to communities, states and regions with a demonstrated commitment
to digitizing and improving the accuracy of area flood maps.” FEMA’s goal to
compile up-to-date flood maps for the Nation within five years was also recognized
by the committee which recommended funding levels requested by the President to
support that goal. It noted that this account would (1) support the functions necessary
to modernize and digitize flood maps used to determine appropriate risk-based
premium rates for NFIP; (2) complete flood hazard determinations required of the
Nation’s lending institutions; and (3) assist in developing appropriate disaster
response plans for Federal, State, and local emergency management personnel.
Although the Senate passed H.R. 2861 by unanimous consent, the measure was not
acted upon further by Congress.
Instead, on September 24, 2003, Congress passed H.R. 2555, Department of
Homeland Security Appropriations, 2004, which provided $200 million for the
FMMF. Henceforth, DHS appropriations would be the account from which all
FMMI-related activities would be funded, emergency or otherwise (H.Rept. 108280, September 23, 2003, p. 50). Conferees on H.R. 2555 authorized FEMA to use
“such additional sums as may be provided by State and local governments or other
political subdivisions for cost-shared mapping activities.” On October 1, 2003, the
President signed H.R. 2555 into law as P.L. 108-90.
FY2005. President Bush requested $200 million for FMMI in his FY2005
budget submission. He stated that an interim goal would be to provide $40 million
in grants through state and local government partnerships as an incentive to “provide
digital GIS flood hazard data to 20 percent of the U.S. population via the internet.”88
The House Appropriations Committee recommended $150 million for FMMF
in H.R. 4567 (H.Rept. 108-541, June 9, 2004). This amount was $50 million less
than the President’s request for FY2005 and $48.8 million less than amounts for
FMMF appropriated in FY2004 (after a 0.38% rescission). The committee
recommended budget reductions based on “excessive unobligated balances” and
directed EPRD to pursue funding for ongoing flood mapping projects at levels
provided for in P.L. 108-7.89 Report language was included limiting administrative
costs of FMMI to three percent of total funding for it for FY2005. The committee
added that appropriations approved for FY2005 remain available until expended.
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported S. 2537 (S.Rept. 108-280, June
17, 2004), its version of DHS funding for FY2005, and recommended $200 million
for FMMI, the same amount as requested by the President. The committee’s report
encouraged FEMA “to continue its practice of providing funds to communities,
States and regions with a demonstrated commitment to digitizing and improving the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Budget in Brief: Fiscal Year 2005, pp. 37-39.
U.S. Congress, House, Making Further Continuing Appropriations for the Fiscal Year
2003, and for Other Purposes, conference report to accompany H.J.Res. 2 H.Rept. 108-10,
Feb. 13, 2003 (Washington: GPO, 20030).
accuracy of area flood maps.” It also urged the EPRD to “consider using available
high resolution elevation models to develop flood hazard data to support flood map
modernization for counties that have experienced flooding disasters.” The committee
noted that “flood map modernization funds should be provided through the most
efficient approach to updating the Nation’s flood maps, and that projects identified
as “high risk” by States ... be funded, when possible, without adversely impacting the
overall goal of completing the flood map modernization project within five years.”
Congress passed H.R. 4567 (amended) and appropriated $200 million for
FMMI, the funding level requested by the President for FY2005 (H.Rept. 108-774,
October 9, 2004). It was signed into law as P.L. 108-334 on October 18, 2004.
FY2006 Request and Appropriations. For FY2006, President Bush
requested $200.7 million for the FMMI. (See Table 1.) The Analytical Perspectives
volume of the President’s FY2006 budget submission stated that “The NFIP ...
operates a flood hazard mapping program to quantify the geographic risk of flooding”
and that, with respect to flood map modernization, “These efforts have made
With passage of H.R. 2360, the House had appropriated $200 million for FMMI,
or $0.68 million less than the President’s request. The House Appropriations
Committee report (H.Rept. 109-79, May 13, 2005) stated that “the Committee
understands that this five-year, $1,000,000,000 program will not update all flood
maps; some maps will merely be converted to a digital format.” It noted further that
it is “concerned that this program was originally portrayed as a means to update all
of the Nation’s flood maps.” At issue was new data and information presented in
FEMA’s Multi-Year Flood Hazard Identification Plan FY04-FY08, Version 1.0,
November 2004 (MHIP) that focused on scheduling of future DFIRM revisions
(updates). The House directed that DHS provide a report no later than January 16,
2006 disclosing the percentage of maps that will actually be updated by the original
target date (the end of 2007). It also directed FEMA to exclude FIRMS that had been
converted to digital format only. Finally, the committee directed DHS to provide the
percentage of total U.S. population that the updated maps would cover with federal
flood insurance within that period. The House also addressed FEMA authority
pertaining to (1) collection of sums from nonfederal cost-shared mapping activities;
(2) limitation of total administrative costs (up to three percent of the FMMF
appropriation); and (3) time limitations on the appropriation.
The Senate Appropriations Committee had also recommended funding of $200
million for FMMI in S. 2537, its version of Homeland Security Appropriations for
FY2004 (S.Rept. 109-83, June 17, 2005). On September 14, 2005, the full Senate
recommended that H.R. 2360 pass as reported by the House.
Conferees on H.R. 2360 approved $200 million for FMMI for FY2006 (H.Rept.
109-241, October 9, 2005), the same amount appropriated by the House and
recommended by the Senate. The conference report encouraged FEMA to “prioritize
Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2006, Analytical Perspectives, p.
104, at [http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2006/pdf/spec.pdf].
as criteria the number of stream and coastal miles within the state, the Mississippi
Delta Region [as a ranking factor for funding distribution], and participation of the
state in leveraging non federal contributions.” In addition, conferees directed FEMA
to “prioritize funding for the program to support those states that integrate the [flood
map modernization] Program with other state programs to enhance greater security
efforts and capabilities in the area of emergency management, transportation, and
planning and disaster response.” Further they recognized the importance of updated
flood maps in state planning as an efficient use of federal dollars (S.Rept. 109-241,