tv Washington This Week CSPAN August 9, 2015 4:50pm-6:01pm EDT
i sat at the table with somebody was my opponent in the workplace. and figured out what they wanted and needed so we could do a deal together. those things i think combined with the things that have shaped me personally, have given me the ability to actually get things done. that is what i hope to bring. host: politics became something of all calling for you became a mayor. rep. macarthur: i've always been interested in public policy and the role of the government. studied history in college, and focused a lot on american social history and political history. and yeah, i ran for local office and actually became a local councilman and a deputy mayor and mayor. i really liked it and felt i was pretty good at it. i have solved some problems that have been unsolvable in a town,
a small town, not small but midsized of 26,000 people. and then when the seat opened up, i decided i had something to offer and ran for office. host: go back to your family for a moment. you and your wife set up a charitable foundation. what motivated that and what do you do with that foundation? rep. macarthur: my wife runs it. i am the secretary and treasurer. she is the leading personal. -- person in that. we started to do well in business. i grew up with a sense that when you have been blessed, you have a responsibility and a joy in helping other people. we are trying to find out what to do with the things we had and
we decided to create this foundation initially to help children. we named it igh charitable foundation. and maybe i will take a moment and tell you about the name. it is telling for how we thought about it. when i first suggested buying my company from its owners at the time, i had the first meeting with them and i was running it already. they owned it. they were interested and i came back. you put your notes into a file and i gave a codename because i do not want to put acquisition of york. i wanted to keep it a secret at that point. i gave it a codename igh. by the time i was done with the acquisition, i had files and it stood for in god's hands. i thought it was so far beyond my ability to buy a company. i did not have the money. i borrowed half of the money from the owners.
we named the foundation that and wanted to focus on kids that were in difficult circumstances that might feel uncared about and wanted to remind them that they are in god's hands, too. at the time, we focused on children and we build a school in africa that lost both parents to aids. and we did work in india for young girls being prostituted very young. their mothers were prostitutes and they are growing up in the red light district and wanted to get them out. we have given away now over 2200 wheelchairs in memory of our daughter grace. as time has gone on, we felt the need to do other things. we did a lot with disaster relief assistance. a lot with wounded warriors. and began to going to other directions. we still do a lot with children.
and it has been a great privilege to be able to see kids getting help, people getting help. host: we are catching you in a couple of days before the end of the session. light legislative day. what is a typical day for you here in the house? rep. macarthur: long. [laughter] there is a mix of official duties like being at hearings or briefings and relationship building, i will spend time with other members. and try to get to know them and them me. getting my mind around the issues i am voting on. and while it is hard to get deeply involved in every issue, i will not vote on an issue without knowing why i am voting the way it is. even a suspension caused the rules have been suspended.
even those, i have a need to understand what i am voting for. i will spend time on that. there are some political responsibilities beyond the official office. we have to leave government property and go do that. there is a lot, a lot to it. host: how is your relation with the speaker boehner and his team? rep. macarthur: it is good. the speaker has been incredible helpful to me. when i was running and since in terms of giving guidance. i have spoken to him on a number of issues and he is been helpful politically and outside of the duties. host: your district is a tossup district. do you think leadership understands the political calculation you have to consider as you prepare for the next round? rep. macarthur: they do and i make sure they understand.
i am a republican for a reason and so i vote in a way that a republican would vote much of the time. there have been key votes where i cannot support my party's interaction and tried very hard to make those known as early as possible. because i just think it is important part of being on the team. host: you say you are republican for a reason. your dad was conservative republican. but your mom was pretty liberal. what about your mom's political views, if you can recall, or your memory of her that you , appreciate or you agree with? rep. macarthur: a few things. my mom had a healthy skepticism about the use of power. because it can corrupt and be abused. and i, i am very careful about the use of power. i was in my business and in this position. my mother believed government
could be a force of good. i think sometimes maybe more so. i think she thinks there are things government should be involved in are things i think are better left to the individual or state or local government. but i certainly appreciate her strong conviction that government can help. and in fact, that is one of the reasons america is a wonderful country it is because of the form of government we have and how it has been implemented. host: if you had to give a grade to the government and hurricane sandy and fema? rep. macarthur: fema did some things that were incredibly helpful to the people in my district. if you have not been there, it is hard to imagine the devastation. houses that floated away.
cars and boats strewn everywhere. roads impassable. gas lines under the road that were bubbled up. it was a mess. fema did help. but there has been great disappointment as well. it is 2.5 years later and there was evidence of fraud that came out were engineering companies were mismarking reports so fema could get out of paying the claims. fema knew about that in 2013 and came to light a couple of months ago. that is atrocious. there has been, from my perspective, not enough accountability. for that reason, i called for the director's resignation over some months, because i felt like they had really dropped the ball. i feel like they did a terrible job of helping my constituents understand the programs they were eligible for.
in some cases, small business administration was making loans to individuals. normally they support businesses. they were supporting individuals and they were aggressively offering them, but they never told the people that if they took those, they would be in an eligible -- they would be ineligible for grants, the main kind of grants that allow people to rehabilitate their homes. i got thousands of people now who are ineligible for the grants they need. in fact, i have proposed legislation that would eliminate that. it would make a loan which has to be repaid in a secure not considered a grant which makes you ineligible for other grants. host: as you sit behind your desk, do you sometimes dread the knock on the door by your constituent? rep. macarthur: i never dread it. it is one of the greatest privileges. we have two offices. i hired staff specifically to
focus on serving those constituents. i wanted people able to get to know the federal bureaucracy that had compassion for people that were not get frustrated and have been really proud of what we have done. we have helped veterans and people on social security that have been fighting in some cases for years to get the justice. because we got involved, people get checks for a few thousands. one case where we got somebody a check for $40,000 that had been denied to them. i never dread at that. it is what informs my proposal of legislation. most of the bills i've proposed have come out of interactions with my constituents. host: a couple of fun questions about your office. the broken skateboard on your wall, what is the story?
rep. macarthur: that is my campaign manager who's now my chief of staff in new jersey. he is a skateboarder. maybe i am too old for that. he is an active skateboarder paris he did that. -- it is one of his great passions and he did that for me. host: we saw the photographs of u.s. some of the new jersey , what is thes instrument below that that looks very old? rep. macarthur: everything reminds me of something back home. it is an antique cranberry rake , and reminds me of the farming community about 800 family farms in my district. i have paintings of boating and seascapes and a lot of military things.
i have the only tri-service joint base in my country at -- and the country is in my district. back to the rake and that is how they picked cranberries. today it is a mechanized process. host: tom macarthur, third district of new jersey. a pleasure to speak with you. rep. macarthur: thank you. >> tomorrow, an update on the lord'sstop resistance army, a militant group in central africa and their fugitive leader. the tom lantosby human rights commission. let coverage at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. business chair david bitter of louisiana held a roundtable with officials from fema, the small business administration, the red cross and other agencies, examining disaster relief for small businesses. they talked about loan programs, the role of small businesses in post-disaster relief, and the
thencial 70 -- solvency of flood insurance program. this is about one hour. senator vitter: good morning everyone. welcome. thank you for joining me for this discussion roundtable. about a very important ongoing challenge in relation to disaster recovery. natural disasters are obviously affecting life, property and livelihoods of families and businesses. with this roundtable, i hope to highlight improvements made in disaster recovery efforts in the last decade, discuss what continuing challenges we still face, in the wake of natural disasters, and have a conversation about paths forward for disaster mitigation and response. this is, as you know, the 10th anniversary of hurricane katrina. we are going to acknowledge that. we certainly won't celebrate,
but acknowledged that in a couple of weeks. i want to take the opportunity to remember that tens of thousands of families who were horribly impacted by that natural disaster. ago this month, we all experienced devastating, deadly and costly natural disaster. the most costly and devastating in american history. hurricane katrina caused over 108 -- $108 and billion in damage. the damages from that year caused 50,000 people to be unemployed by the second half of 2009. here we are 10 years later in 2015, still dealing with the impact on top of the other significant disasters we have suffered in the last decade. 2008-2012, with more
hurricanes, there was over $44 billion in damages. on october 29, 2012, superstorm sandy devastated the vast majority of the east coast. 131 people lost their lives, and thetates, including district of columbia, were declared disaster areas. the disaster relief appropriations effort provided a $50.7 billion package of disaster assistance. , exorbitantst amount of money spent, and lasting impact still felt today are all of these events, highlighted here as the foundation for discussing ways to mitigate these losses in the future, and implement strategies for recovery to get our lives back in order as soon as possible following a disaster. i witnessed firsthand after
hurricane katrina, both the enduring strength of our communities, and the devastating failures into many cases of government in delivering recovery assistance. while businesses and communities came together, willing and able to deliver vital relief, too many times they were turned down by bureaucracy within government agencies. immediately following the event, i heard reports of hellish conditions at the superdome. witnessed unacceptably slow response times from fema, long delays in the delivery of the emergency assistance, food, water and necessities, failing evacuation systems, and ineffective federal contracting practices. disaster relief funds either never made it to the hands of those they were intended for, or arrived too late. all of these failures obstructed vital recovery coming out of
katrina, and these are just the immediate failures afterwards. long-term disaster recovery assistance comes from others. ps pa and others whose , long-termity recovery loans you can get vital community and economic resources back on track. after hurricane katrina struck learned the hard way what works and what did not work in this long-term credit gory as well. disaster sincer then, we have learned small businesses need extra help to get back on their feet. that is a very important focus of this discussion. as chair of the senate small business and entrepreneurship as areee, i'm committed, all members, to serving small
businesses across the country and ensuring they are afforded the resources and assistance they need to help them recover as well. a completely separate category, certainly important in the hurricane katrina and rita context is the corps of engineers and disaster recovery thattorm protection in category. i have done quite a bit of work on that, reforming the court process, improving how they respond before and after disasters. that has more been in the context of my work on the environment and public works committee, but certainly that is another very important piece of the equation that we may touch here today. earlier this year with all of these thoughts in mind, and as chair of the small business committee, i passed that
committed as 1470, the rise 2015,disaster act of along with legislation to address needs, protection, and recovery of all businesses in particular. the rise after disaster act reflects a number of things we have learned. i think it will definitely help future disaster victims recover more quickly and with less red tape from the federal government. it provides, long-term recovery loans to small businesses through community banks one disaster assistance is no longer available. agencies toederal utilize local contractors for response and recovery efforts, rather than government contractors from washington dc, and other far-flung areas. i also introduced a last month, the bad -- bipartisan natural ief tax act, providing
tax relief for people who have experienced disasters. including -- hurricane isaac and red river floods. for future disasters, it will allow businesses to create national disaster funds in order to prepare -- prepare for costs including insurance. i hope to focus on some of the improvements that the agencies and organizations have made since these tragic events 10 years ago. to have this discussion, we are really honored by having six great leading participants, and i want to briefly introduce them and i look forward to hearing from all of them. james rivera is the associate administrator for the small business administration's office of disaster assist. during his 25 years, he has led several efforts to improve the
agency's disaster operations after hurricanes katrina, rita and wilma, including development of more efficient loan and processes, computer upgrades, and other initiatives. gerilee bennett his deputy director at the national directorate recovery division at fema. recoveryeen leading planning and exercising initiative since 2003. including overseeing the implementation of national discovery -- recovery framework. she supported disaster assistance through major businesses since the 1990's. is the executive director for nationwide community preparedness and resilience building programs of the american red cross. he joins us with over 25 years some ofience, leading the largest disaster response
and recovery efforts in that organization's history. is director of financial markets and community investment at the u.s. government accountability office, and will significant insight into today's issues having directed substantial bodies of work. andrea is the director of the credit programs group in the audit division in the office of inspector general. she brings years of experience in investigations and oversight to the table. the leader of the small business -- development center. he has this entrepreneurs and
small business owners start and grow businesses, including serving their communities through additional disaster recovery guidance. i look forward to hearing from all of you, and then we will have a discussion coming out of those observations. why don't we start with mr. rivera. james rivera: thank you, chair for inviting us appear and our partners. we have made almost $2 million in loans for about $53 billion since we started in 1953. we are not a first responder, but i'm glad that jerry leads with our partners in the red cross. they do a great job with the need to get on the ground. from our perspective, we have worked diligently since the hurricanes, we have done a lot of process improvements and we continue to learn from every disaster. most recently with sandy, we also continue to learn from that.
take a step back after both we haveand after sandy, now implemented a three-step process to try to simplify the process and make it easier for the survivor to have a good understanding of what we are doing. as we continue to modernize the credit management system, we take advantage of credit scoring opportunities on how we can homeownersividuals, and businesses with higher credit scores and put them through the system faster. we recently updated our standard operating procedure to add back to basics approach. we always look at what works, what does not work, and how we can improve moving forward. i look forward to having the conversation and look forward to any questions you might have. thank you. senator vitter: thank you mr. rivera. thank you very: much for the invitation to be here.
as mr. rivera said, fema is very pleased to be able to anticipate in this roundtable with our so we have been working very closely with to improve our disaster upon that response and recovery since katrina. their ideas in support of many disasters throughout hurricane which hurricane isaac, somewhat got overshadowed, we had already implemented a lot of changes even by then. focus today on some of the improvements we have done in partnership with the interagency members of the national disaster recovery framework. the framework was developed in response to hurricane katrina, the post-katrina emergency reform act called for national fema led the
development that it was really a partnership of interagency partners including nongovernmental partners like the red cross. some of the key elements of the framework are that it promotes partnership, planning for disaster recovery in advance, and the development and establishment of an organizational structure and leadership in advance that focuses on disaster recovery, not just response. one example of this is at the federal level. we have developed the economic recovery support function. is led by the department of commerce, economic development administration, and key partners include sba, the department of treasury, the department of agriculture. fema is also a primary partner. all of these agencies work together to support communities and more portly, businesses, and grow businesses toer devices -- disasters
get support they need together businesses up and running. some of the strategies the economic recovery support function undertakes -- economic assessment post-disaster, what the real needs are, is this a rural disaster or small business kind of disaster, or an urban disaster? is there a major employer in the if that business gets back up and running, will make all the difference in the world getting people moving back into the area? they also work together to make sure there are business recovery centers, usually sponsored by areas that have partners available to find resources available. they sponsor business roundtables and partnership in collaboration with the local chamber of commerce to make sure education, counseling, technical assistance and networking for
resources, and support are available,. after a disaster it is a good opportunity to provide support and information to businesses about resilience. a disaster ourre people as much in june to the need to be resilient, to have insurance, to have good supply that are also resilient. it is a good time to take advantage. roundtables often focus on those topics. i look forward to the conversation, thank you for the invitation. senator vitter: thank you. now we move to russ paulsen. russ paulsen: thank you for inviting the red cross to talk with our partners. i am executive director of community preparedness at the right cost. before this, i had the honor of recovery after hurricanes katrina, wilma, and rita.
after 26 years, i have seen the importance of small businesses after disasters. our goal is to make sure when disaster strikes, people have a warm, safe, and dry place to go with their families, something to eat and somewhere to go to. we do this 70,000 times a year on average. we served over 12,000 meals and snacks in north louisiana. we keep that promise after home fires that have been about every eight minutes every day, every year. because of do this the financial generosity of the american people, and heroic actions of volunteers, americorps members and employees. wilkins, who organized her team to open up shelters throughout south louisiana after katrina came through. not seeing her family for days, a young woman who had never lived away from home before she
came to the new orleans area to memberd cross americorps , who after being there for two weeks, was sent to run a shelter on the north shore. thewho had to deal with needs of all kinds of people, including helping a gentleman who did not have his health aide and needed help with daily living. never had any training. but it is people who step up and do it they need to do. a young man who ran a shelter and had to figure out what to do with the shelter full of scared people when the roof started peeling back. it is heroic actions by ordinary in the response phase, and for people who they will probably never meet again. by chairman, katrina was some measures 10 times bigger than anything the red cross had dealt with. , weerved 68 million meals served clients who had evacuated all 48 of the united states.
before.ever happened that was only possible because of volunteers and employees. we were also able to contribute to the recovery of katrina for several years after the storm, helping people rebuild, funding , and help people access mental health services, which is often not thought about. after it, like katrina, it is more than people can handle. iwant to mention a component think was helpful. we designed it almost like an insurance program where people can make sure they can pay the bills of independent providers, and those providers knowing they had a market, can move back to town. is such a gordian knot after a big disaster. businesses are reluctant to come back without employees and a customer base. residents are reluctant to come back without businesses where they can shop and work. government cannot provide
services without tax base. it is a really tricky proposition and often times, it is the small business that comes back first. and then people come back around it. , there caught all of us are some disasters bigger than any of us. the sbas we worked with and fema, but we learned we have to work not only with traditional partners, but people who normally would not get involved here it now we have faith-based service and other urbanization's who had not worked in disasters before. now we work with catholic charities, islamic relief, lutheran church, methodist church, church of latter day saints, partnerships like the naacp and national council of rossa, center for independent living, and at the local level
to make account. we have put in place technology to help people find shelters, first aid apps. we outnumber firefighters so people need to help each other. apps to help people find relatives. we are working to get ahead of a disaster by going door to door, neighbor to neighbor, installing smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods. fires kill more than anything in the country. also talking about hurricane and tornado preparedness. we have made a lot of progress. still more to go. but it was quite an it didn't. -- an experience. senator vitter: thank you very much for that perspective. william: thank you for the invitation. it is good to be back here with the small business. a very large body
of work looking at the disaster loan program, going back to hurricane katrina. i will just stayed that as it is agoing forward, resource in terms of navigating those reports and testimonies, and the various things we have done. they're all on the homepage. but think of me and us as a resource to help navigate that. what i brought today for the purpose of this introduction, i'm glad to answer any questions about our body of work. i brought highlight pages about testimonies. in may 2010stimony before the committee. it was based on a report that came out july 2009. we were asked to look at how sba made ins had implementing the small disaster business response and in loan
improvement act of 2008. it is a mouthful. we call it the 2008 act. important piece of legislation. it looked at that. it was a good way to look at progress sba had made from the problems that incurred during katrina and rita. it was also what remained to be done. the other thing we did was extensive fieldwork, looking at the response of the 2008 disasters. which were of smaller magnitude than katrina or sandy. it was the midwest floods and hurricane isaac. we did extensive fieldwork. we could see how well sba had done. the response had improved. one data point that i want to provide through the testimony. is,, the other document
last month we testified part -- before house small business on the response to hurricane sandy. it was based on a report issued in september 2014. here, we looked at, obviously a much larger disaster, and looked at the response. we saw certain deficiencies in , and of timeliness deficiencies in terms of ,ollowing through with plans and stated plans to initiate other provisions of the 2008 act. three loanar, programs that would operate through private-sector lenders. i will just close up this statement. and look forward to questions. our report in 2014 on sandy had two recommendations. one was to better account for
the early influx of applications due to greater you -- use about tronic reporting. -- electronic reporting. the other one had to do with , doing a documented evaluation of lender feedback. in particular, the immediate disaster assistance program. of the three programs, that is the one that sba stated it wanted to start first. input,ly evaluate lender and to move forward with the pilot. it is something that goes back a number of years. is important in terms of developing the
capacity, at least testing how well a program of that nature could work. in a future disaster. you for thehank invitation. i look forward to the discussion. senator vitter: thank you very much for that body of work. next we hear from andrea dea dwyler. thank you for the opportunity to be here. i represent a dedicated men and women of the sba oid. we perform audits and inspections and investigations relating to the sba programs and supporting operations. disaster assistance program is a high-risk program, and is the focus of our oversight efforts. our investigations and auditor recommendations are having a positive impact on the integrity of the program. the disaster loan program plays a vital role in the aftermath of disasters by providing long-term
low interest loans to affected businesses and organizations, to assist with rebuilding properties and mitigating economic effects. following katrina, the oig issued several reports assessing loan disbursements, early defaulted loans, use of proceeds and eligibility. hurricanes,lf coast sba has addressed many recommendations and improved rossa sees. most recently, we perform several audits and reviews following hurricanes -- sandy. preventing duplication of benefits with community development grants, sba's compliance with improper payment and recovery act. identified issues with entering controls to withnt duplications community but grants. as a result of the audit, the and improvedies
internal controls. thus when we conducted the audit and 2015, we found the internal controls to prevent duplication of benefits were adequately working as intended. the office did not anticipate the surge of workload which created a backlog of over 20,000 applications. excuse me. there was expedited processes included credit scores and verified incomes. reduced a way to processing time but the exit budded -- but the expedited process did not resort in any savings. tohave identified challenges meet our goals will we get high
application volumes. fact that we need to in crew -- improve significantly our staffing levels as well as the need to mobilize and stave -- train stuff quickly. reported ane spa improper payment rate in its program from 2000 14, which is a significant reduction from the 18.4% reported in the prior year. --believed the improve rate improve rate is due to a number of things. due to aed rate is number of things. this is primarily due to hurricane sandy. they also implemented multilayer reviews at the distribution center to identify and prevent improper payments as well as
performance rating factors for reducing improper payments were included in performance evaluations of all staff. the improper payment rate continues to exceed the 10% rate. hence, we consider this an ongoing challenge. in closing, we acknowledge the challenges that the office of disaster assistance faces in providing loans to disaster prone -- disaster survivors. emphasizentinue to priority inms as a her office. thank you for the opportunity to participate today. sen. vitter: thank you very much, and next is tee rowe. president rowe: thank you very much, chairman, and i appreciate
very much being here. centersican sbdc has nationwide, so when a disaster hits, we are there. we are there because it is our neighborhood, it is our clients, it is our community. in every case, in particular with katrina, we have learned an awful lot. mary wilkinson, who is our past director in the state of an amazing job in disaster recovery and helping people to share best practices and really tear down our effort andoordinate with spa improve the response. i have to say from my personal experience that during katrina, i was the head of congressional affairs at spa, so i was there
in the trenches with james, maybe not as deep in the trenches. but i saw how spa came forward -- my members of the smb sbdc overcame. at every level, people are overwhelmed. dc, we tried to bring to helpmbers together set up the disaster recovery centers, and when you work with these centers, the staff are there, they are usually there, but they are temporary, because they've got to move from place to place. so they are there for about a week, and we are still there at the sbdc, helping the small businesses. that process has gotten so much better.
directorork state can't say enough great things about the work that james has done. a call with our southeast director, so they are kind of the disaster specialists just because of the way that mother nature works. they truly appreciate both the has it that the spa lamented but also the changes in your will. you are trying to remove roadblocks for what we are trying to achieve. for example, for the ability of the sbdc to work across state lines. for example, when the legislation was written, it was just kind of forgotten about in regards to disasters. you have done a great thing in letting us in disaster situations send oaks from across the country to help out.
it is a great improvement in the to that sbdc will be able assist small businesses. like to talk very quickly about something that is very important. while we are there at the disaster center and we are helping people with loan loancations, a business application is a lot more complicated than a home loan application. we are helping them retrieve information and help to put their lives back together. what we have been focused on more and more and we actually have two specialist in florida who work all throughout the gulf region is that recovery seen assts can be resiliency specialists. we work so hard to make sure that the clients all across the recover.re prepared to
without that preparation, you are just that many more steps behind. up, i will just quickly sum , we reallying appreciate section 102 of your bill, the additional reward to the spa -- to the sbdc. how helpfulsandy that additional funding was, because even several years after, we are still doing recovery work. be able to to us to provide that long-term assistance in our recovery situation. with that, i will finish up, and thank you so much. sen. vitter: great, thanks to all of you for the comments. now, we just want to have an open conversation and follow up on all of this. format soo particular please just jump in when you have a relevant thought. my questions are probably focus more ong to
the light of the katrina experience, my experience, and also on the small business side of things since this is the small business committee. i guess my questions for fema is how isoss and sbdc your response different for catastrophic disasters, whatever sandys,ns, katrinas and versus other events? you have a different rulebook? a different playbook? that line roughly, is where you would distinguish between catastrophic disasters and other events? anybody want to take a stab at that? mr. rivera: i can go first and i
really look forward to hear what fema has to say, but we handle the nonmajor, for example, the red river flooding. it didn't meet the criteria for a presidential declaration, but we were there for two or three days, but we are well coordinated in our recovery centers where there is a disaster recovery center for major disaster declarations or whether it is a disaster loan operation center at the spa level. quart nation her agencies, we coordination between our agencies, we pick up -- we hiccuped a lot. gerilee anded, when i first met, we are a mature organization, and these are the
roles and responsibilities of the response players and these are the roles and responsibilities of the role players. we have actually even taken a and werther after sandy have operation teams and our field directors and everybody else so we can continue as we get in and out of a disaster, because we provide loans and a longer-term effect from that perspective. sen. vitter: ok, fema, gerilee, you want to take a stab? director bennett: i would say we don't have a different playbook for catastrophic disaster, because it is really important that we have the basic plans and systems and teams in place for all of the factors and that they practice on the smaller disasters and the exercises so they would know what to do if there was a catastrophic disaster. if we design things and we did ach differently with catastrophic disaster, we
wouldn't be as ready because we didn't practice it that way. some regional catastrophic disaster plans for some very high risk scenarios that we work together collaboratively with our partners and with specific whoes and with urban areas might be affected by those hybrid scenarios, so we do do that. those plans are very much based and alltem and teams kinds of plans that we have in place for all kinds of scenarios. sen. vitter: ok. russ? the commitmentn: we have for people to have a warm, dry, safe place to go with her family and a place to eat, we provide a service beyond that in regular disasters. so for city, for example, we had caseworkers with individual families trying to bridge gaps, things that the fema programs can't cover through statutory
limitations, we would try to bridge gaps. that one-on-one casework assistance is very labor intensive and long, and probably something we would not be getting to very quickly after a catastrophic disaster. our focus after a catastrophic disaster has to be on that sheltering, that immediate sheltering and feeding in place. we don't have a number in mind from a the difference catastrophic disaster and irregular disaster, but when katrina was something like 10 times bigger than anything we have dealt before, that was catastrophic. sandy was a big disaster but certainly if you go through any disaster, it is catastrophic for you, but regular systems worked for that scale of a disaster. sen. vitter:. ok -- ok. anybody else?
president rowe: i would just like to echo what russ said where each disasters catastrophic to you, but you have to be on the understanding that you are going to have to do that extra work with the businesses affected in your area as they recover. but when you run into something like sandy, where i think, you something likead 600,000 applications or 400,000 plus like we had in katrina, spa is literally working with hundreds of thousands of businesses and helping them with recovery. at the same time a year or two later, everybody thinks, well, the disaster is over.
theit is still affecting community, it is still affecting businesses. sen. vitter: let me jump in. one of the reasons that i asked this question is i know the gao concluded a study on sandy and said that there was not operations that surged quickly enough. that is the reason that i'm asking if there is a metric where you get it immediately that this is another category and there is a surge that starts that would not be required in less -- required unless there is a disaster? mr. rivera: as far as the gao report, as far as how we staffed up, we had 800 people on the rolls, we went up about 200 or 300 people with the louisiana
hurricane that predated sandy. we ended up with about 2500 employees. staff wasn't an issue, it is because we just didn't what them on board fast enough. i katrina, we didn't have a staffing strategy. corekatrina, we now have surge and surge plus, so now we have those on call who are available. the timing of how quickly we on boarded the staff, that was really the issue internally. we are prepared to onboard much handle the will applications much sooner than the traditional paper. we tripped up there, but we have addressed that, we have provided the input to the gao and we have changed our sop. we have changed our disaster internal -- our disaster preparedness plan internally. that shouldn't be an issue if we
have any disaster activity. the staff is available, and we have a contract in place that will supplement if we go beyond that 3000 level employees, where we can have them contract out, that is a little bit more expensive, but we can fill any gaps across the disaster program. sen. vitter: ok. go ahead. sure. director shear: sandy was obviously a much bigger disaster was aboutna, so it the speed of things coming in, so that is definitely a part of the delays. where we are at now is at -- there have been changes to the
sba's play forms. recoveryhe disaster plan forecasting models, so we are at the stage now where we have seen a change to the playbook, and james that i have talked about this and at the sba , we need a little bit more assurance from them. butight is be talked about, as far as how do these different pieces fit together to make sure that there is another major disaster like sandy, we are prepared, or of that magnitude, that the process would work out differently, and that sba would be more ready to respond. sen. vitter: ok. let me move to a slightly different topic, which was a huge frustration of mine after katrina and continues to be in i saw inwhich was that
,o many cases federal response reroofing contracts, debris removal, etc., focus on national local, smalld businesses were virtually completely left out. if they had any participation, literally five different loan processes. acknowledged in various ways and your comments, a big part of the recovery is local small business recovery, right? so here is a huge opportunity to ,rive that through this work through the debris removal, reroofing, whatever. i saw so many cases after katrina where the locals, again, either were forgotten or were
five subcontracting layers down. it also, by the way, resulted in a lot of cases of greatly increased costs. i did a specific study after katrina, comparing those mega contracts after the fact to local governments that had previously negotiated .ontracts for debris removal for louisiana, it is not a question of if, but a question of when, right? the price difference was astronomical. what are you doing differently since katrina to involve far more local small businesses? i guess that is primarily fema, but certainly involves others as well. gerilee, do you want to start? i can get backt:
to you later with specific statistics, but i can tell you the approach we are taking. in order to be able to get in fast of provide that service, we do rely heavily at fema on standby contracts and interagency agreements after disasters, where we provide funding to the army corps of engineers or departments in other agencies where we provide contract work. but i think what we are doing differently in approach is that we have those and we don't provide the full scope for the disaster upfront, we ask that they get in and do early work localen transition to business contracts as soon as possible. so we can get you more details about how that works and statistics afterwards. sen. vitter: ok. anybody else?
mr. rivera: post-katrina, we had that problem, and as gerilee explained, they have that way were they step in, but there is a focus on the government contract offices and a way to communicate with the organization that has the commission assignment on how to get the work. so this exists pre-katrina, but that is something we have developed for all disasters since then. sen. vitter: ok. let me just also make the comment where there has been a trend for federal government moreies to deal more and with mega contracts or bundling contracts that, by their size, have to go to mega entities. because itis mostly is easier on the bureaucrats, right? you have won a contract, one
mega contractor you are dealing with versus 100, and it is a lot easier within the government bureaucracy. i think that is a very worrisome trend. it is completely cutting out small businesses. small businesses either can't participate or if they do, like i say, they are layers down, in terms of subcontracting and getting pennies on the dollar. ofertainly think that a lot post-disaster contracts and work is a particularly worrisome example of that, but i think it is a bigger trend, so that is just my two cents. i would love for you all, particularly fema and small, sba , to look at my bill. we require that agencies use local subcontractors for debris removal or demolition, and we provide incentives to federal agencies to work with local contractors. i would love your very specific
feedback on those provisions, and i am guessing most of those provisions really could be implemented in some form or fashion by you, if you wanted to do it now, so i would love your feedback on that. any other comments on that? in that general area? ok. ig, based on your audits and investigations of the recovery programs, what are the outstanding, biggest concerns areasou have, and what has the disaster loan programs been vulnerable to fraud or waste or abuse, and what are your sort of topline recommendations?
director deadwyler: [indiscernible] disaster, oh, i am sorry, anytime there is a disaster program, they get referrals from many different sources. they diligently look into any allegations of fraud. they participate in regards to especially the big disasters. that was a multilayered question -- sen. vitter: so as we speak, what would be all the topline recommendations in that whole category? director deadwyler: topline recommendations, well, one of the big things that we talk the gao in regard to report as well, and that is gearing up in an emergency. they have to implement a lot of different approaches in order to make sure that they are prepared for future disasters when it comes to receiving those electronic applications. sandy, they can just
start of the electronic applications, and they got so many, they got more than they anticipated, initially, so it took a while to address that backlog, but i think with the implantation of the rapid, expedited process, i think that they should be -- and with the new plan to ramp up more quickly -- i would like to think that they would be able to address those issues. so we just have to wait and see. sen. vitter: ok. as weor deadwyler: mentioned, every disaster is different, every situation is different, so we will just have to wait and see. sen. vitter: ok. let me highlight another concern, and this might be concern,ny of y'all's because it is not a direct disaster response, but one big issue we have seen and focused on in the flood insurance
program is participation, right? -- ishas been very low the participation rate. pere has been a very low dissipation rate. that affects the affordability of the program. by some estimates, like a study from 2006 said that only 49% of homes in a special flood hazard area had flood insurance. that's less than half of the participation rate that we should have. i think this is a continued problem. we have talked about it. we have talked about in committee. we have talked about it in banking committee, but i have not seen those rates, i have not singles rates rise dramatically, i haven't seen studies the document that. nnett, do you have any observations on that, or maybe fema can follow up and give us a status on work in that area? director deadwyler: i will just
intioned -- director bennett: will just mention that fema sandyflood concerns post very, very seriously, and we have created a task force that is focusing on revamping the way that the program is operating in making sure that it is customer focused on customer friendly. we have an ombudsman function betterhelp people understand how they are they cantion -- how participate in a program and make sure that they have a place to provide feedback about the program. as to specific efforts to address participation rates, we will get back to you on that, sir. sen. vitter: ok. ok. let me start wrapping up. again, for your participation, for your ongoing work on this discussion.
i want to highlight something i mentioned in my opening comments, which is some recent legislation that has been developed and worked on in this committee. 1470, thetioned s rise after disaster act, again, i would love tfor you to look the provisions, it is introduced but it is still moving through the process, and also, the national relief tax act, we introduced that last month on a bipartisan basis. please take a look at that as, and please offer any reaction or suggestions you may have. this is obviously ongoing work for all of us, and an ongoing discussion, so i am sure we will have plenty of follow-up, including the specific things that i mentioned, and i would love a follow-up for the record. with that, we will be adjourned. thank you very much.
attributed to boko haram. we will look at what is being done to stop the militants in several african countries. that is at 12:10 p.m. eastern on c-span two. host: this week on newsmakers, frank pallone joins us from new york. thank you for being with us. rep. pallone: thank you. we also have in studio with us elana schor, energy reporter for politico, and emma dumain. certified could begin with what sir, if i could begin with what the president announced earlier on his climate change plan. explain what it would do to our viewers, and what impact it would have on the state and reaction it got from republicans. frank pallone: the main thing i