Expertise

Expertise

Diverse and qualified management.

DMS’ primary strength is the experience of our diverse and qualified management team, many of whom held important positions with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and various states. Our senior team has unparalleled experience not only in financial recovery but also in utilizing FEMA policies to repair and replace structures using sustainable mitigation strategies.

We maximize funding opportunities from FEMA, insurance and other grant resources for our clients.

Plan. Prepare. Recover.

DMS manages the complex process of disaster recovery. Our team’s robust knowledge of FEMA Public Assistance (PA), mitigation, insurance, and other funding sources and our experience working with state and federal governments are put to work daily to assist our Public Sector clients to plan for, prepare and recover from natural and man-made disasters.

The value of an effective strategy plan

Putting together an effective strategic plan pre-disaster will save a significant amount of time and money on the back end and positions our clients to be audit proof. Effective planning integrates various operational departments including facilities, emergency management, risk management and finance.

Document Retention System

A critical piece of that plan is the document retention system. This protocol ensures that the applicant can meet its operational objective to protect the health and safety of the population, and also track all eligible costs for reimbursement.

Risk Management and Pre-Disaster Planning

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Risk Management involves the identification of exposures and an assessment of the appropriate actions necessary to minimize loss from those exposures. Risk Management also ensures compliance with FEMA policies and regulations relative to insurance. Having a pro-active disaster recovery program is one risk management action that will help minimize the impact of a disaster. Disaster planning is critical to minimizing recovery expenses and the potential residual impact to people, property and business due to disaster events.

Preliminary Damage Assessments(PDA)

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The PDA is conducted by FEMA, the State and potential applicants, to determine the impact and magnitude of damage from a disaster event. The PDA determines whether resources are needed. Applicants collaborate with both FEMA and the State, to view their damage, assess the scope and provide an estimate of repair costs. The PDA identifies complex scopes that are beyond the capabilities of State and local resources and confirm the need for supplemental Federal resources.

FEMA Public Assistance (PA) Program

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Understanding the process and policies of the FEMA Public Assistance Program (PA) is critical to maximizing funding after a declared disaster. PA disaster relief is supplemented by the federal government and made available to eligible applicants to help return their disaster damaged facilities to pre-disaster conditions. The process is complex and the application deadline passes by quickly. It is highly important to be pro-active to prevent these funding opportunities from being lost.

FEMA Eligibility

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There are four types of eligible applicants for Public Assistance:
• State government agencies
• Local governments
• Tribal governments
• Select private non-profit (PNP) organizations

FEMA will review each applicant’s case and determine which recovery costs are eligible and how they are quantified. If an applicant disagrees with the amount of their award, they may appeal FEMA’s decision.

Damage Assessments

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Immediately after a disaster is declared, damage assessments should be done. It should include sufficient documentation as well as testing of all structural components of the facilities. There is no substitute for accuracy which will potentially save clients thousands of hours of time and minimize unnecessary expenses to complete recovery projects.

Insurance Eligibility and Recovery

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A detailed review of all insurance policies and their respective coverage must be conducted to enable the applicant to knowledgeably discuss claims with insurance adjusters. The applicant is responsible for ensuring that the cause of loss is properly documented and supportable.

Alternate and Improved Projects

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Alternate – Funding alternatives are available when it comes to developing a disaster recovery and rebuilding plan. Applicants have options; they can replace the original structure, improve upon it, or direct the money toward another project. Applicants may find that the public/ community will not be best served by rebuilding an impaired facility and restoring its functionality to its pre-disaster state; therefore, applicants may request to use their funding for the same facility for alternative project(s). Applicants may request Alternate Project funding for permanent recovery restoration projects. Alternate Project funds may be used for Hazard Mitigation projects that are eligible under Section 404 of the Stafford Act. The Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 was signed into law. The law (added section 428), which authorizes alternative procedures for the Public Assistance (PA) Program. The program allows grants to be expedited for projects on the basis of fixed estimates that may provide financial incentives for the timely or cost-effective completion of work if the eligible applicant, agrees to be responsible for actual costs that exceed the estimate. Another benefit of this pilot program is the flexibility to use all or part of the excess funds for (cost-effective) projects that minimize the risk of future damage, reduce vulnerability of hardship, or suffering from a declared disaster, as well as other actions to improve PA operations or planning. Improved – Facilities must have equal functionality and the same capacity as that of the pre-disaster structure. The applicant may make additional improvements to their facility while making disaster repairs. Applicants must receive pre-approval from the state before project commencement. In addition, an improved project that results in a significant change from the pre-disaster configuration (i.e., different location, function, or size) of the facility must also be pre-approved by FEMA prior to construction. When an applicant proposes an alternate or improved project, FEMA conducts a stringent review to ensure the revised project does not change the functionality or capacity of a facility outside the footprint of the existing structure, and is compliant with the Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) laws. Staying abreast of changes in PA laws can be extremely beneficial to clients who are interested in maximizing their recovery options and their funding dollars.

Grant Management

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The grant administration process requires a thorough understanding of managing costs, compliance with federal and state regulatory guidelines, and the ability to resolve funding issues. Projects must be aligned and documented properly. The process involves coordination with FEMA from funding procurement to closeout. DMS assists clients to maximize financial resources and manage all eligible grant funding for all sizes of projects. This will maintain cash flow to ensure a successful recovery.

Alternative Grant and Funding Programs

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DMS Disaster Consultants’ team of grant experts remains current with the continuum of alternate funding sources and is well-versed in eligibility, as well as compliance factors. Some of the alternative grant sources we may be able to help you secure include:

• Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Recovery Funding

• FEMA 404 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) Grants

• Community Reconstruction Zones (CRZ) Funding

• Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Funding

• Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and CDBG- Disaster Funding

• United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grants

• Department of Transportation (DOT) (State and Federal)

• Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (State and Federal levels)

• US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE)

• National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

• Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

• Department of Energy (DOE)

• United States Fish and Wildlife

• Department of Commerce (Economic Development Grants)

• Department of Veterans Affairs

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

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The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Entitlement Program allocates annual grants to larger cities and urban counties to develop viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic opportunities. These grants are typically for low income individuals. State Administered CDBG, also known as the Small Cities CDBG program: States award grants to smaller units of general local government that carry out community development activities. Annually, each State develops funding priorities and criteria for selecting projects. Disaster Recovery Assistance: HUD provides flexible grants to help cities, counties, and States recover from Presidentially declared disasters, especially in low-income areas.

Scope Development

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The scope of work document (SOW) must accurately reflect and define the work activities, deliverables, and timelines that must be implemented to execute work for an efficient disaster recovery. The damage must be completely detailed in the SOW and correspond directly to the cause of damage. Accuracy of documentation is critical to ensure cash flow is uninterrupted. If there are any discrepancies, funding delays will in turn cause project delays that prolong the return of the damaged facility to its pre-disaster state.

Project Formulation / Cost Estimating

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DMS documents damages to the facility, identifies the eligible scope of work and provides an estimate of costs aligned with the scope of work for each one of the applicant’s projects.

Hazard Mitigation Planning (404 and 406)

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The Hazard Mitigation, authorized under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, provides grants to states and local governments. A successful recovery plan requires an effective mitigation strategy, whereby measures to be taken are cost-effective and technically feasible in relation to the repairs necessary to restore the disaster-damaged facilities. 406 hazard mitigation funds are used to provide future protection to the portions of the facilities that were actually damaged and 404 hazard mitigation funds are used to provide protection to the undamaged parts of the facility.

Codes and Standards

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Additional funding is available to bring public facilities up to current code regulations. Applicants who understand the FEMA public assistance program are often able to benefit by receiving funding for facilities that are up to current codes and standards in addition to receiving money for hazard mitigation.

Technical Analysis

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Technical analysis is employed to support justification to repair or replace facilities to levels more sustainable than prior to a disaster event. DMS employs and maintains strategic alliances with certified architects and engineers who are experts in assessing sustained damages after a disaster. This analysis is required to accurately develop the scope and cost effectiveness of projects. Applicants and Sub-Applicants must use FEMA-approved methodologies as well as software to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of their projects.

Financial Management

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All applicants are required to establish and maintain accounting systems and financial records to accurately account for funds awarded to them. These records shall include both Federal funds and all matching funds of State, local and alternate sources when applicable.

Cash Flow Management

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Managing recovery funding, as well as accounting for and complying with the rules and regulations of the various PA programs is a critical component of cash flow management. Failure to properly account for and comply with procurement regulations can result in funding reimbursements denied or projects being de-funded, which can result in recovery delays or operations being permanently halted.

Direct Administrative Costs (DAC)

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DAC incurred by the applicant may be used to capture the costs incurred for the preparation of: the cost estimate in the site assessments, preparation of the description and disaster-damage dimensions, as well as preparation of the scope of work (past and future), and closeout. These costs can be incurred by force account labor or by contractors. For example, engineering studies necessary for scope development or necessary functions in the grant management process are eligible. All eligible functions must be tied to a specific Project Worksheet (PW). Since PWs are the basis for funding under the Public Assistance (PA) Program, they must be submitted to FEMA for approval. With proper documentation and eligible work performed, the labor charges from executives through clerical staff can be included. To manage DAC effectively, it is necessary to be intimately familiar with FEMA regulations, as well as the terms of the applicant’s insurance policy.

Insurance Litigation Support and Negotiation

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Post disaster, disputes may arise regarding an insurance determination. This can occur when there are multiple, overlapping policies to which the recovery can be allocated, for example, when there is a discrepancy between wind vs. flood damage or when insurance companies have not paid to policy limits. Should the need arise, DMS has an in-house team of insurance and disaster recovery experts ready to assist clients through the litigation process. DMS has been successful in recovering millions of dollars from excess insurance carriers as a result of litigation and negotiation.

Insurance Application

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DMS has extensive experience working with clients to maximize insurance reimbursements in conjunction with FEMA funding. The DMS team utilizes a strategic approach focused on ensuring that our clients take full advantage of all reimbursement and funding opportunities so they can get back to business and move forward sustainably. We can help:

• Analyze whether damage was caused by wind versus flood
• Allocate insurance proceeds among various insured perils, including business interruption, structural damage, and other damages which may be covered under the insurance policy
• Allocate insurance proceeds to multiple facilities
• Interpret the terms and coverages of the insurance policies
• Determine and document the differences among damages covered by FEMA and not covered by insurance and those covered by insurance but not by FEMA Assist with the documentation needed to obtain advances on settlement payments from insurance companies.

Evaluation of Material and Intellectual Losses

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DMS has successfully documented and recovered funding for materials, equipment and intellectual property lost as a result of a natural disaster. An example of this recovery was the loss of critical inmate documentation at a prison subsequent to Hurricane Katrina. A large percentage of the intellectual data required drying and treatment processes to preserve the paper. To avoid potential damage from the impact of future events – the data was then digitized and stored remotely to create permanent records.

Temporary Facility Justification

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Building temporary facilities is a priority after the disaster threat has passed, since it may be some time before buildings are useable again. The scale of temporary facilities provided can range from small portable equipment to an entire temporary high school, hospital or courthouse. Funding resources may be available to eligible applicants for providing temporary facilities when the need is documented and identified early in the process.

Data and Document Management

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Applicants must systematically track, monitor, and record all aspects of project activity. Costs must be necessary, reasonable and documented. FEMA may compare actual costs to costs paid by other applicants in the state, or compare by costs listed in industry sources.

Appeals

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In the event that there is a disagreement over cost with FEMA, it may be necessary to file an appeal. Filing an appeal should be the last resort. Knowledge of FEMA regulations and practices will enable applicants to challenge FEMA when necessary in order to maximize funding. Since 2004, DMS has been involved in thousands of projects, and has the distinguished record of only having to file five appeals/arbitrations. DMS was successful in four of those cases.

 

As the grant closes, which can be months or even years after the actual disaster declaration, the applicant will be required to produce a detailed reconciliation of all written project worksheets and the reimbursements that were received from all funding sources. An audit could be triggered if there is a significant monetary threshold between source documentation and reimbursed projects. The audit is conducted by the state and focuses on the accounting practices and principles that were applied to the projects. Files are randomly inspected to ensure that cost summaries, original source documents and other financial records are included. Files are sent by the grantee to FEMA for additional review. To avoid an audit or to be prepared should one be triggered, it is important to pay attention to the following from day one of your recovery:
• Document Everything.
• Assure that records are complete, accurate and FEMA compliant; narrative is detailed.
• File all documentation by Project Worksheet.
• Justify all costs with Source Documentation

Forensic Engineering

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Collecting, analyzing and investigating data related to the materials, structures or components that failed as a result of a natural disaster provides answers to questions. The goal of the forensic process is to assist clients in rebuilding/restoring facilities to be more resilient, minimizing the impact of future disaster events.

Forensic Accounting

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Forensic accounting uses practices by which complete cost estimates are verified for large construction projects. Within this strategic process is the measurement of the value of any inventory damaged or destroyed in accordance with the terms and conditions of the insurance policy. Additionally, DMS assists its client with determining, from an accounting perspective, the repairs and/or replacement of personal property damaged or destroyed by a disaster. DMS and its team has the capabilities to quantify economic losses sustained as a result of any disruption to normal business operations and the extent to which expenses were incurred to resume normal practices.

Reconciliation

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The final reconciliation report consists of a summary of expenditures (force account labor, force account equipment, materials, supplies and contracts). Documentation must be maintained clearly and accurately by Project Worksheet. The filing system must be capable of tracking costs with intricate levels of detail.

Closeout

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This final process is relatively less complex than the others, as long as all of the disaster related expenditures are carefully documented, segregated, accounted for and align with specific projects. DMS has been recognized by the State of Louisiana for its closeout of the Jefferson Parish Public School System. All expenditures including all individual PW’s, force labor, materials, equipment, contract project information and contractor utilization must be identified by FEMA Categories of work. It is necessary to maintain detailed records of cancelled checks and store all data through the closeout process for an additional three years. All FEMA funding is subject to audit and “de-funding” for a period of three years after the Final Closeout of all obligated PW’s.

By the time FEMA or insurance companies provide direction, it’s too late.

We understand how to navigate the system.

It is necessary to be pro-active by taking immediate protective measures to control and minimize damages. Initial damage assessments, immediate needs funding and temporary facilities are all things that must be addressed from the immediate aftermath of a disaster. We understand how to navigate the system and can respond to a federally declared disaster or emergency within hours to assist our clients. By approaching the process with an experienced and balanced group of professionals comprised of former FEMA executives, accomplished industry engineers, licensed architects, project managers, insurance professionals, eligibility and technical specialists, the end result will be a successful recovery.