External Affairs Bulletin Week of January 12


Week of January 12, 2015  |  view as webpage

In this Edition: Table of Contents Arrow

Important Dates & Deadlines

January 20  

Public Assistance Simplified Procedures Thresholds Open Comment Period Deadline

FEMA Introduces New Data Visualization Tool

As part of the commitment to increasing the transparency and accessibility of data, FEMA introduced a new interactive tool to allow the public to explore currently available FEMA grant data. The tool, available at www.fema.gov/data-visualization, allows the public to see a visual representation of the agency's federal grant data as it relates to fire, preparedness, mitigation and public assistance. The tool also visualizes disaster declarations by state, hazard and county.


The tool is in BETA because FEMA is seeking comments on how it can be improved, so comments and suggestions are welcome. FEMA will continue to add data and update the visual based on feedback in the coming months.


The OpenFEMA data used in the visualization were derived from the publicly available datasets on www.fema.gov and www.data.gov. FEMA is committed to updating these existing datasets in a timely manner and as feasible, to provide new datasets for our external partners to manipulate and use.

Data Visualization

Emergency Management Institute Offers Virtual Tabletop Exercise for a Flooding Event

With spring just around the corner, FEMA's Emergency Management Institute (EMI) will hold exercise training focusing on a flooding event, specifically looking at response and recovery efforts. The daylong exercise training will be conducted through EMI’s Virtual Tabletop Exercise (VTTX) series using video-teleconference (VTC) technology. The one day training sessions will be held on March 24, 25, and 26, 2015, from 12-4 p.m. ET.


The VTTX is designed for a community based organization with representation from multiple Emergency Support Functions (ESFs), comprised of whole community stakeholders and partners involved in a flood response and recovery. The VTTX involves key personnel discussing simulated scenarios in an informal setting to exercise their knowledge, skills and abilities needed to effectively conduct all-hazards emergency preparedness, response and recovery if a flood occurred in their local community. Participants must have an appropriate site equipped with VTC capability that can access FEMA. The format also allows for the common delivery of exercise materials, scenarios, modules and discussion questions among those participating in the exercise.


The overall goals of the flood exercise include preparing participants for a flood affecting their community; enabling participants to better coordinate their response organizations with counterparts from local governments, state governments, federal agencies, private sector organizations and non-governmental agencies, while providing a virtual, experiential education environment to exercise and enhance critical response and recovery tasks.


To apply for the VTTX flood exercise in March, submit an email request to participate in the exercise to Doug Kahn at douglas.kahn@fema.dhs.gov or 301-447-7645. The deadline for applying to participate in the exercise is March 13, 2015. 

REMINDER: FEMA Seeks Comments to Public Assistance Simplified Procedures Thresholds

FEMA seeks public comments from state, local, tribal and territorial governments, private non-profit organizations, and interested members of the public regarding the agency’s recent revision of the Public Assistance simplified procedures program. FEMA is seeking comments on specific questions to inform any future revisions to the project thresholds that are updated annually based on the Consumer Price Index. Comments are due on January 20, 2015, and may be submitted online.


Following the passage of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 and the accompanying Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, Congress directed FEMA to evaluate its simplified procedures thresholds and immediately implement the recommendations. On January 29, 2014, FEMA issued its report to Congress that recommended several changes to the threshold and outlined FEMA’s reasoning. On February 26, 2014, FEMA published a final rule amending both the minimum and maximum simplified procedures threshold for disasters declared on or after February 26, 2014.