U.S. Government Accountability Office Recommends Making Flood Mapping of Certain Indian Tribal Lands A Higher Priority

Jan 4, 2013


In a report issued today, January 4, 2013, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) has recommended that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) Administrator examine ways to make mapping of Indian tribal lands in flood-prone areas a higher priority. FEMA has agreed with the GAO recommendation.

Indian tribes’ participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (“NFIP”) is extremely low, even though some Indian lands are at high risk of flooding.  In response to a “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” mandate, the GAO examined:

(1) Factors affecting Indian tribes’ participation in NFIP

(2) FEMA’s efforts to increase tribes’ participation in NFIP

(3) Administrative and legislative actions that could increase tribes’ participation

Given ongoing Congressional interest in private sector alternatives to NFIP, the GAO also explored whether solutions exist that could offer affordable coverage to low-income tribal members–for example, expansion of access to risk-pooling programs that could help insure more tribal households.  One such program already insures thousands of Indian properties.

Micro-insurance, another relatively new product, would involve insurers offering less expensive policies with relatively low coverage limits, but coverage for all tribes.  FEMA said that its NFIP privatization study mandated by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 would include an assessment of these alternatives.

To access today’s GAO report and a complete summary, click here.



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