Levee Safety: Army Corps and FEMA Have Made Little Progress in Carrying Out Required Activities
U.S. Government Accountability Office Washington United States
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Levees, which are man-made structures such as earthen embankments or concrete floodwalls, play a vital role in reducing the risk of flooding. Their failure can contribute to loss of lives or property, as shown by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 miles of levees across the United States, many of which are owned or operated by nonfederal entities. The Corps and FEMA are the two principal federal agencies with authorities related to levee safety. The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 requires the Corps and FEMA to take the lead on certain national levee-safety-related activities including developing a national levee inventory, which Congress authorized in 2007. The act also includes a provision for GAO to report on related issues. This report examines the Corps and FEMAs progress in carrying out key national activities related to levee safety required in the act. GAO reviewed pertinent federal laws and executive orders as well as budget, planning, and policy documents from the Corps and FEMA compared agency activities with federal internal control standards and interviewed Corps and FEMA headquarters officials. GAO recommends that the Corps and FEMA develop a plan that includes milestones for implementing the required national levee-safety-related activities using existing resources or requesting additional resources as needed. The agencies generally concurred with GAOs recommendation.