GAO pushes for better flood data

A General Accounting Office study found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood map modernization project needs sharply defined data standards and performance measures.

GAO auditors said that flood cartographers need consistent data collection and analysis methods for communities with similar risk levels. The study, released yesterday, also calls on DHS to ensure staff capabilities and to create a clear plan to partner with state and local entities with disparate resources and capabilities.

The report stated: "Although FEMA ranked the nation's 3,164 counties from highest to lowest risk, it has not yet established data standards that describe the appropriate level of detail, accuracy, and analysis required to develop digital maps based on risk level."

Flood maps pinpoint locations of greatest risk of flooding and are used by government to set building standards and insurance rates. FEMA's efforts to update flood maps are part of a strategy to use advanced technologies for greater accuracy and Internet accessibility.

The GAO study was intended to assess the progress of FEMA's five-year, $1 billion map modernization project. Seventy percent of FEMA's maps are more than 10 years old. Since 1968, the agency has published 100,000 map panels, or 25-square-mile snapshots of floodplains, for 19,000 communities.

DHS and FEMA officials agreed to comply with the study's recommendations.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.