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Washington, D.C., January 1, 1973.


President of the Senate,

Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: On behalf of the President and in my position as cochairman with Frank C. Carlucci, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget, of the Disaster Study Task Force, I am forwarding to the Congress the enclosed report on the disaster program.

Public Law 92-385 (August 16, 1972), Section 3, calls for the President to "conduct a thorough review of existing disaster relief legislation"; this is being done. The section further calls for a report by January 1, 1973, from the President to the Congress, with specific legislative proposals. These proposals are being prepared and the first and most urgent of these will be shortly forthcoming from the President, namely: amendments to strengthen and expand the National Flood Insurance Program. This is a major need and fully compatible with the other legislative proposals that will follow.

In my letter of December 7, 1972, I explained to you and the Chairmen of the pertinent Committees that additional time would be needed to prepare all proposals in order to comply with the desire of the Congress for a "comprehensive revision ... to preclude the need for separate legislation to aid persons affected by future disasters"-as well as to meet the President's concern that equal consideration be given to disaster mitigation and preparedness to reduce future disaster losses.

Proposals, in addition to the Flood Insurance amendments, relating to the Federal Disaster Act itself and other pertinent legislation will be forwarded with the supporting report on March 1. This should permit consideration of the new proposals before expiration of the temporary provisions of PL 92-385 on July 1, 1973.



Copy of This Letter Sent to:

G. A. LINCOLN, Director.

Hon. Frank C. Carlucci, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget. Hon. Carl Albert, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. Hon. Thomas J. McIntyre, Chairman, Subcommittee on Small Business, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C. Mr. Thomas Oden, Assistant Counsel, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

Hon. Jennings Randolph, Chairman, Committee on Public Works, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Barry Meyer, Chief Counsel, Committee on Public Works, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

Hon. Herman E. Talmadge, Chairman, Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Harker Stanton, General Counsel, Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.

Hon. Wright Patman, Chairman, Committee on Banking and Currency, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Curtis Prins, Associate Counsel, Committee on Banking and Currency, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Hon. John A. Blatnik, Chairman, Committee on Public Works, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Dick Sullivan, Chief Counsel, Committee on Public Works, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Hon. W. R. Poage, Chairman, Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Lacy Sharp, General Counsel, Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.



(Submitted on behalf of the President by G. A. Lincoln, Director, Office of Emergency Preparedness, and Frank C. Carlucci, Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget, Co-Chairmen of the Interagency PL 92-385 Disaster Study Task Force, December 29, 1972)


In recent years, several legislative and administrative measures have expanded the assistance available from the Federal Government to victims of disaster and improved the ability of the Government to provide this assistance equitably and expeditiously. Sometimes, these changes were generated by the immediacy of need after some especially severe catastrophe-for example, the Alaskan earthquake, Hurricane Camille, the San Fernando earthquake. Most recently, through Public Law 92-385, the Congress and the Administration responded with special legislation to the devastation and deprivation wrought by Tropical Storm Agnes, the most destructive storm of record in a year of costly and destructive floods throughout the country. These needs for disaster aid and recovery in 1972 were swiftly and ably met by a concerned and generous America, from the volunteer worker on the scene to the taxpayer helping through the actions of government legislators and administrators at all levels.

The basic disaster legislation, Public Law 91-606, has now been in existence for two years and has been tested by a large number and variety of natural disasters, climaxed recently by Tropical Storm Agnes. Experience during this period provides a basis for a complete review of the legislation and of all disasterrelated programs to ensure the adequacy of legislation, organization, and administration in coping with the extraordinary problems not only of widespread destruction but of individual loss due to natural disasters.


The Congress recognized this need for a comprehensive review and provided for it in PL 92-385. Section 3 of that law required the President to "conduct a thorough review of existing disaster relief legislation" in order to submit "specific legislative proposals for the comprehensive revision of such legislation." The Congress directed that the review was to provide a basis for standardizing benefits, improving program execution, and preventing misuse of benefits.

To assure these ends, however, analysis must go beyond the legislative contribution to look at the whole of the disaster assistance program, extending from preparedness through the crisis impact to long-range recovery-laws and regulations, organization and management, procedures and techniques. Also, many regular programs of the Federal Government are applicable in disaster situations-urban renewal and economic development, for example—and must therefore be considered in this analysis.

Apparent, too, was the necessity to examine all of these facets not only separately but as they interrelate. For this reason, the review of Farmers Home Administration emergency and housing loans, while called for by Congress separately in Section 5 of PL 92-385, has been undertaken as an integral part of this overall study.

In response to these requirements of PL 92-385, the President organized within the Executive Office a task force under the co-chairmanship of Director G. A. Lincoln of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Deputy Director Frank C. Carlucci of the Office of Management and Budget. Staffing was drawn largely from the OEP Disaster Programs Office but with the full participation of representatives of other agencies with major disaster assistance responsibilities. Staffs of the Domestic Council and of OMB were consulted at all stages. More than 30 Federal agencies were called upon for major contributions to the study, as were the Council of State Governments, the National League of Cities and the National Research Council.

The co-chairmen were charged by the President to undertake a comprehensive review of disaster relief legislation, programs, organization, and administration. Appendix I to this report presents a more thorough account of the concept and conduct of the study, as well as an indication of the many special analyses being performed as integral parts of the overall effort.

In assigning responsibility for the study, the President stressed that high priority be given to improved disaster preparedness as well as to disaster response. He specifically stated that ". . . equal emphasis must be placed on strengthening our efforts in preventive measures." In addition, he called for an improved Federal Flood Insurance Program and transmitted to the Congress proposed legislation to that effect. Similar proposals are an important element of this study.

Earlier legislation clearly spelled out the relationship between the Federal Government and the States in disaster responsibilities. PL 91-606, the comprehensive Disaster Relief Act of 1970, states the Congressional intent to provide Federal Assistance to the State and local governments in connection with their responsibilities for disaster relief and makes it clear that Federal aid is to be a supplement to and not a substitute for State and local assistance. That same statute, while improving Federal benefits and responsiveness, stressed also the development of State capabilities for disaster response.

This concept of the appropriate roles of Federal and State governments is consistent with the Administration policy of reducing Federal involvement, managerial and financial, in problems best resolved at the State and local levels. Within these Congressional and Presidential guidelines, this study has measured present programs and procedures not only in terms of sound management theory and practice but by the test of experience in a representative variety of recent disasters. This empirical examination has been careful to look at successes as well as shortcomings, at the requirements in the more "routine" disasters as well as the extraordinary exigencies of an Agnes catastrophe, at the reactions of those involved in the front lines of disaster operations as well as the policy makers and planners.


This review has generated alternatives in basic policy aproaches, in specific program formulation, in management assignments and methods, and in financing. For it was recognized that, just as each individual disaster program (e.g., warning, loans, housing) must be considered as one facet of the whole, so too must these findings on the overall disaster program be further reviewed in perspective as but one aspect of the broader issue of the proper and effective role of the Federal Government in using national resources to meet national needs.

The study has developed the basic elements of a system to meet the goals of disaster preparedness and assistance. Upon completion of this review and formulation of proposals, appropriate legislative recommendations will be transmitted to the Congress, by March 1, 1973.

Proposed changes, however, have not been limited to matters requiring legislative actions. Numerous management improvements have been identified and are now being implemented.

The primary thrust of this management effort has been to streamline and accelerate the process of getting assistance to the communities and individuals, especially by delegations of authority to the field, simplification of procedures, and innovations in techniques. Funds for restoration and rebuilding in the Agnes area were advanced directly to the community applicants, bypassing the normal channel through the State; this modification of standard procedures permitted reconstruction to begin at the earliest possible date. Funds and other assistance to indiivduals were similarly accelerated by streamlining the delivery mechanism. The Small Business Administration, strained by the volume of applicants, was able nevertheless to speed up loan application processing by using a system for mass accelerated appraisals and by increasing its field office authority to approve loans. Additionally, in certain areas where applications were particularly heavy, Treasury officials were on-site to disburse checks for the approved disaster loans.

OEP speeded up housing assistance by using for the first time the expedient of camper trailers, usually placed next to the damaged homes, to replace temporarily some of the destroyed living facilities of disaster victims. This innovation, along with quick temporary repair of less-damaged homes, helped persons to return quickly toward their normal living situation and minimized relocation of persons to mobile home parks.

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