Public Assistance

The Public Assistance Program was established by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as Amended (Stafford Act), Title 42 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) § 5121 et seq.  It is regulated through 44 Code of Federal Regulations, Emergency Management and Assistance, Part 206 Subpart G, H, and I.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the awarding agency.

The mission of Public Assistance is to provide supplemental grants to eligible applicants to aide community response and recovery following major disasters or emergencies declared by the President.  When this occurs in Tennessee, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency manages the program and becomes the recipient and pass-thru entity for awarded funds to eligible applicants.  Funds can be awarded to State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Governments, and qualifying Private Non-Profit organizations.  In most declarations, the federal cost-share is typically 75 percent of eligible costs.  Eligible projects include debris removal, emergency protective measures, and permanent restoration of infrastructure. Public Assistance also encourages and provides funding for certain types of hazard mitigation measures so repairs can include protection from future damage.


A more thorough depiction of eligibility is provided for applicants and work in the subpages of this section.  This is meant to provide a general understanding of the methodology FEMA uses to determine eligibility.

FEMA has four basic components of eligibility: applicant, facility, work, and cost.  This begins with Applicant review when the Request for Public Assistance is submitted in FEMA’s Grants Portal.  Eligible Applicants must be a state, territory, tribe, local government, or private nonprofit organization.  The next step is Facility Review.  The Facility must be a building, public works, system, equipment, or natural feature.  The third step is Work.  Work is categorized as either Emergency or Permanent. It must be required as a result of the declared incident, located within the designated disaster area, and the legal responsibility of the Applicant.  The last is Cost.  Cost is the funding tied directly to eligible work, and must be adequately documented, authorized, necessary and reasonable. Eligible costs include labor, equipment, materials, contract work, as well as direct and indirect administrative costs.

There is a timeline and sequence of events taken following a declaration to educate, gather data and documentation, and award eligible funding.  The following provides a quick overview of the individual parts of the process that make up the whole.

PA Process

Following project awards, there is another sequence of events.  The order can be different for each applicant and may not include all shown steps.

Grant Process Following Award