By Government Contracts Editorial Staff
The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals has proposed rules of procedure for arbitration of disputes between applicants for public assistance grants and the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding disasters after January 1, 2016. Section 423 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5189a(d)) authorizes the Board to arbitrate disputes between applicants and FEMA as to eligibility for public assistance (or repayment of past public assistance) for a disaster occurring after January 1, 2016, when the disputed amount exceeds $500,000 or, for applicants in rural areas, is at least $100,000. As stated in the proposed rule, under the Stafford Act, the Board acts for the federal government to resolve public assistance eligibility and repayment disputes by arbitration, a speedy and flexible method of impartial dispute resolution. Eligibility and repayment disputes come to the Board prior to final agency action by FEMA. The rules would facilitate the creation of an arbitration record sufficient to allow the Board to issue a prompt, just, and reasoned decision.
Arbitration Request. An applicant for public assistance could request arbitration by following 44 CFR 206.209(e) and applicable FEMA guidance implementing section 423 of the Stafford Act. The Board is “the arbitration administrator” for purposes of 44 CFR 206.209(e) and applicable FEMA guidance. Applicants must efile arbitration requests with the Board as prescribed by Board Rule 1. Voluminous attachments may be filed separately in electronic media as if under Board Rule 4(b)(1) and (3). The Clerk of the Board will acknowledge an arbitration request by emailing the parties a docketing notice. An arbitration decision under the proposed rules of procedure would be the final action by the executive branch in a dispute. Comments on the proposed rule, identified by CBCA Case 2019-61-01, are due by May 6, 2019. For the text of the rule, see 84 FR 7861.
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