FEMA Updates Its Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit

FEMA has recently updated its Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit.  The Benefit Cost Tool Version 5.0 is used to perform benefit cost analysis for applications submitted under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grant Programs.

New features of the Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit Version 5.0 include (but are not limited to):

New Benefits Classes:  Version 5 expands the nature of what is classified as a project benefit. Prior to Version 5, the BCA Tool primarily quantified benefits for physical damages, loss of function, and casualties avoided. Version 5 now includes these new benefits classes:

  • Environmental Benefits – For acquisition/demolition and acquisition/relocation projects, environmental benefits (or “ecosystem services”) for the size of the parcel being acquired can be included in the BCA in certain situations.
  •  Social Benefits – These benefits quantify the cost of mental health treatment and lost productivity for the BCA modules which do not already include a value for this calculation (Flood, DFA, and Hurricane Wind).
  •  Nontraditional Benefits – New benefits that are applicable to certain mitigation projects that traditionally have been outside of FEMA’s BCA Tool include:
    • Volunteer Costs: Projects which will result in future reduction in  volunteer costs can now include this benefit. For example, costs for volunteer flood fighting around a water treatment plant can be included as a project benefit for a mitigation project which reduces or eliminates the need for flood fighting efforts.
    • Street Maintenance Costs: For larger acquisition or relocation  projects, benefits can now be included for the future street  maintenance costs avoided if infrastructure is removed.
    • NFIP Administration and Claim Costs: For each NFIP policy, there is a cost for general administration and a cost to administer a regular and Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) claim. Any flood mitigation project which eliminates the need to carry a flood insurance policy or reduces the claim administration burden can utilize this benefit.

Updated Life Safety Benefits Values:  A new Version 5 methodology for the Value of Statistical Life (VSL) increases the VSL from the Version 4.8 value of $5.8 million to $6.6 million. The economic value of injuries avoided is calculated differently in the BCA modules which include casualty values, but are scaled off of this new fatality value.

Revised Methodology of Existing Benefits:  The methodology for calculating residential displacement costs has changed from a standard value of $1.44/square foot/month to the lodging and meals per diem rates for the community, as determined by the General Services Administration (GSA) or Department of Defense. The non-residential displacement cost methodology is unchanged.

The software program is available at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/92923.  If you have any questions about the new BCA software program, please contact the BC Helpline at bchelpline@dhs.gov or at 1-855-540-6744.

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