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US, Department of Home! Région I MA-1336-DR-PR FEMA~1339-DR-PR #50 165 Suite 3 Parque Industrial Buchanan Guaynabo, PR. February 20, 2019 Mr. Omar J. Marrero, Esq Executive Director Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, COR3 Governor’s Authorized Representative Commonwealth of Puerto Rico P.O. Box 42001 San Juan, PR, 00940-2001 RE: Request for Direct Federal Assistance ~ Puerto Rico Institute of Forensic Sciences Dear Mr, Marrero: This letter is in response to your letter dated February 9, 2019, in which the Central Recovery and In Office of Puerto Rico (COR3) requests, on behalf of the Puerto Rico Institute of ces (IFS) and the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) again provide direct federal assistance to the IFS by deploying a Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT). More specifically, COR3 is requesting that FEMA re-activate 2 Mission Assignment that was issued to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on July 23, 2018 (2018 DMORT MA), and support COR3’s request that DHHS deploy a team to assist COR3 evaluate and improve the capabilities of the IFS. The 2018 DMORT MA was issued by FEMA to mitigate a potential public health threat by actively assisting the IFS reduce its backlog of 240 autopsies. A total of 188 autopsies had been performed when the 2018 DMORT MA ended on October 22, 2018. As you know, Section 402 of the Stafford Act authorizes FEMA to issue Mission Assignments (MAs) to other federal agencies “in support of State and local assistance response and recovery efforts...” MAs categorized as Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) task other federal agencies to perform eligible emergency work, which includes debris removal activities and emergency protective measures.’ To support the issuance of a DFA MA for emergency work, Section 403 of the Stafford Act and implementing regulation, 44 C.F.R. § 206.225, require that the activities eliminate or lessen immediate threats (1) to lives, public health and safety, or (2) of significant additional damage to improved property? FEMA regulation, 44 C.F.R. § 206.223(a)(I), states that to be eligible for financial assistance, an item of work must be required as a resuit ofa disaster. Therefore, fora DFA MA to be issued, the requested scope of work must be required to address an immediate threat " Although the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) added FEMA's MA authority to direct another federal ageney i support of recovery activities, to date, DEA MAS are limited to providing advice or expertise for state and local governments. 2 See FP #104.010-2, Mission Assignment Policy, a $ (Nov. 6, 2015). sw forma gov Mr. Omar J. Marrero, Request for DEA, Page 2 resulting from the declared incident.’ Ifthe emergency work in question is required to address a threat other than one attributable to the designated incident, the work is not eligible for PA funding and cannot be carried out under a DFA MA.! By letter dated November 1, 2018, FEMA provided the Government of Puerto Rico with a summary of the activities performed under the 2018 DMORT MA, as well as recommendations that arose out of DHHS" and FEMA’s assessment and observations of IFS operations (DMORT MA Summary Letter). With the assistance of the DMORT, the number of pending autopsies was reduced by approximately 78% over the 90-day performance period. Therefore, we consider that to the extent that the backlog was a result of the disaster or was exacerbated by the disaster, the work performed under the 2018 DMORT MA addressed the potential disaster-related public health threat ‘As noted by FEMA in the DMORT MA Summary Letter, a number of underlying issues contributed to the backlog of autopsies and need to store bodies in refrigerated trailers, including, the shortage of forensic pathologists that would continue to result in a growing backlog of autopsies, the need to implement new processes, and the need to acquire new systems and equipment. These and the other courses of action recommended in the DMORT MA Summary Letter address systemic problems resulting from issues and shortcomings that pre-date the disasters and/or cannot be attributed to the effects of the disasters. COR3 has not sufficiently demonstrated the existence of an immediate disaster-related threat. As a result, the issuance of a DFA MA in support of IFS operations does not satisfy applicable statutory, regulatory, and policy criteria. Therefore, we must respectfully decline your request for additional DFA in support of the IFS. Ifyou have any questions or require additional information, please contact Patrick Briggs, Public Buildings Sector Director, at (202) 212-1769 or Pattick.briggs@ fema.dhs.gov. Sincerely, c v Michael Bythe Acting Caribbean Area Division Director Federal Coordinating Officer Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator DR-4336/4339-PR DR-4335/4340-VI Enclosure: Letter dated November 1, 2018 S PAPPG, at 19. *PAPPG, at 19-20,