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Home arrowNews arrowDecember 17, 2012

Prototype Programmatic Agreement Issued for Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has designated a Prototype Programmatic Agreement (PPA) to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency in developing state based agreement documents in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) for programs FEMA administers to provide assistance to communities by disaster recovery efforts.

FEMA, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), often needs to respond quickly to emergency situations where historic properties have been impacted. While the need for the PPA is underscored by the recent floods in Colorado and Superstorm Sandy, many localized disasters are destructive to property and require immediate response and both short and long term recovery efforts. Under Section 106 of the NHPA, all federal agencies must consider the effects their undertakings may have on historic properties before finalizing planning or taking action. The PPA recognizes the extraordinary challenges FEMA and affiliated organizations face under such circumstances and provides the means to appropriately comply with Section 106 and consider historic properties.

In designating the PPA, the ACHP agreed with FEMA’s determination that Section 106 requirements can be more effectively and efficiently implemented and delays to FEMA response minimized if a programmatic approach was implemented. A programmatic approach stipulates roles and responsibilities of participants, exempts some undertakings from Section 106 review where appropriate, establishes protocols for consultation with stakeholders, helps with identification and evaluation of historic properties, and expedites the assessment and resolution of adverse effects on such properties. FEMA may now use the PPA to negotiate state based agreements that provide consistent approaches and efficiencies in resolving affects to historic properties and provides opportunities for states to tailor the agreement in areas issues specific to that state warrant such an approach. 

The designation of the PPA establishes an efficiency in environmental reviews in accordance with Section 429 of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013.  The Task Force created in this provision, which is comprised of DHS, FEMA, the Council on Environmental Quality and the ACHP, has been tasked with developing efficient approaches to managing disaster recovery efforts.  The PPA will enhance consistency in review processes across federal agencies, and assist agencies in better leveraging their resources and tools.

The PPA recognizes that some of FEMA’s undertakings have the potential to affect properties of cultural and religious significance to Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. The PPA requires FEMA to remain responsible for all government-to-government consultation with federally recognized tribes. Further, the PPA recognizes that tribes themselves may be eligible for disaster recovery funds, and affords them the opportunity to use the same efficiencies in response efforts. 

The PPA has been under development since 2010 and has involved listening sessions with the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, select tribal representatives and State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs). Outreach was also conducted with  historic preservation organizations.

For more information, please visit the ACHP Web site at; and/or contact Jaime Loichinger, Office of Federal Agency Programs,, 202-606-8529.


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