In 2018 FEMA established the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities Program (BRIC). Each year, 6% of all federal disaster recovery spending is budgeted for BRIC, specifically to fund large-scale infrastructure projects that mitigate hazards before disaster strikes. Last year, more than $3.3 billion in federal funds were requested from the program, and $500 million in funds were ultimately awarded. While the BRIC funding pool has grown to $1 billion for 2021, and there’s greater attention than ever on federal resilience and infrastructure funding, procuring those funds will still be extremely competitive.
Having worked with a number of clients to submit BRIC applications last year (some of which were successful, some of which were not), our team dove into the data to better understand what would improve the probability of selection in 2021. To highlight trends that could drive even more successful outcomes for our clients this year, we developed an interactive dashboard using publicly available data on FEMA’s website. As you start to plan your BRIC submission for 2021, consider some of these key takeaways that we pulled from the 2020 data:
Big projects garner more attention – We anticipate that large-scale infrastructure improvements will be prioritized by FEMA in the upcoming grant cycle. Of the 22 competitively selected projects in 2020, more than half requested upwards of $10 million in federal share. Many selected projects even exceeded $15 million in federal share, with one reaching as high as $50 million. Successful applications were primarily infrastructure projects that will protect a large area and multiple critical facilities.
Prove lasting positive impact – 100% of competitively selected applications included projections and plans for addressing future conditions. Similarly, 80% of selections included nature-based solutions. For this upcoming grant cycle, FEMA has also adjusted their terminology to formally address climate change as a scoring criteria and added additional criteria around equity and inclusion. In 2021, additional points will be allocated for solutions that benefit economically disadvantaged rural communities.
Consider your mitigation pipeline – FEMA prioritized planning-related applications that will lead to better mitigation projects in the future. Capability and capacity building projects, which include plan development, engineering studies, project scoping, building partnerships, and other planning activities, represented 80% of selected applications. Investing in these categories will lead to greater success with mitigation projects in upcoming years.
As the costs of climate change soar, competition for federal funding is getting tougher. Leveraging data to build stronger proposals will open more doors for your critical infrastructure and climate adaptation projects, providing the capital needed to protect your community. If you are interested in viewing the dashboard or interested in exploring how the data might boost your 2021 BRIC application, please contact us today.
This blog was co-authored by Katherine Duskin and Rachel Bradley.