Project Description

Emergency Home Repair Virgin Islands Program (EHRVI)

Winsor currently supports the Virgin Island Emergency Home Repair Program in the US Virgin Islands, a FEMA Sheltering and Temporary Electrical Power (STEP) program. Winsor is responsible for providing intake and eligibility training and quality assurance policy guidance, as well as file closeout reviews.

Winsor created an Inventory tracking management and workflow system in Salesforce for the over 10,000 applications processed in the EHRVI system. This system drove the primary reporting and operational functions of the Closeout QA team working with Case Management, Contractors, Inspectors, Roofing Estimators and the Finance Department on the issues found that required correction before submitting to the client VIHFA for invoicing. The system supported at its peak over 100 team members in the various departments of the program and facilitated a drastic increase in production output and consistent daily reporting outputs that served as anchors to an ever-evolving program.

The purpose of the closeout process is to ensure that a completely compliant, fully document, and accurately calculated record exists for the auditable life of the Program and its compliance monitoring period. The closeout QA process is designed to begin as soon as feasible, so that the initial files that complete can serve as pilot cases, allowing case management, construction management, and other teams to refine and approve their processes and policies early in the recovery process.

Designing the closeout QA approach from the outset of the recovery Program is a critical step which allows all teams to pursue a uniform and consistent end goal. The closeout checklist should be designed to meet all Federal and State requirements, while not adding unnecessary steps and reviews that do not serve to enforce any actual requirement. Having case management and construction management stakeholders as part of this development process can serve as a valuable counterweight to an overly prescriptive closeout checklist and process.

At a minimum, the QA verification process will include a review of:

  • Application and intake
  • Ownership at time of the storm
  • Primary residence
  • Site-specific environmental review
  • Damage assessment completeness and accuracy
  • Award calculation(s)
  • Payments
  • Grant agreements and rights of entry
  • Certificate of occupancy or other floodplain and building code compliance
  • Flood insurance
  • Inspections
  • Decent, safe, and sanitary condition of dwelling

The closeout process that occurs prior to a final award and grant agreement being issued to an applicant is generally the last chance to easily correct or complete Program required documents, collect any missing files, or perform any other eligibility activities. It is thus a best practice to complete and verify the majority of these reviews before the complete award is issued.

If the recovery Program is operating under a unit price model with vendors, the closeout milestone can be a very powerful and effective unit, as if it is designed correctly ensure that the goal of the recovery effort has been met. Designing this process in conjunction with finance and procurement teams can streamline the process of setting up and implementing unit price payments based on the overall goal of the recovery effort.

In any disaster recovery effort, there are multiple software systems configured to meet different business needs. In order to provide consistent and comprehensive reports it is necessary to have a single data source which contains all relevant reporting information. If reports are to be developed quickly and easily it is also necessary to transform data into easily understood tables and fields, and to convert it into a standard, modern database format. The data warehouse will provide this environment, and serve to simplify the task of developing custom reports. By providing a translation layer between custom reports and the native application it is possible to change software platforms without needing to re-create the numerous custom reports that have already been developed. To simplify systems administration overhead a web-based reporting module can be developed to work in conjunction with the data warehouse. Using Crystal Reports or Tableau this array of drilldown reports can be run from any computer with a web browser, removing the need to configure each machine.

The data warehouse will be designed to simplify the development effort in creating custom and ad-hoc reports. To this end all data will be given meaningful field names and descriptions that are not tied to any particular data source. Additionally, all summary data will be de-normalized, so that developers can write reports off of a single table or query, and not have to perform complex joins or lookups when developing reports. An integrated system of real-time database triggers will ensure that all summary information is always current and complete.

The data warehouse will be a Microsoft SQL Server database or an Oracle database and will be fully ODBC compliant. An extensive array of pre-built views are available to allow report developers to create detailed reports without having to create new tables or queries. The data warehouse will be an open architecture system, allowing developers to create any new views or table they need to provide required reports.

The Crystal Enterprise or Tableau web-based reporting system are an optional add-on to the data warehouse. If desired any ODBC capable reporting tool can be used to develop reports.

An integrated reporting module will be developed in order to provide a single source for all required cost, progress, and pipeline projection reports. A key element of the reporting module is the ability to summarize cases at all levels, while maintaining the ability to drill down to individual cases.

The AECOM team is committed to provided knowledge transfer services by holding training classes in general database programming and report development, as well as providing specific training on the progress and cost reporting system architecture. These classes will allow the client’s IT staff to seamlessly take over support and maintenance tasks, removing the need for future consultant involvement.

The core of any recovery effort is a rapid and accurate assessment of unmet need, allowing for aid to be distributed in an equitable and compliant manner. Regardless of the aid delivery methodology selected, from a pure grant/reimbursement program, to an integrated construction program, it is necessary to determine the extent of damage, the aid already received by the applicant, and then to apply program policies and guidelines to determine the a amount of assistance to be delivered to the applicant.

The first step in computing the unmet need of an applicant is the damage assessment. This process can take on a variety of forms, from a purely desktop level of receipt review to a pro-active assessment of damages prior to any repairs being undertaken. Generally speaking, a blended method will be used in order to fully account for funds already expended by the applicant, as well as future recovery needs.

Quantifying the repairs remaining to be made on a structure requires a systematic approach, generally involving a damage estimating software package. The insurance industry standard is Xactimate, which, when used correctly, provides a powerful and audit compliant estimating solution.

The challenges of correctly deploying Xactimate are primarily ones of consistency and ownership/longevity. The recovery program must determine pricing standards, eligibility standards, inspection standards, and data transfer standards early in the process, and enforce these standards vigilantly. These guidelines ensure that a consistent pricing level is used thr0ughout the Program, that only eligible scopes of work are included, that each damage assessment meets the audit requirements of photo documentation and narrative, and that the resulting inspections are able to be incorporated into the system of record.

The ownership/longevity issues involving Xactimate are more nuanced. Major damage assessment organizations have customized workflows and templates for their damage assessment efforts, and these structures are one of the major reasons to use the firms for damage assessment efforts. However, leaving the damage assessments in the hands of these vendors is not a sustainable long term solution, as it ties the agency to a particular vendor and format that may not be in the long term interests of the recovery effort. The solution is to determine a cutover point, where the ownership, format, and control of an estimate file passes from the damage assessment team(s) to the recovery agency.

Determining the appropriate level of reimbursement for repairs already conducted can be carried out via several methods. Using the damage assessment model based upon cost estimating software (Xactimate), the recovery program can value the repairs already carried out using the same pricing methodology as remaining damage is valued at. This has the strength of a consistent pricing methodology, but fails to take in to account post-storm price increases, or the fact that applicants may carry out initial repairs using different recovery methods than the Program will fund on a go-forward basis.

The second component of award calculation is determining duplication of benefits received(DOB) by applicants. The largest sources of DOB are National Flood Insurance Program structure payments (NFIP), Small Business Administration loans (SBA), and private flood insurance payments. Generally, FEMA assistance is not a duplication of benefit for long term recovery assistance, as it is emergency/short term aid.

Developing automated data feeds for NFIP and SBA payments as early as possible is critical to allow for accurate and rapid award calculation and disbursement of funds. Private flood insurance payments require a manual verification process, as no central database exists for these payments.

Once the overall project cost is identified and the duplication of benefits received determined, it is possible to compute the overall aid level to be disbursed to the applicant. This requires the application of Program policies and business logic, incorporating items like award caps, incentives for Low Income applicants, modifications to award for substantial damage determinations, and other incentives and modifications to awards.

The AECOM team recognizes that delivering systems and software on time and on budget is only part of the IT challenge. Making sure that systems solve the right problem, are easy to learn, and are flexible enough to maintain are also vital development and planning goals. The AECOM team has developed a set of core philosophies that help to achieve these goals, while also providing transparency and accountability to the owner.

The AECOM team understands that Florida intends to deploy an independently selected case management system of record. The AECOM team if fully prepared to support this approach by providing analysis and implementation expertise to rapidly and effectively roll this system out to call centers and case management intake centers. In order to support integrated reporting and data driven performance management the AECOM team will ensure that any ancillary inspection, construction, or change management systems are integrated with this system.

A key aspect of effective disaster recovery is reliable and actionable data, tracked and based on the system of record. The rapidly changing nature of disaster recovery means that the metrics and reports that are of key importance will change on a regular basis, requiring a flexible and rapid development approach. The AECOM team is comprised of disaster recovery information management developers and subject matter experts with a proven track record of adapting to the evolving requirements of disaster recovery programs, providing the required information at the required time.

Communications with applicants are a critical component of disaster recover, and the AECOM team understands the importance of accurate and timely communication tracking and reporting. Deploying an industry standard Nextiva call center management system, the AECOM team will develop a seamless case management integration suite, tying together call center information with the case management system of record.

A key component of the AECOM team’s data driven performance approach will be the Program Management Dashboard (PMD). The PMD will be designed to track applicants through the entire recovery lifecycle, and will be dynamically fed by the case management system of record, as well as the selected cost estimation and construction management tools. This dashboard will allow for high level trend and metrics analysis, with drilldown capabilities which allow for individual case investigation and resolution.

To assemble a complete and cohesive record of strategies and approaches to Federal funds management, the AECOM team will assemble a Weekly Task Tracker that identifies the issue, accountabilities, and ball-in-court so that Programmatic issues are tracked from identification to resolution. The Weekly Task Tracker will take the form of a project management file so that relevant policy research, correspondence, and other technical material described above can be indexed to a specific task or request generated by the program management team. This will also facilitate compliance tracking and reporting as well as project management as specific deliverables are tied to tasks identified by Program leadership.

The AECOM team is fully capable and prepared to deliver these services, and will provide Florida with a management approach plan within 15 days of a notice to proceed. The management approach plan will detail the timelines, deliverables, and development factors for the implementation of the PMD as well as implementation of the case management system of record. As part of the management approach plan, the AECOM team will include a strategy for maximizing the direct costs of its efforts and minimizing indirect costs, so as to reduce the level of administrative cost burden that will be placed on the recovery effort through this effort.

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