Congressman French Hill Awards Golden Fleece to FEMA for Mismanagement in Disaster Response

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman French Hill (R-AR) named the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the first winner of the Golden Fleece award of 2018 for the mismanagement of manufactured trailers during their response to 2017 natural disasters.

In the letter to the FEMA Administrator William B. “Brock” Long, Congressman Hill wrote:

January 31, 2018

The Honorable William B. “Brock” Long


Federal Emergency Management Agency

500 C St SW

Washington, DC 20024-2523

Dear Administrator Long:

I write today to inform you that your agency is this month’s recipient of my Golden Fleece Award. I am awarding this to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for what appears to be the mismanagement of manufactured trailers during their response to 2017 natural disasters.

First, on December 27, 2017, the Associated Press reported that FEMA typically buys manufactured trailers at around $150,000 each, leases these trailers to disaster victims, and then auctions off the trailers after 18 months of use or the first sign of minor damage. According to the report, these trailers are sold for “pennies on the dollar,” and more than 100 were auctioned off in the two days leading up to Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. Also, FEMA has continued auctioning off these trailers while awarding more than $278 million in contracts to trailer manufacturers and despite thousands of people still applying for temporary federal housing. I believe that selling off trailers needed for disaster victims with only minor damage or 18 months of use is a waste of resources, depriving desperate individuals of potential homes.

Second, while I was pleased to see local reporting that overstocked food owned by FEMA and intended for Puerto Rico was distributed to local communities, I heard disturbing reports from constituents in Arkansas that overstocked disaster food owned by FEMA was going to waste and FEMA was unable to redistribute that food.

I request that you please address the following questions:

1. What is FEMA’s official policy for the purchase and sale of manufactured trailers intended as temporary housing after natural disasters?

2. How many trailers has FEMA auctioned off in the last five fiscal years, at what average cost, and how long after initial purchase by FEMA?

3. What is FEMA’s official policy for the redistribution of food that is no longer needed in the originally intended disaster area?

4. Did any food intended for disaster-stricken areas after the 2017 hurricanes have to be thrown away?

5. How much food intended for disaster areas was able to be redistributed to other communities?

Last year’s hurricane season was the costliest in our nation’s history, and when our country is currently more than $20 trillion in debt our federal agencies must be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.

Should you require any additional authority from Congress to address these concerns, I urge you to notify us as soon as possible. I thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to working with you to address this important issue.


French Hill

Member of Congress