While FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) has made progress in modernizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) system, a new report from the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said the new system is struggling with data quality issues.

Based on that review, the OIG issued three recommendations to help FIMA improve data quality, and FIMA concurred with those.

The Nov. 2 report explained that in 2019 FIMA migrated from its legacy NFIP system to PIVOT (not an acronym). OIG explained that the system is expected to contain reliable policies and claims data to accurately track flood-affected properties and set flood insurance premiums.

The migration has improved FIMA’s ability to timely process policies and claims data, enhance reporting capabilities, and provide more reliable policyholder address validation. OIG further noted that while the PIVOT system is still in the deployment stage, it has already increased customer satisfaction, improved tracking of properties, and led to better informed NFIP management.

However, despite the benefits of the new system, the transition to PIVOT has not resolved longstanding data reliability issues. OIG said this is because FIMA simply migrated the vast majority of its historical legacy data – including errors – into the PIVOT system. Additionally, the OIG asserts that FIMA deployed PIVOT without “adequate controls to prevent potentially erroneous transactions from being recorded in the system.” The report said that these issues remained unresolved because “FIMA prioritized system modernization over time-consuming efforts to fix historical data errors.” Additionally, OIG says that FIMA also transitioned to the new system before supporting vendor systems were ready to process all data changes. That decision may have hindered NFIP operations, “given the high potential error rate during the initial months of PIVOT operation,” OIG says.

“Prompt action to resolve these challenges will help FIMA improve data integrity and facilitate more informed management, thereby enabling NFIP stakeholders to more accurately track flood-affected properties and set flood insurance premiums,” the OIG says.

To that end, the report offered three recommendations to improve data quality in the PIVOT system and educate stakeholders about existing NFIP data quality issues limiting the use of the data.

The OIG’s recommendations are:

  • “We recommend the Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation prepare a strategy to hold vendors accountable for correcting transaction errors that occurred during permissive mode to improve NFIP data quality in the PIVOT system.
  • We recommend the Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation incorporate a data quality assessment in its PIVOT operational reviews or other formal reports about progress of the NFIP modernization effort.
  • We recommend the Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation develop a strategy to educate stakeholders about the data issues present in the historical NFIP data and publish caveats around the use of those data.”
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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.