Benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is a standardized, systematic way to measure all of the significant direct benefits of a mitigation project against the costs. A BCA always involves looking at damages and losses twice: before mitigation (the “as-is” situation) and after mitigation. All mitigation grant program applications require a completed Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) to be submitted with the application for funding.
FEMA provides BCA software to help sub-applicants determine the cost-effectiveness of their proposed mitigation projects. To be eligible for federal funding assistance through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grants programs, a mitigation project must have a benefit-cost ratio of 1.0 or greater according to FEMA’s BCA software.
BCA Toolkit Version 6.0
On July 29, 2019, FEMA announced the release of the new version of the Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) Toolkit, Version 6.0, available to the public, and as of the release date may be used for project applications. Version 6.0 features an improved user experience and 80% reduction in data inputs compared to the previous version (V5.3). To utilize Version 6.0, open the Microsoft Excel file at this link below and install the Microsoft Excel Add-in by following these directions:
- Go to: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/179903
- With Microsoft Excel open, go to the Insert tab, in the Add-ins section, click on My Add-ins.
- Select the Store option and search for FEMA Benefit-Cost Analysis Calculator. Click Add.
- You should now see the FEMA BCA V6.0 icon in the upper right-hand ribbon bar.
- To launch the Toolkit, click on the FEMA BCA V6.0 button. A sidebar will open.
- Click Open Calculator to begin your BCA.
- The add-in window will open and take you to the Home screen. From here you can start a new project by clicking Add Project.
- To save your work, click “Finish” on the second screen, close the add-in window, and save the Excel file, renaming it if desired.
- Please also see the Version 6.0 Release Notes at the above link for important information.
If users need additional assistance with installing the Excel Add-in for the Benefit Cost Analysis Calculator, Microsoft provides detailed step-by-step directions here:
If a user does not have Microsoft Excel installed, they can use Microsoft Excel online for free and will still be able to install the add-in.
What’s New in the BCA Toolkit Version 6.0:
- Excel-based platform
- Compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems
- Streamlined user interface and improved user experience
- Reduction in number of manual-input data fields
- Improved help content
- Improved report formatting
- Google Maps-based address lookup and standardization
Major Differences from Version 5.3:
- Version 5.3 has the Damage Frequency Assessment (DFA) methodology as a separate module. In Version 6.0, the DFA methodology is built into all the hazard modules.
- Version 6.0 does not allow the user to attach files within the Toolkit or alert the user that required documentation for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant applications is missing.
- Version 5.3 saves all the user’s projects in one location. Version 6.0 saves projects within the .xlsx file, allowing the user to define their own file management protocol.
- For more information, please see the BCA Toolkit 6.0 User Guide.
- Users should continue to use Version 5.3 for seismic building retrofit projects (structural and non-structural). Seismic retrofit projects for non-buildings (i.e. utilities or roads/bridges) or other seismic retrofit projects performed using either the Historical or Professional Expected Damages approach may be analyzed in Version 6.0. An update to Version 6.0 is planned for release later in 2019 that will include an improved methodology for seismic building retrofit BCAs.
- There is no way to import or export projects between Versions 5.3 and 6.0.
- For more information, and a list of known issues, please see the BCA Toolkit 6.0 User Guide.
FEMA has developed a BCA Toolkit 6.0 User Guide for this new BCA version release, available for download: FEMA Benefit-Cost Analysis Toolkit Version 6.0 User Guide (May 2019)
Additional Software Documents:
FEMA Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) Toolkit 6.0 Release Notes (First Issuance)
FEMA Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA) Toolkit 6.0 Release Notes (July 31, 2020)
Version 5.3 of the BCA toolkit has been phased out and can no longer be used in application submissions, or in any mitigation project sub-application already been awarded by FEMA that require an updated BCA in support of a scope of work modification or a cost overrun. If there are any questions related to the BCA Version 5.3 Toolkit, please contact MEMA's Mitigation Unit.
Links to Hurricane Hazard and Earthquake Hazard datasets are provided on FEMA’s main BCA page (www.fema.gov/benefit-cost-analysis) and are required when performing analysis for hurricane wind retrofit projects or seismic retrofit projects.
For assistance installing or using the BCA Toolkit, please contact the BCA Helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-855-540-6744. For more information about FEMA’s BCA program, see www.fema.gov/benefit-cost-analysis.
Check MEMA’s Training Registration System to find out when BCA classroom training is available. The training courses IS-276.A: Benefit Cost Analysis Fundamentals , the 2019 version of the Introduction to Benefit-Cost Analysis course (E/L 0276), and IS-277.A: Benefit Cost Analysis Entry Level are also available online.
In addition, FIRM and FIS trainings are available online, including: IS-273: How to Read a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and IS-274: How to Use a Flood Insurance Study (FIS).
MEMA BCA Training Workshop/Webinar information can be found on the MEMA Hazard Mitigation Technical Assistance and Webinars/Briefings page.
Additional Resources for
Ecosystem Service Benefits
In September 2015, FEMA released three new activities eligible for the Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) programs: Aquifer Storage and Recovery, Floodplain and Stream Restoration, and Flood Diversion and Storage, known as the Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities (CRMA). FEMA has developed BCA tools to calculate benefits for drought mitigation and/or ecosystem services for mitigation projects. In addition, FEMA developed pre-calculated benefits for cost effectiveness evaluation of soil stabilization, flood diversion, and reforestation projects in wildfire impacted areas to support expedient implementation of post-wildfire mitigation actions. BCA tools:
Additional Resources for
Precipitation Frequency Data
The NOAA’s National Water Center has released updated precipitation frequency estimates for Massachusetts. These estimates (published in Atlas 14, Volume 10) are used in many infrastructure design and planning activities, and are available for download through the Precipitation Frequency Data Server (PFDS).
The Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), through a joint collaboration, have developed a web-based platform that allows users access to updated extreme rainfall analyses for New York and New England. The website provides a subset of users access to extreme rainfall statistics through the most recent year (i.e., there will be an automatic update of the rainfall statistics on an annual basis). In future years, these updates will provide the necessary information for considering subsequent updates and provide a readily available source of updated statistics. The website can be found at: http://precip.eas.cornell.edu/ .
Available through the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), a federal research laboratory under NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, the Multi-Radar/Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system was developed to produce severe weather, transportation, and precipitation products for improved decision-making capability to improve hazardous weather forecasts and warnings, along with hydrology, aviation, and numerical weather prediction. The MRMS project utilizes an automated system that rapidly and intelligently integrates data from multiple radars and radar networks, surface observations, numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, and climatology to generate seamless, high spatio-temporal resolution mosaics. The MRMS Operational Product Viewer displays a rolling archive of real-time operational MRMS products dating back to October 2020.
For help with FEMA’s benefit-cost analysis, call the BCA Helpline at 1-855-540-6744 or email email@example.com.
Additional Resources for
What Is a Benefit?
The benefit of a mitigation project is simply the difference in expected damage and loss before and after the project is completed. Benefits of a proposed mitigation project can be sorted into four main categories:
|Avoided Physical Damage||Buildings
|Avoided Loss-of-Function Costs||Displacement costs for temporary quarters
Loss of rental income
Loss of business income
Disruption time for residents
Loss of public services
Economic impact of loss of utility services
Economic impact of road/bridge closures
|Avoided Emergency Management Costs||Emergency operations center costs
Evacuation or rescue costs
Temporary protective measure costs
Debris removal and cleanup costs
Other management costs