Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA)

Benefit-cost analysis (BCA) is a standardized, systematic way to measure all of the significant direct benefits of a mitigation project against the costs.

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.

BCA Overview

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 5.3

On January 10, 2017, FEMA released the Benefit Cost Analysis Tool version 5.3.0. Version 5.3.0 replaces previous versions of the BCA Tool and is available for use to demonstrate cost-effectiveness for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs. Users must download the Benefit Cost Analysis Version 5.3.0 Setup Standard Zip File, extract the contents into a folder on the user's computer and then run BCAV5_3_0_Setup_Standard.exe to install. This version release includes updated Hurricane Hazard and Earthquake Hazard datasets. Links to those hazard data sets are provided below and are required when performing analysis for hurricane wind retrofit projects or seismic retrofit projects.

Some major features of Version 5.3.0 include:

  • Updated all standard economic values utilized in analysis
  • Creation of the Aquifer Storage and Recovery module for drought mitigation
  • Incorporation of Climate Resilient Mitigation Activities
  • Expansion of Ecosystem Service Benefits
  • Updated Tornado recurrence information in the saferoom module
  • Updated Hurricane Wind and Earthquake Hazard data sets

BCA Training

Check MEMA’s Training Registration System to find out when BCA classroom training is available. The training course IS-276: Benefit Cost Analysis Fundamentals is also available online.

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:

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).

For help with FEMA’s benefit-cost analysis, call the BCA Helpline at 1-855-540-6744 or email bchelpline@fema.dhs.gov.

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
Contents
Infrastructure
Landscaping
Site Contamination
Vehicles
Equipment
Avoided Loss-of-Function Costs Displacement costs for temporary quarters
Loss of rental income
Loss of business income
Lost wages
Disruption time for residents
Loss of public services
Economic impact of loss of utility services
Economic impact of road/bridge closures
Avoided Casualties Deaths
Injuries
Illnesses
Avoided Emergency Management Costs Emergency operations center costs
Evacuation or rescue costs
Security costs
Temporary protective measure costs
Debris removal and cleanup costs
Other management costs

 

Additional Resources for What Is a Benefit?

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