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Scientific and Technical Experts Wanted to Resolve Flood Map Challenges

Tuesday, October 20, 2015  
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The National Institute of Building Sciences is seeking qualified scientific and technical professionals from the public, private and academic sectors to serve on Scientific Resolution Panels (SRPs) responsible for recommending to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resolutions to community challenges to FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program flood maps.

FEMA has contracted with the Institute to provide communities with a resolution process that is deemed neutral by both the challenging community and the federal agency. The SRPs will perform independent reviews of the scientific and technical data used to develop flood elevations.

Interested professionals must have expertise in one of the following fields or a related field:

  • Coastal storm and hydraulic engineering
  • Coastal geotechnical engineering
  • Water resource engineering (surface water hydrology, open-channel flow hydraulics, hydrologic engineering)
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Alluvial fan engineering
  • Levee analysis and mapping
  • FEMA guidelines and standards for flood risk analysis and mapping

They must also have expertise with riverine, lacustrine, coastal flood hazard, surveying, topographic information, hydrologic analysis, hydraulic analysis, coastal analysis or other pertinent experience applicable to the development of flood elevations and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

When a community challenges the proposed FEMA flood elevations for a particular area, the community or FEMA may request, during the regulatory appeal period, that an SRP be convened. The Institute will develop, from its SRP cadre of experts, a pre-qualified shortlist of scientific experts based on the technical challenges of each community protest. The community will then select three experts from the list and FEMA will select two experts, creating a Panel of five members.

The SRP is responsible for reviewing FEMA's flood hazard data and the flood hazard data submitted by the community to determine which studies are technically and scientifically more accurate. The Panel will then render a written decision that denies or accepts the alternative flood elevations submitted by the community. The SRP’s decision will serve as the recommendation to the FEMA Administrator for resolution of the conflicting data.

If approved as SRP cadre members, experts may be called to serve on one to two Panels per year, averaging the equivalent of two to five days’ effort spread over three months. Panels will conduct deliberations via teleconference, with no travel involved. Panel members will be compensated for their services.

The Institute encourages professionals with a degree in one of the identified fields and a minimum of 10 years’ proven experience to apply to become an SRP cadre member.

To learn more about the Scientific Review Panel initiative and to fill out an application to serve, visit

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