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Statement by the American Red Cross on GAO Report

The recently-issued US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report confirmed that the American Red Cross has well-established plans in place to coordinate with FEMA in responding to disasters. Also, as GAO noted, our coordination with FEMA is consistent with several best practices that are “benefitting” our coordination efforts.

The Red Cross believes there are several already existing mechanisms in place to evaluate our disaster response that provide considerable oversight of the American Red Cross. It is important to remember that the American Red Cross is not a federal agency, and our disaster relief activities are almost entirely funded by our generous donors – not the government – and carried out by a largely volunteer workforce.

Existing evaluation mechanisms include:

  • The American Red Cross Modernization Act of 2007 that already authorizes GAO to review Red Cross involvement in federal government programs and activities. The Act also required creation of an Office of the Ombudsman that reports annually to 10 Congressional committees.
  • The IRS reviews data on expenditures, revenues and governance that Red Cross is required to submit annually to maintain our tax exempt status; the Department of Defense audits Red Cross annual financial statements; FEMA and the State Department monitor our services in the rare cases in which they fund those services through grants.
  • The Red Cross participates in regular after-action reviews convened by federal, state and local government partners, and we also receive real-time feedback during disasters from local and state emergency management. We welcome additional opportunities to participate in these assessments and after-action reviews.
  • The Red Cross is led by a Board of Governors of which all but one member is independent. The Board regularly reviews and monitors our disaster readiness and performance.
  • The Red Cross uses procedures and metrics to continuously evaluate and improve our services so we can better serve the needs of individuals and families in disasters, including conducting satisfaction surveys of the people we help and after-action reviews of major disasters.
  • The Red Cross is continuously monitored by nonprofit watchdogs such as Charity Navigator and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which consistently give us strong ratings on transparency and other measures.
  • Contact: Public Affairs Desk, Telephone: (202) 303-5551, FOR MEDIA ONLY

    America Red Cross statement from August 17, 2015: American Red Cross Responds to Latest NPR and ProPublica Stories

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.