Since it emerged in its current form in 1973, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has done little to meet its supposed purpose of protecting the nation from flood damage. Instead, it has encouraged development in flood-prone areas, endangered lives, and damaged the environment. Moreover, the program’s existence has retarded the emergence of purely private flood insurance and imposed billions of dollars in costs. As of late 2008, the program was almost $18 billion in debt to the U.S. Treasury and had no feasible way to pay it back. Partial privatization of the program would require three steps: improved flood mapping, rate changes, and a free market auction of policies within the current program.