oversight

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Workforce Planning and Training Could Be Enhanced by Incorporating Strategic Management Principles

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-04-26.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States Government Accountability Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Requesters




April 2012
             FEDERAL
             EMERGENCY
             MANAGEMENT
             AGENCY
             Workforce Planning
             and Training Could Be
             Enhanced by
             Incorporating
             Strategic Management
             Principles




GAO-12-487
                                               April 2012

                                               FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
                                               AGENCY
                                               Workforce Planning and Training Could Be
Highlights of GAO-12-487, a report to
                                               Enhanced by Incorporating Strategic Management
congressional requesters                       Principles



Why GAO Did This Study                         What GAO Found
FEMA, within the Department of                 The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking steps to
Homeland Security (DHS), employs a             integrate its workforce planning and training efforts across the agency consistent
workforce of over 18,000 people, who           with critical success factors for strategic human capital management such as
are responsible for leading and                initiating working groups to coordinate related activities, but its efforts are in the
supporting the nation in preparing for,        early stages. Until recently FEMA’s efforts related to workforce planning have
protecting against, responding to,             been independently conducted by various offices across the agency. In January
recovering from, and mitigating all            2012, FEMA human capital officials reported that they began integrating
hazards. GAO reported in 2007 and              agencywide workforce planning initiatives underway by other program offices,
2011 that changes in FEMA's
                                               such as FEMA’s Qualification System, which was developed to establish
workforce, workload, and composition
                                               qualification requirements for FEMA’s workforce for deployment purposes,
have created challenges in FEMA’s
ability to meet the agency's varied
                                               among other things. Additionally, FEMA’s Human Capital Office plans to release
responsibilities and train its staff           a directive that, according to officials, will address the need for integrating the
appropriately. GAO was asked to                agency’s training efforts consistent with critical success factors for strategic
review FEMA’s workforce planning and           human capital management. Having integrated workforce planning and training
training efforts. This report addresses:       could help FEMA ensure that it has the properly sized and skilled workforce to
the extent to which FEMA has (1)               effectively meet its mission. However, the effectiveness of these integration
integrated its workforce planning and          efforts is dependent upon FEMA following through with its plans and it is,
training efforts, (2) incorporated             therefore, too early to assess their impact.
strategic management principles into
                                               FEMA has taken steps to incorporate some strategic management principles into
these efforts, and (3) systematically
gathered workforce and training data to        its workforce planning and training efforts but could incorporate additional
inform its human capital decisions.            principles to ensure a more strategic approach is used to address longstanding
GAO reviewed relevant documentation            management challenges. Specifically, FEMA’s leadership has demonstrated
that describes FEMA’s agencywide               commitment to effectively plan for and train its workforce, but has not established
workforce planning and training efforts,       specific long-term goals, such as integrating agencywide training efforts, or
such as the agency’s strategic plan,           quantifiable annual performance measures for these efforts. Such goals and
reviewed and assessed FEMA’s                   metrics could help ensure accountability for FEMA’s workforce planning and
strategic planning documents, and              training. Further, FEMA’s workforce planning and training could be enhanced by
interviewed DHS and FEMA program               establishing lines of authority for these efforts. For example, FEMA’s Human
and regional office officials.                 Capital Office is responsible for providing leadership and direction for the
                                               agency’s human capital programs, but officials said that they have little authority
What GAO Recommends                            over workforce planning efforts across the agency. Identifying lines of authority
GAO recommends that FEMA: identify             could help provide a strategic focus to FEMA’s workforce planning and training
long-term quantifiable mission-critical        and ensure the agency is held accountable for the success of these efforts.
goals; establish a time frame for
                                               FEMA has not developed processes to systematically collect and analyze
completing the development of
quantifiable performance measures;
                                               agencywide workforce and training data that could be used to better inform its
establish lines of authority for               decision making. Specifically, the contractor who conducted a March 2010
agencywide workforce planning and              baseline assessment of FEMA’s workforce reported that they gathered workforce
training efforts; and develop systematic       data from three different databases to conduct their analysis, noting that
processes to collect and analyze               conflicting data from these databases had to be resolved to make the information
workforce and training data. DHS               useable for their analysis. Additionally, FEMA has taken steps to track training
concurred with all recommendations.            information, but its tracking processes do not provide a reliable account of all
                                               training activities of FEMA employees. Developing systematic processes to
                                               collect and analyze its agencywide workforce and training data could help FEMA
                                               make more informed decisions.
View GAO-12-487. For more information,
contact David C. Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or
maurerd@gao.gov.

                                                                                         United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                      1
               Background                                                                   7
               Incorporating Strategic Management Principles Could Enhance
                 FEMA’s Workforce Planning and Training Efforts                           24
               FEMA Could Benefit from More Systematically Collecting and
                 Analyzing Workforce and Training Data                                    33
               Conclusions                                                                39
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                       40
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                         41

Appendix I     Strategic Human Capital Management Critical Success Factors                45



Appendix II    FEMA Program Office Responsibilities and Description of Initiatives
               Related to Workforce Planning                                              46



Appendix III   FEMA Program Office Responsibilities Related to Workforce Training         47



Appendix IV    Comments from the Department of Homeland Security                          48



Appendix V     GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                      51



Tables
               Table 1: Databases that Maintain FEMA Workforce Information                34
               Table 2: FEMA Information Systems Used for Collecting and
                        Tracking Training                                                 36
               Table 3: Strategic Human Capital Management Critical Success
                        Factors                                                           45


Figures
               Figure 1: Overview of FEMA’s Workforce, Fiscal Years 2005, 2008,
                        2012                                                                9



               Page i                          GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Figure 2: FEMA Organizational Chart                                                       11
Figure 3: FEMA Program Offices’ Responsibilities and Workforce
         Planning Initiatives                                                             17
Figure 4: FEMA Program Offices’ Workforce Training
         Responsibilities                                                                 20




Abbreviations

CORE                        Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery
                            Employees
DAE                         Disaster Assistance Employees
DHS                         Department of Homeland Security
FEMA                        Federal Emergency Management Agency
FQS                         FEMA Qualification System
Homeland Security Institute Homeland Security Studies and Analysis
                            Institute
Human Capital Office        Office of Chief Component Human Capital
                            Officer
Post-Katrina Act            Post-Katrina Emergency Management
                            Reform Act of 2006




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Page ii                                 GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   April 26, 2012

                                   Congressional Requesters

                                   The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), within the
                                   Department of Homeland Security (DHS), employs a workforce of over
                                   18,000 people, who are responsible for leading and supporting the nation
                                   in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of
                                   preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation to prepare
                                   for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
                                   FEMA’s workforce includes permanent staff as well as short-term and
                                   long-term temporary staff who require a variety of specialized skills. In the
                                   aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Congress passed the Post-Katrina
                                   Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (Post-Katrina Act),
                                   expanding FEMA’s mission and responsibilities. 1 Among other things, the
                                   Post-Katrina Act required FEMA to develop a strategic human capital plan
                                   that includes an assessment of the critical skills and competencies of
                                   FEMA’s workforce and provide an action plan that includes workforce
                                   planning strategies and program objectives to train employees. 2

                                   As we have previously reported, changes in FEMA’s workforce, workload,
                                   and composition have created challenges in the agency’s ability to meet
                                   its changing responsibilities and train its staff appropriately even as
                                   FEMA’s ability to successfully meet its mission of preparing for,
                                   responding to, and recovering from all hazards has been tested as never
                                   before. 3 In 2011, FEMA responded to more disasters than any other year
                                   in its history. Specifically, during fiscal year 2011, FEMA responded to
                                   124 declared major disasters and emergencies, helping thousands of
                                   individuals and communities reduce the economic loss and human
                                   suffering associated with disasters. For example, tornadoes devastated



                                   1
                                    The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 was enacted as Title VI of
                                   the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2007, Pub. L. No. 109-295, 120
                                   Stat. 1355 (2006).
                                   2
                                       5 U.S.C. § 10102.
                                   3
                                    See GAO, Budget Issues: FEMA Needs Adequate Data, Plans, and Systems to
                                   Effectively Manage Resources for Day-to-Day Operations, GAO-07-139 (Washington,
                                   D.C.: Jan. 19, 2007); GAO, FEMA: Action Needed to Improve Administration of the
                                   National Flood Insurance Program, GAO-11-297 (Washington, D.C.: June 9, 2011).




                                   Page 1                                GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
the town of Joplin, Missouri, and severely impacted the Southeast region,
while Hurricane Irene affected 14 states and more than 35 million people
along the East Coast. This environment increases the importance of
FEMA effectively identifying the appropriate size and skills of its
workforce. Recognizing these challenges, FEMA’s administrator identified
workforce planning and training as one of the agency’s five priorities for
fiscal years 2012 through 2016 in its strategic plan. A key component of
the agency’s continuing evolution is the Administrator’s goal of ensuring
that, in addition to their day-to-day responsibilities, every FEMA employee
is fully prepared to be deployed as a part of the national disaster
workforce to more fully embrace the agency’s core mission and meet
FEMA’s goal to address the needs of survivors within 72 hours, and
restore basic services and community functionality within 60 days.

We have previously reported on the challenges FEMA faces in
conducting strategic workforce planning and training activities. For
example, in 2007 we reported that FEMA needed adequate data, plans,
and systems to effectively manage resources for its day-to-day
operations. 4 Specifically, we reported that FEMA was conducting its
workforce planning from the bottom up, office by office, and this approach
was likely to result in workforce plans that meet the immediate needs of
individual offices rather than produce an integrated, long-term strategy for
the entire agency. We also noted that FEMA lacked human capital
strategies, such as succession planning and a coordinated training effort,
which are integral to managing resources. We recommended that FEMA
apply attributes of effective workforce planning, including establishing
strategic direction, assessing the number and skill sets of its workforce,
conducting succession planning, and developing training requirements. 5
To address this recommendation, in 2008 FEMA issued its Strategic
Human Capital Plan. More recently, in June 2011 we reported that FEMA
faced challenges, including the lack of effective collaboration between
program and support offices, and strategic human capital planning related
to Post-Katrina Act requirements. 6 As a result, we recommended that
FEMA develop a comprehensive workforce plan according to the Post-
Katrina Act that identifies agency staffing and skills requirements,



4
    GAO-07-139.
5
    DHS did not comment on this recommendation.
6
    GAO-11-297.




Page 2                                 GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
addresses turnover and staff vacancies, and analyzes FEMA’s use of
contractors. FEMA concurred, and in responding to this recommendation,
reported that it had acquired a contractor to conduct a baseline
assessment of its workforce to inform the agency’s future workforce
planning efforts. We discuss this baseline assessment later in this report.

In addition, our prior work on strategic human capital management across
the federal government has identified long-standing concerns in this area.
For example, in 2001 we designated strategic human capital
management as a high-risk issue and reported that the government’s
management of people—its human capital—was the critical missing link
in reforming and modernizing the federal government’s management
practices. 7 Since that time, the federal government has made progress in
addressing its human capital challenges and we have, therefore,
narrowed the scope of this high-risk area to focus on the most significant
challenges that remain to close current and emerging critical skills gaps in
vital areas such as acquisition, foreign language capabilities, and oil and
gas management. 8 In June and December 2011, DHS provided us with
letters documenting actions taken and planned to address its human
capital challenges, including a lack of integrated strategies, requirements,
capabilities, and resources as well as a lack of integrated functional
policies, procedures and internal controls. Specifically, DHS described its
strategy to transform the department and address the root causes that
contributed to our initial high-risk designation of implementing and
transforming DHS. However, we believe that the strategy could be
strengthened by, for example, DHS more consistently reporting on
available resources and corrective actions as well as establishing
measures and report on progress made for all initiatives. These changes,
if implemented and sustained, provide a path for DHS to address this
high-risk area. Nevertheless, in March 2012 we reported that in many
instances, DHS had more work ahead to fully implement the department’s
strategy and address its human capital challenges. 9




7
    GAO, High Risk Series: An Update, GAO-01-263 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 2001).
8
    GAO, High Risk Series: An Update, GAO-11-278 (Washington, D.C.: Feb. 2011).
9
  GAO, Department of Homeland Security: Continued Progress Made Improving and
Integrating Management Areas, but More Work Remains, GAO-12-365T (Washington,
D.C.: Mar. 1, 2012).




Page 3                                  GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
As a tool for addressing human capital challenges governmentwide, we
have previously identified a model of strategic human capital
management, which describes strategic human capital planning as a
cornerstone and identifies critical success factors, including the need for
the integration of human capital approaches and data-driven human
capital decisions. 10 We have also identified strategic management
principles that incorporate elements of results and accountability to
facilitate long-term strategic management.

Due to FEMA’s ongoing strategic workforce planning challenges, you
asked us to review FEMA’s workforce planning and training efforts. This
report assesses the extent to which FEMA has: (1) integrated its
workforce planning and training efforts consistent with strategic human
capital planning critical success factors; (2) incorporated strategic
management principles into these efforts; and (3) systematically gathered
workforce and training data to inform its human capital decisions.

To assess the extent to which FEMA has integrated its workforce
planning and training efforts, we reviewed relevant documentation that
describes FEMA’s agencywide and regional workforce planning efforts,
such as the Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute’s
(Homeland Security Institute) FEMA Workforce Baseline Assessment
issued in March 2010. 11 We also reviewed documentation on FEMA’s
current and planned training efforts, including a report issued by FEMA’s
Leadership Training and Development Working Group that documents
training limitations and planned efforts to address these limitations. We
compared FEMA’s workforce planning and training efforts against our
previously identified critical success factors for strategic human capital
management. 12 We also reviewed relevant documentation on DHS’s
workforce planning and training guidance to its components, including the
DHS Workforce Planning Guide, and assessed the extent to which



10
 GAO, A Model of Strategic Human Capital Management, GAO-02-373SP (Washington,
D.C.: Mar. 15, 2002).
11
  The Homeland Security Institute is a federally funded research and development center
that provides independent analysis of homeland security issues. Specifically, the
Homeland Security Institute provides government the expertise to conduct cross-cutting
mission analysis, strategic studies and assessments, development of models that baseline
current capabilities, among other efforts.
12
     GAO-02-373SP.




Page 4                                GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
FEMA’s workforce planning and training efforts are in alignment with this
departmental guidance. We interviewed officials from various FEMA
program offices, including those from the Office of the Chief Component
Human Capital Officer (Human Capital Office), the Incident Workforce
Management Office, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Office of
Policy and Program Analysis, the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer,
the Emergency Management Institute, and the Training, Exercise, and
Doctrine Office to discuss their roles in workforce planning and training
efforts and how their efforts were integrated on an agencywide level.
Further, we interviewed and obtained documentation on workforce
planning and training efforts from FEMA officials in Region IV—selected
because it is one of the agency’s largest regions—to obtain a regional
perspective on the integration of these efforts. 13 While we cannot
generalize the information we obtained from FEMA officials in Region IV,
it provides important insights. In addition, we interviewed analysts from
the Homeland Security Institute assisting FEMA with its workforce
planning efforts, to obtain information on the integration of this
contractor’s work with other efforts under way across the agency. We also
interviewed officials from the DHS Office of the Chief Human Capital
Officer, including the Chief Learning Officer, to discuss its oversight and
guidance to its component agencies related to workforce planning and
training to ensure alignment with the department.

To assess the extent to which FEMA has incorporated strategic
management principles, we reviewed and assessed FEMA’s strategic
planning documents, including its Strategic Human Capital Plan, 2008-
2012, and its fiscal years 2009 and 2010 Human Capital Operational
Plans to determine FEMA’s approach for its workforce planning and
training efforts. We compared FEMA’s ongoing and planned workforce
planning and training efforts against strategic management principles we
have previously identified. We also interviewed officials from FEMA
program offices, including those from the Human Capital Office, the
Incident Workforce Management Office, and the Office of Policy and
Program Analysis to determine the extent to which these officials were
taking steps to incorporate such principles, including clearly identifying
lines of authority for the agency’s workforce planning and training efforts.



13
   Obtaining comprehensive information on the workforce planning and training efforts
under way at FEMA’s regional offices would have required site visits to each of the 10
regions.




Page 5                                  GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
To assess the extent to which FEMA has systematically gathered
workforce and training data to inform its human capital decisions, we
reviewed relevant documentation related to the agency’s historical efforts
to gather such data, including our previous reports and FEMA
documentation such as the FEMA Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2011-
2014. We reviewed the methodology and findings of the Homeland
Security Institute’s FEMA Workforce Baseline Assessment and a report
by the National Academy of Public Administration, and interviewed
analysts from the Homeland Security Institute regarding the scope,
methodology, and findings of their assessment. 14 We determined that the
scope and methodology of the Homeland Security Institute assessment
and the National Academy of Public Administration audit were sufficient
for us to rely on the results. We also interviewed officials from the FEMA
program offices that play a role in tracking workforce and training data,
including the Human Capital Office, the Incident Workforce Management
Office, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, the Office of the Chief
Procurement Officer, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and the
Emergency Management Institute. We also interviewed Region IV FEMA
officials to obtain information on the regions’ role in gathering workforce
and training data. We compared FEMA’s efforts to systematically gather
workforce and training data against our previously identified critical
success factors for strategic human capital management. 15

We conducted this performance audit from August 2011 through April
2012 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objectives.




14
 National Academy of Public Administration, FEMA’s Integration of Preparedness and
Development of Robust Regional Offices: An Independent Assessment (Washington,
D.C.: Oct. 2009).
15
     GAO-02-373SP.




Page 6                               GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Background
Overview of FEMA’s   FEMA’s workforce is comprised of a combination of permanent full-time
Workforce            employees (permanent employees) and temporary employees.
                     Permanent employees conduct a wide variety of specialized functions
                     including mitigation activities, such as flood mapping and managing the
                     National Flood Insurance Program; preparedness activities, such as
                     national capabilities assessments; and managing nationwide grant
                     programs, among other things. According to FEMA, the agency obligated
                     $630,649,000 to fund the salaries and benefits of its permanent
                     employees for fiscal year 2012. 16 FEMA’s temporary employees are
                     primarily dedicated to disaster assistance. Disaster-related temporary
                     employees with 2- to 4-year appointments are referred to as Cadre of On-
                     Call Response/Recovery Employees (CORE), and Disaster Assistance
                     Employees (DAE), who perform disaster-related work for 2-year
                     intermittent appointments. 17 While permanent employees are hired under
                     provisions of Title V of the U.S. Code that govern competitive service,
                     disaster relief employees are hired and funded under the authority of the
                     Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. 18
                     Funding for DAEs and COREs varies on an annual basis based on the
                     number of declared disasters.

                     As of March 2012, FEMA reported that it had a workforce of over 18,000
                     employees, of which approximately 26 percent—or over 4,700—are
                     permanent. The remaining 74 percent are comprised of COREs, DAEs,



                     16
                        According to FEMA, the agency obligated $558,097,000 to fund the salaries and benefits
                     of its permanent employees in fiscal year 2011.
                     17
                        CORE positions are temporary, excepted service appointments with specific “Not to
                     Exceed” dates. The appointments are two and four-year terms and are typically renewed if
                     there is ongoing disaster work and funding is available. DAE’s are activated in direct
                     response to a disaster declaration to support the work of FEMA at the disaster site. FEMA
                     hires DAEs as 2-year, intermittent employees who are deployed as needed for
                     emergencies and/or disasters.
                     18
                        See 42 U.S.C. § 5149(b)(1). The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency
                     Assistance Act, as amended, known as the Stafford Act, constitutes the statutory authority
                     for most federal disaster response activities, especially as they pertain to FEMA and
                     FEMA programs. This act authorizes the President to issue a “major disaster” declaration
                     to provide a wide range of federal aid to states determined to be overwhelmed by
                     hurricanes or other disasters. 42 U.S.C. § 5170. FEMA is tasked with coordinating the
                     response under the Stafford Act.




                     Page 7                                 GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
and other employees. 19 From fiscal years 2005 through March 2012,
FEMA’s permanent workforce has increased by approximately 128
percent (from 2,100 to 4,792) and its disaster-related temporary
employees (COREs and DAEs) have increased by approximately 146
percent (from 5,458 to 13,418 employees). Figure 1 illustrates the
changes in FEMA’s permanent, DAE, and CORE workforce during fiscal
years 2005, 2008, and 2012.




19
  As of February 2011, FEMA employed approximately 991 other employees, including
other government employees on assignment to FEMA and full-time and part-time FEMA
staff with a set end date of employment. FEMA also employed approximately 7,892
contractors.




Page 8                              GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Figure 1: Overview of FEMA’s Workforce, Fiscal Years 2005, 2008, 2012




Approximately 70 percent of FEMA’s permanent workforce is located at
its headquarters and the remaining 30 percent are assigned to FEMA’s
10 regional offices. 20 FEMA disaster response employees also work at



20
  Approximately 60 percent of those working for headquarter components are located
outside of the immediate Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. FEMA’s 10 regional offices
are located in Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Denton, Texas; Denver,
Colorado; Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; New York, New York; Oakland,
California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Seattle, Washington.




Page 9                                GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
temporary disaster response/recovery sites established across the
country. FEMA consists of six primary components: Response and
Recovery, Federal Insurance and Mitigation, Protection and National
Preparedness, United States Fire Administration, Regional Operations,
and Mission Support. See figure 2 for FEMA’s organizational chart, as of
January 2012.




Page 10                         GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Figure 2: FEMA Organizational Chart




                                      Note: The bolded program offices above indicate those organizations that play a role in FEMA’s
                                      workforce planning and training efforts.


                                      Several program offices within FEMA play a role in the agency’s
                                      workforce planning and training efforts:


                                      Page 11                                     GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                 •      Within FEMA’s Mission Support Bureau in headquarters, the Human
                        Capital Office is responsible for providing leadership and direction to
                        all stakeholders, including FEMA headquarters and regional offices on
                        human capital programs, products, and services.
                 •      Also within the Mission Support Bureau, the Office of the Chief
                        Procurement Officer is responsible for overseeing FEMA’s acquisition
                        of services.
                 •      Within the Office of the Administrator, the Office of Policy and
                        Program Analysis is responsible for reviewing proposed policies and
                        programs for agencywide consistency and compliance with
                        Departmental guidance.
                 •      Under the Office of Response and Recovery, the Incident Workforce
                        Management Office is responsible for the deployment of personnel,
                        the management of the surge capacity forces, disaster response
                        cadre management, and the implementation of the FEMA
                        Qualification System (FQS). 21
                 •      The Training, Exercise, and Doctrine office, also within the Office of
                        Response and Recovery, develops training requirements and
                        agencywide disaster-related doctrine, and funds the development and
                        revision of FQS related disaster workforce training, among other
                        functions.
                 •      The Emergency Management Institute, under Protection and National
                        Preparedness, serves as the agency’s principle component in
                        developing and delivering emergency management training—
                        including courses for employees to certify under FQS—and creates
                        and manages courses using an accredited curriculum management
                        system.

FEMA Workforce   The Post-Katrina Act required FEMA to develop, and update annually
Strategies       through 2012, a strategic human capital plan that includes an assessment
                 of the critical skills and competencies required for its workforce. 22 In May
                 2008, FEMA issued its Strategic Human Capital Plan, 2008-2012, which
                 presented, among other things, the agency’s plans for a restructured
                 workforce and improvements to its training programs. For example, under
                 the initiative to train and professionally develop its workforce, the plan


                 21
                    Prior to June 2011, the Incident Workforce Management Office was named the Disaster
                 Workforce Division under the Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer. FQS
                 is a FEMA initiative intended to credential its workforce. FQS is discussed in further detail
                 later in this report.
                 22
                      5 U.S.C. § 10102.




                 Page 12                                  GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                           states that FEMA will build a professional leadership program that
                           identifies and prepares future leaders to fill projected vacancies. The
                           agency is currently drafting an updated strategic human capital plan and
                           expects to issue it by the end of fiscal year 2012. FEMA also issued
                           human capital operational plans for fiscal years 2009 and 2010 (and
                           issued final reports to Congress on these plans), which FEMA is using to
                           meet the Post-Katrina Act requirement for annual updates to the strategic
                           plan, but did not issue an operational plan for fiscal year 2011. According
                           to FEMA officials, the plan is under review by DHS and the agency will
                           submit a report to Congress on the plan. However, FEMA did not provide
                           a time frame for when the fiscal year 2011 operational plan will be
                           submitted.


Critical Success Factors   Our model of strategic human capital management identifies critical
for Effective Workforce    success factors, including the need for the integration and alignment of
Planning and Training      human capital approaches and data-driven human capital decisions, for
                           effective agency planning. 23 We designed this model based on the human
Programs
                           capital practices of leading public and private organizations to help
                           agency leaders manage their people and integrate human capital
                           considerations into daily decision making to help achieve program results.
                           See appendix I for additional details on the cornerstones and critical
                           success factors identified in our model.

                           High-performing organizations identify their current and future human
                           capital needs, including the appropriate number of employees, the key
                           competencies and skills mix for mission accomplishment, and the
                           appropriate deployment of staff across the organization, and then create
                           strategies for identifying and filling gaps. Our work has shown that
                           attributes of effective workforce planning include coordinating and
                           integrating efforts across the organization to develop, communicate, and
                           implement a workforce plan that is tailored to address workforce gaps and
                           improve the contribution of critical skills and competencies needed for
                           mission success. 24 Effective organizations identify and invest in the needs


                           23
                            GAO-02-373SP. While our model includes aligning agencies’ human capital approaches
                           with current and emerging needs, this attribute is associated with higher levels of strategic
                           human capital planning. Reflective of FEMA’s actions in this area, we focused our review
                           on FEMA’s efforts to integrate their workforce planning and training efforts.
                           24
                            GAO, Human Capital: Key Principles for Effective Workforce Planning, GAO-04-39
                           (Washington, D.C.: Dec.11, 2003).




                           Page 13                                  GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                                    of its workforce through its strategic and annual planning and ensure that
                                    these strategies are fully integrated. Attributes of effective training
                                    programs also include developing training goals and related performance
                                    measures that are consistent with an agency’s overall mission, goals, and
                                    culture. 25 Similarly, DHS has issued guidance calling for its component
                                    agencies to develop workforce plans that identify anticipated workforce
                                    needs including action plans with strategies, performance measures, and
                                    targets to meet those needs.

                                    In addition, we have previously reported that maximizing the value of
                                    human capital is a function not just of specific actions, but of cultural
                                    transformation. 26 To achieve such transformation, the development and
                                    integration of strategic management principles as part of an overall
                                    management and accountability framework can provide an agency with
                                    tools to shape not only long-term strategic management, but also
                                    management infrastructure and controls needed to support organization
                                    transformation initiatives in the day-to-day business of an agency. 27
                                    Specifically, these strategic management principles are

                                    •      demonstrating top leadership commitment to change;
                                    •      identifying long-term, mission-critical goals through a re-invigorated
                                           strategic planning process tied to serving Congress;
                                    •      developing annual goals and a system for measuring progress; and
                                    •      establishing individual accountability and commensurate authority for
                                           achieving results.
FEMA Is Working to Integrate        FEMA is taking steps to integrate its workforce planning efforts to help
Its Workforce Planning and          ensure the agency has the properly sized and skilled workforce to
Training Efforts, but Its Efforts   effectively meet its mission, but until recently, its efforts related to
Are in the Early Stages             workforce planning have been independently conducted by various
                                    offices across the agency. FEMA also has efforts under way to meet the
                                    different types of training needs of its workforce; however, the agency has
                                    taken limited steps to integrate its training efforts. As FEMA is in the early


                                    25
                                       GAO, Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing Strategic Training and Development Efforts
                                    in the Federal Government, GAO-04-546G (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 2004).
                                    26
                                         GAO-02-373SP.
                                    27
                                     GAO, Architect of the Capitol: Management and Accountability Framework Needed to
                                    Lead and Execute Change, GAO-02-632T (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 17, 2002) and
                                    Architect Of The Capitol: Management and Accountability Framework Needed for
                                    Organizational Transformation, GAO-03-231 (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 17, 2003).




                                    Page 14                               GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                     stages of its integration efforts, it will be important for the agency to follow
                     through with these efforts to help ensure they address long-standing
                     management challenges associated with workforce planning and training.


Workforce Planning   FEMA has begun to integrate its workforce planning efforts across the
Efforts              agency. Integrating workforce planning efforts is an important step for
                     helping to ensure that the agency has the appropriate number of staff to
                     effectively meet FEMA’s mission of preparing for, responding to, and
                     recovering from all hazards. However, as we have previously reported,
                     and found during the course of our review, until recently FEMA’s efforts
                     related to workforce planning have been independently conducted by
                     various offices across the agency with little coordination. For example, in
                     2007 we reported that FEMA had not set a strategic vision for its
                     workforce planning efforts and therefore these efforts were not being
                     conducted in accordance with attributes of effective workforce planning. 28
                     Specifically, we found that FEMA was conducting its workforce planning
                     from the bottom up, office by office, and this approach was likely to result
                     in workforce plans that meet the immediate needs of individual offices
                     rather than produce an integrated, long-term strategy for the entire
                     agency. As a result, we recommended that FEMA apply the key principles
                     of strategic workforce planning, including establishing a strategic direction
                     and assessing the number of employees and critical skills FEMA needs,
                     among other things. DHS did not comment on this recommendation.

                     Since this review, FEMA has reported actions to address our finding. For
                     example, the conference report accompanying the DHS appropriations
                     act for fiscal year 2010 provided that a total of $2 million was for FEMA to
                     partner with the Homeland Security Institute to conduct a study of its
                     human capital resources. 29 FEMA’s Human Capital Office is overseeing
                     the institute’s efforts to conduct a baseline assessment of the number,
                     responsibilities, and locations of FEMA’s workforce. According to FEMA
                     officials, as of January 2012, the agency expended approximately $1.4
                     million for this effort, and the results of the baseline assessment will be
                     used to compare FEMA’s current workforce to its desired workforce and
                     assess the gaps in workforce skills and competencies. FEMA human
                     capital officials reported that this assessment and resulting analysis,


                     28
                          GAO-07-139.
                     29
                          H.R. Rep. No. 111-298, at 101-02 (2009) (Conf. Rep.).




                     Page 15                                  GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
referred to as the Strategic Workforce Planning Initiative, will provide a
basis for developing an agencywide workforce plan to address the
agency’s future workforce needs for disaster-related and day-to-day
operations. According to FEMA officials, this initiative will ultimately result
in a workforce plan for the agency, but they could not provide time frames
for when such a plan would be issued.

Also, the Office of Policy and Program Analysis has developed a Force
Planning Model, which is designed to provide an estimate of the number
of temporary and permanent employees needed to respond to a variety of
potential disaster scenarios. Although the data behind the Force Planning
Model was not initially considered or used by the contractor assessing
FEMA’s current workforce, FEMA’s Human Capital Office and its Office of
Policy and Program Analysis are working to more closely coordinate their
efforts. Specifically, when we initially met with FEMA’s Human Capital
Office in September 2011, they said they had limited awareness of the
model and its potential usefulness for their workforce planning efforts.
Since then, human capital officials reported that they have been
coordinating more closely with the Office of Policy and Program Analysis
in further developing the Force Planning Model. In January 2012, FEMA
human capital officials also noted that the results of the Force Planning
Model will define the size of the future workforce. See figure 3 and
appendix II for a description of FEMA program office responsibilities and
initiatives related to workforce planning.




Page 16                            GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
 Interactive graphic
                                       Figure 3: FEMA Program Offices’ Responsibilities and Workforce Planning Initiatives
Instructions: Roll over blue highlighted organizations below
to see individual program office’s responsibilities and workforce
planning initiatives.




                                                                                Administrator
                                                                            Deputy Administrator                                       Protection and National
                                Chief of Staff
                                                                                                                                           Preparedness

     Office of Chief                                               Office of Chief           Office of External
        Counsel                                                   Financial Officer
                                 Executive                                                         Affairs                                                National
                                                                                                                           Grant Programs
    DHS Direct Report            Secretariat                                                                                                            Preparedness
                                                                                                                             Directorate
                                                                                                                                                         Directorate
                                                                  Office of Equal            Office of Regional
                              National Advisory                        Rights                    Operations
    DHS Center for                                                                                                                                    National Training,
                                   Council
    Faith Based and                                                                                                                                    Education, and
     Neighborhood                                                                                                                                         Exercise
     Partherships                                                Office of Disability        Office of Policy
    Serves all of DHS                                              Integration &                   and
                                                                                                                                                                 Emergency
                                                                   Coordination             Program Analysis
                                                                                                                                                                 Management
                                                                                                                                                                   Institute

                                                                 Law Enforcement
                                                                     Advisor                                              National Continuity         Office of National
                                                                                                                              Programs                      Capital
                                                                                                                              Directorate               Coordination




                                                          U.S.                                            Federal Insurance                   Office of
                        Mission Support
                                                   Fire Administration            Regions I-X               and Mitigation                  Response and
                            Bureau
                                                                                                           Administration                     Recovery



         Office of Chief              Office of Chief                                                                      Response                          Recovery
         Adminstrative                 Information                                                                         Directorate                       Directorate
             Officer                      Officer

                                                                                                                        Training, Exercise,
       Office of Chief                Office of Chief                                                                   and Doctrine Office
       Procurement                  Component Human
           Officer                    Capital Officer
                                                                                                                       Incident Workforce
                                                                                                                       Management Office
                        Office of Chief
                        Security Officer

                                                                                                                  Office of Federal            Office               Logistics
                                                                                                                     Coordinating         of Readiness and        Management
                                                                                                                  Officer Operations         Assessment            Directorate


                                                           Source: GAO analysis of FEMA information.




                                                        Page 17                                                  GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
For disaster response operations, the Incident Workforce Management
Office, under the Office of Response and Recovery, is taking steps to
integrate FQS with other workforce planning efforts under way across the
agency. According to FEMA, the agency developed FQS to: (1) document
the disaster response functions and capabilities of its permanent and
temporary employees; (2) establish consistent and fair qualification
requirements for all FEMA disaster workforce positions; and (3) ensure a
qualified disaster workforce based on performance standards, among
other things. 30 While FEMA human capital officials said in September
2011 that they had little involvement with the implementation of FQS, in
January 2012 they reported that they had begun participating in an
agency wide working group dedicated to the FQS to help ensure its
integration with other agency wide workforce planning efforts. Further, in
January 2012 FEMA also reported on the relationship between FQS and
the Force Structure effort, led by the Office of Recovery and Response,
which is based on the Force Planning Model. According to FEMA, the
Force Structure effort will use the data provided by the Force Planning
Model to set target disaster staffing levels by position, based on historical
data, to ensure that the agency has enough trained and experienced
disaster personnel to accomplish its mission.

Further, FEMA’s Human Capital Office and the Office of the Chief
Procurement Officer within the Mission Support Bureau are coordinating
to integrate their efforts related to the agency’s implementation of DHS’s
Balanced Workforce Strategy, which is aimed at determining the proper
balance of contractors and federal employees needed to support daily
operations. 31 Specifically, FEMA human capital officials said in
September 2011 that they were not involved with the agency’s
implementation of the Balanced Workforce Strategy and in November
2011, they stated that data gathered by the Office of the Chief
Procurement Officer were not used for their workforce planning efforts. In
January 2012 human capital officials stated that they did not have policies
or procedures in place to ensure integration of agency wide workforce
planning initiatives, but they were working with the Office of the Chief
Procurement Officer to determine how to integrate the Balanced



30
  The Incident Workforce Management Office assumed responsibility in June 2011 for
FEMA’s longstanding efforts to implement an agencywide credentialing program for its
disaster workforce, now referred to as FQS.
31
     DHS announced its Balanced Workforce Strategy in July 2010.




Page 18                                 GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                   Workforce Strategy and Strategic Workforce Planning Initiative efforts. 32
                   These actions, if implemented effectively, could help ensure an integrated
                   approach for FEMA’s workforce planning efforts; however, it is too early
                   to assess the extent to which these efforts are effective in meeting overall
                   agency workforce needs as they have been recently initiated and are
                   dependent upon FEMA following through with its plans.


Training Efforts   FEMA has efforts under way to meet the different types of training needs
                   of its workforce; however, the agency has taken limited steps to integrate
                   its training efforts. We identified four broad categories of training FEMA
                   conducts: (1) disaster response-related training, (2) Human Capital Office
                   required training, (3) leadership development training, and (4)
                   professional development training. See figure 4 and appendix III for a
                   description of the various program offices with training responsibilities
                   throughout FEMA.




                   32
                        We discuss the authority of the Human Capital Office in more detail later in this report.




                   Page 19                                    GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
 Interactive graphic
                                       Figure 4: FEMA Program Offices’ Workforce Training Responsibilities
Instructions: Roll over blue highlighted organizations
below to see individual program office’s workforce
training responsibilities.




                                                                                Administrator
                                                                             Deputy Administrator                                  Protection and National
                                Chief of Staff                                                                                          Preparedness

     Office of Chief                                               Office of Chief           Office of External
        Counsel                                                   Financial Officer
                                 Executive                                                         Affairs                                           National
                                                                                                                        Grant Programs
    DHS Direct Report            Secretariat                                                                                                       Preparedness
                                                                                                                          Directorate
                                                                                                                                                    Directorate
                                                                  Office of Equal            Office of Regional
                              National Advisory                        Rights                    Operations
    DHS Center for                                                                                                                               National Training,
                                   Council
    Faith Based and                                                                                                                               Education, and
     Neighborhood                                                                                                                                    Exercise
     Partherships                                                Office of Disability         Office of Policy
    Serves all of DHS                                              Integration &                    and
                                                                                                                                                              Emergency
                                                                   Coordination              Program Analysis
                                                                                                                                                              Management
                                                                                                                                                               Institute

                                                                 Law Enforcement
                                                                     Advisor                                          National Continuity        Office of National
                                                                                                                          Programs                     Capital
                                                                                                                          Directorate              Coordination




                                                          U.S.                                            Federal Insurance               Office of
                        Mission Support
                                                   Fire Administration            Regions I-X               and Mitigation              Response and
                            Bureau
                                                                                                           Administration                 Recovery



         Office of Chief              Office of Chief                                                                   Response                          Recovery
         Adminstrative                 Information                                                                      Directorate                       Directorate
             Officer                      Officer

                                                                                                                    Training, Exercise,
       Office of Chief                Office of Chief                                                               and Doctrine Office
       Procurement                  Component Human
           Officer                    Capital Officer
                                                                                                                   Incident Workforce
                                                                                                                   Management Office
                        Office of Chief
                        Security Officer

                                                                                                              Office of Federal             Office               Logistics
                                                                                                                 Coordinating          of Readiness and        Management
                                                    Requirement for all program offices.                      Officer Operations          Assessment            Directorate


                                                           Source: GAO analysis of FEMA information.




                                                        Page 20                                            GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
•    Disaster Response-Related Training: The Incident Workforce
     Management Office coordinates disaster response-related training
     within FEMA, including developing the budget and recommending
     allocations of training funds from the disaster relief fund. 33
     Specifically, the Incident Workforce Management Office leads the
     coordination of disaster response-related training efforts and the
     Training, Exercise, and Doctrine office, another office in the Office of
     Response and Recovery, creates and validates training requirements
     for disaster response occupations developed under FQS. 34 In
     implementing this system, FEMA identified 322 separate position task
     books for responding to disasters. 35 According to FEMA officials, for
     each of these task books FEMA developed qualifications sheets that
     list the requirements to become qualified in each of the 322 positions.
     For instance, through the FQS process, FEMA developed the position
     task book for a hazardous materials specialist. Skills required to
     qualify for this position include demonstrating proper use of personal
     protective equipment, knowledge of decontamination procedures, and
     operation of monitoring and detection equipment, among other things.
     The Administrator’s new Disaster Workforce Transformation, initiated
     in December 2011, is intended to focus on training and certifying the
     entire workforce for incident management and incident support
     positions in the field. However, during a February 2012 meeting with
     FEMA officials overseeing the implementation of the Disaster
     Workforce Transformation, they stated that the agency had not yet
     decided how disaster response-related training would be revised to
     reflect the workforce transformation because it was too soon in the
     process to make such decisions.




33
  The disaster relief fund is appropriated funding separate from FEMA’s salaries and
expenses account, through which most of FEMA’s other training efforts are funded. For
fiscal year 2012, the Incident Workforce Management Office provided $6 million for
disaster response training courses conducted by the Emergency Management Institute for
all FEMA employees. Prior to fiscal year 2012, FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute
was responsible for coordinating disaster response training.
34
   According to FEMA, the Training, Exercise, and Doctrine office is responsible for funding
the development and revision of FQS-related courses. Also, FEMA officials stated that
disaster response-related training will consist mainly of FQS-related training once FQS is
fully implemented.
35
 Position task books are issued to employees in training for disaster-related occupations
and describe all activities, minimal skill sets, and tasks that are necessary for successful
performance in a given position.




Page 21                                  GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
•    Human Capital Office Required Training: The Human Capital Office
     is responsible for ensuring that all permanent employees and COREs
     complete training required by statute, DHS, and FEMA. 36 In March
     2012, FEMA’s Human Capital Office announced the mandatory
     courses required of its permanent employees and COREs for
     calendar year 2012. These courses are required to be taken on a
     schedule established by the agency. Specifically, FEMA has
     developed a series of more than 20 training courses covering topics
     such as ethics, safety orientation, and information security. 37
     According to human capital officials, the Human Capital Office must
     report this training information to DHS throughout the year. The
     Human Capital Office collects training records from various sources,
     including training management information systems and data calls
     from individual program offices.
•    Leadership Development Training: FEMA has not yet identified the
     office responsible for leadership development training, but in
     November 2011, the agency designated an individual within the
     Protection and National Preparedness Directorate to create a
     leadership development training program. 38 Specifically, this individual
     is using the findings gathered during an internal review conducted by
     a FEMA working group on the current leadership development
     activities, limitations, and suggestions to develop this program. This
     individual is coordinating with other FEMA officials to develop time
     frames for completing development of the program and fully
     implementing it. A key component of FEMA’s leadership developing
     training is to be the Future Leaders Program, creating an annual
     cohort of nonsupervisory employees who are participating in a year-
     long pilot program. According to FEMA officials, the Future Leaders


36
  In January 2012 DHS released its Orientation Facilitation Guide to its components,
containing the core topics that must be included in every new employee orientation effort.
These topics include, among other things, an orientation of the department and ethics
training.
37
  FEMA has also developed a list of 15 mandatory courses that all employees must take
in order to deploy to a disaster. Several mandatory deployment courses overlap with
required training for all permanent employees and COREs, such as basic records
management, diversity awareness, and disaster-related training including disaster
management training. However, required training must be taken by permanent employees
and COREs regardless of whether they deploy. Further, the Human Capital Office is not
responsible for ensuring that employees are deployable, which is the responsibility of
disaster occupation managers and field office training officials.
38
 According to FEMA, the agency has committed $2 million through the end of fiscal year
2013 to fund leadership development efforts.




Page 22                                 GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
    Program will be one mechanism to provide development training for
    employees at different levels of experience and pay grades in the
    agency. FEMA also established a Leadership Development Council in
    February 2011 to, among other things, prepare potential candidates to
    fill leadership positions. Until a comprehensive leadership
    development program is fully developed, FEMA plans to continue to
    use courses and offerings already in place to provide some leadership
    tools to prospective and current managers.
•   Professional Development Training: FEMA also offers training
    opportunities to permanent employees through opportunities provided
    by or approved by their respective offices. According to FEMA
    officials, professional development training is independently defined
    by each program office and the training may be offered from several
    sources. For instance, FEMA training officials stated that an individual
    employee may identify a need for training on a particular topic through
    his or her individual development plan. In addition to individuals
    requesting training, a program office may sponsor training. For
    example, a program office with budgeting responsibilities may
    sponsor a class on federal appropriations law. Such training may be
    conducted either within FEMA—for example at the Emergency
    Management Institute—or from an external source, such as another
    federal agency, a conference, or a private sector organization.

FEMA has efforts under way to meet the different types of training needs
of its workforce, but the integration of these efforts has been limited,
although the Human Capital Office reported that it plans to implement a
policy to address the need for integration. Currently, different program
offices throughout FEMA are responsible for planning training activities.
For instance, two offices within the Office of Response and Recovery—
the Incident Workforce Management Office and the Training, Exercise,
and Doctrine Office—are responsible for the planning, development, and
implementation of disaster-response training. Moreover, the Emergency
Management Institute is responsible for, among other things, ensuring
that all disaster-response training meets the qualifications needed for
classes to be accredited, while the Human Capital Office ensures that
permanent employees and COREs take required training courses.
Further, every program office is separately responsible for managing
professional development training, and FEMA has not assigned planning
responsibilities for leadership development training to any program office.
In general, there is no one office or individual overseeing training
activities to ensure they are integrated throughout the agency.




Page 23                          GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                       According to human capital officials, the offices responsible for the
                       different types of training will need to integrate their planning and
                       development of training programs to respond to a new policy they plan to
                       implement. Doing so could help FEMA prioritize training funding and
                       ensure that the most important needs for developing mission-critical skills
                       and competencies are addressed first. Human capital officials said they
                       are drafting a new agencywide directive on employee training and
                       development to help standardize training employee efforts across the
                       agency. According to human capital officials, this directive will provide a
                       basis for prioritizing training management decisions for mission-critical
                       positions, and increase their oversight of agencywide training programs.
                       However, as of March 2012, this directive was still in draft form. This new
                       directive, if it appropriately addresses the need to integrate training efforts
                       across the agency, could help FEMA enhance the effectiveness of its
                       training. However, this outcome is contingent upon FEMA following
                       through with its plans to enhance its workforce training, and it is,
                       therefore, too early to assess the effectiveness of FEMA’s planned
                       actions.


                       FEMA efforts to integrate its workforce planning and training are positive
Incorporating          steps, but FEMA has not used a strategic approach to identify and
Strategic Management   mitigate longstanding management challenges in workforce planning and
                       training that impact the agency as a whole. Our work has shown that
Principles Could       incorporating strategic management principles can help provide
Enhance FEMA’s         accountability for producing results. We have previously reported that to
Workforce Planning     build the capability to lead and execute change, an agency should (1)
                       demonstrate top leadership commitment to change; (2) identify long-term,
and Training Efforts   mission-critical goals through its strategic planning process; (3) develop
                       annual goals and a system for measuring progress; and (4) establish
                       accountability and commensurate authority for achieving results. These
                       principles are also reflected in the Human Capital Assessment and
                       Accountability Framework issued by the Office of Personnel Management
                       in March 2006 that calls for human capital planning that includes
                       leadership, goals, objectives and strategies; a workforce plan; and
                       performance measures and milestones for annual assessments of




                       Page 24                            GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                        agencies’ human capital management for accountability in achieving
                        results. 39


Demonstrating Top       FEMA leadership’s continued commitment to effectively plan for and train
Leadership Commitment   its workforce is in alignment with attributes of effective workforce planning
                        and training and critical to the agency’s success in executing the agency’s
                        efforts in these areas. Our assessment of leading organizations’ success
                        in management reforms found successful leaders create processes and
                        systems within which to operate, but give managers the authority to
                        pursue their organizational goals while using those processes and
                        systems. They also integrate the implementation of separate
                        organizational improvement efforts into a coherent unified effort. The
                        commitment of FEMA’s leadership to enhancing and integrating
                        agencywide strategic workforce planning and training reflects these
                        principles in the agency’s strategic planning documents. For example, the
                        FEMA Administrator’s Intent for Building the FY 2012-2016 Future Year
                        Homeland Security Program, issued in February 2010, lays out the
                        agency’s priorities that include improving FEMA’s workforce capabilities
                        and notes that the integration between mission support activities, such as
                        human capital and procurement, must be improved, simplified, and
                        streamlined to better enable FEMA to execute the programs and policies
                        used to achieve its mission. The document calls for a unity of effort within
                        the agency to build, sustain, and improve its capabilities by ensuring that
                        responsibility and authority for its mission support programs is placed
                        appropriately. Similarly, the FEMA Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2011-
                        2014 states that FEMA must build, sustain, and improve its workforce and
                        develop its current and future leadership. The plan also identifies FEMA’s
                        ability to develop its workforce as the single most important driver of the
                        agency’s future success. Finally, FEMA’s Human Capital Office has
                        drafted a directive establishing a FEMA Human Capital Accountability
                        System intended to provide a systematic approach to overseeing human
                        capital operations agencywide, assess accountability results, and improve
                        performance on all aspects of human capital management policies,
                        programs, and activities. According to human capital officials, this
                        directive was expected to be finalized at the end of February 2012, but as
                        of March 2012, it was still in draft form.



                        39
                         Office of Personnel Management, Human Capital Assessment and Accountability
                        Framework (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 2006).




                        Page 25                             GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Identifying Long-Term,      As discussed above, FEMA has developed initiatives and defined related
Specific Mission-Critical   outcomes for the management of its workforce, but neither the current
Goals                       Strategic Human Capital Plan nor the current FEMA strategic plan identify
                            long-term, specific mission critical goals related to the agency’s on-going
                            workforce planning and training efforts. Specifically, the current Strategic
                            Human Capital Plan, issued in May 2008, has not yet been updated to
                            align with the FEMA Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2011-2014, issued in
                            February 2011. Rather, the Strategic Human Capital Plan is aligned with
                            the former version of the agency’s Strategic Plan, issued in January 2008.
                            In addition, the Strategic Human Capital Plan does not contain specific
                            quantifiable goals for its workforce planning and training efforts that reflect
                            the end result FEMA wishes to achieve. Further, the current FEMA
                            strategic plan does not provide mission critical goals specific to the
                            agency’s ongoing workforce planning and training efforts. In particular,
                            the FEMA Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2011-2014 documents four
                            initiatives for the agency—(1) foster a whole community approach to
                            emergency management nationally; (2) build the nation’s capacity to
                            stabilize and recover from a catastrophic event; (3) build unity of effort
                            and common strategic understanding among the emergency
                            management team; and (4) enhance FEMA’s ability to learn and innovate
                            as an organization. Related to each of these initiatives, FEMA outlines the
                            key outcomes it would like to achieve. For example, under its second
                            initiative FEMA reports that it will implement a performance-based
                            qualification requirements system for all FEMA personnel participating in
                            disaster response and recovery activities and a dynamic readiness
                            measurement system for FEMA teams and deployable assets. Under its
                            fourth initiative, FEMA states that it will create a collaborative
                            infrastructure to support learning and innovation across the emergency
                            management enterprise. However, the FEMA Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years
                            2011-2014 does not discuss how these initiatives will incorporate
                            agencywide workforce planning and training efforts under way, such as
                            the Strategic Workforce Planning Initiative or the development of a
                            leadership development program. In addition, the initiatives describe
                            broad goals that lack specificity to link their achievement to actual
                            performance. Such initiatives are related to the agency’s priorities of
                            improving workforce capabilities and human capital activities, as
                            documented in the FEMA Administrator’s Intent for Building the FY 2012-
                            2016 Future Year Homeland Security Program. According to FEMA
                            human capital officials, the agency is updating its Strategic Human
                            Capital Plan that will be in alignment with the agency’s broader Strategic
                            Plan, and may consider developing long-term, specific mission-critical
                            goals related to ongoing workforce planning and training efforts as part of
                            this updated Strategic Human Capital Plan. FEMA human capital officials


                            Page 26                           GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                          stated that they plan to issue the updated Strategic Human Capital Plan
                          by the end of fiscal year 2012.

                          We have previously reported that agencies can encourage greater use of
                          performance information by aligning agencywide goals and objectives. 40
                          We have also reported that agencies should develop associated
                          performance goals that are objective and quantifiable to allow a
                          comparison of programs’ actual results with the desired results. 41
                          Developing long-term mission critical goals is also one strategic
                          management principle. For example, FEMA’s strategic mission-critical
                          goals could include integrating agencywide training efforts or the effective
                          implementation of FQS within established time frames. The agency’s
                          efforts to update its Strategic Human Capital Plan provide FEMA with an
                          opportunity to identify and document long-term and specific mission
                          critical goals that reflect the agency’s current priorities for workforce
                          planning and training over the next four fiscal years and provide a road
                          map for meeting those goals. Until FEMA determines what it would like to
                          accomplish through its workforce planning and training efforts and
                          develops related goals, the agency will be limited in its ability to gauge its
                          success in these two areas.


Developing a System for   FEMA’s workforce planning and training efforts could also benefit from
Measuring Annual          the development of specific and quantifiable performance measures
Progress                  aligned with annual performance goals. FEMA’s Fiscal Year 2010 Human
                          Capital Operational Plan documents the agency’s strategic initiatives,
                          priorities, related deliverables, and target deadlines, but does not identify
                          outcome-oriented measures to assess the agency’s progress in meeting
                          its workforce planning and training goals. 42 For example, under its
                          Rightsizing the Agency Strategic Initiative, FEMA notes that it will conduct


                          40
                           GAO, Managing for Results: Enhancing Agency Use of Performance Information for
                          Management Decision Making, GAO-05-927 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 9, 2005).
                          41
                           GAO, Department of Energy: Further Actions Are Needed to Improve DOE’s Ability to
                          Evaluate and Implement the Loan Guarantee Program, GAO-10-627 (Washington, D.C.:
                          July 12, 2010).
                          42
                            Performance measures can be classified as output, process/input, or outcome oriented.
                          Output measures focus on the quantity of direct products and services a program delivers.
                          Process/input measures address the type or level of program activity an organization
                          conducts and the resources used by the program. Outcome measures offer information on
                          the results of the direct products and services a program has delivered.




                          Page 27                                GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
a bottom-up rightsizing analysis and discusses its Strategic Workforce
Planning Initiative as a related effort. However, the human capital
operational plan does not include measures for assessing the agency’s
progress in addressing this initiative. Similarly, under its training and
professional development of the workforce initiative, reported in its fiscal
year 2010 human capital operational plan, the agency states that building
a comprehensive leadership development program and integrating it with
agency succession planning is a priority for the agency. However, metrics
to gauge the agency’s progress in addressing this initiative were not
established in this plan. Further, more recent annual operational plans
have not been completed in a timely manner. For example, according to
FEMA human capital officials, as of March 2012, its annual human capital
operational plan for fiscal year 2011 was still in draft form and they and
they could not provide time frames for when the agency would issue an
operational plan for fiscal year 2012. Because the fiscal year 2011 human
capital operational plan was not issued in a timely manner, any measures
developed in association with this plan could not be used to gauge the
impact of their ongoing workforce planning and training efforts.

Developing quantifiable performance measures aligned with annual
performance goals could also help ensure that FEMA is held accountable
for addressing long-standing workforce challenges. For example, in 2007
we reported that FEMA lacked a business continuity plan for its day-to-
day operations, did not have guidelines on what constitutes a mission-
critical position, and had not conducted an assessment of what minimum
level of support is necessary. 43 As a result, we recommended that FEMA
develop business continuity plans for the day-to-day operations to ensure
that critical program functions are maintained at a sufficient level when
permanent employees are called to respond to a disaster. 44 We specified
that these plans should include clear guidelines on who holds a mission-
critical position at headquarters and, therefore, either cannot be deployed
for disaster-relief efforts or needs to have alternates designated to
provide backup in their absence. FEMA’s Strategic Human Capital Plan,
2008-2012 identified the development of continuity programs as one of
the agency’s core competencies to support the vision of FEMA, but the
agency’s annual operational plans did not establish related milestones or
measures, or identify which office(s) in FEMA were responsible for


43
     GAO-07-139.
44
     DHS did not comment on this recommendation.




Page 28                                GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
managing these programs. According to FEMA officials, the Office of
Policy and Program Analysis’ Force Planning Model calculates the
number of non-deployed employees needed to maintain agency
operations during a disaster and has developed guidelines on who holds
a mission-critical position at headquarters. However, FEMA has not
developed quantifiable performance measures that would hold the
agency responsible for accomplishing this task and has therefore not yet
identified those positions that either cannot be deployed for disaster-relief
efforts or needs to have alternates designated to provide backup in their
absence. Although FEMA’s Strategic Human Capital Plan, 2008-2012
specifically states that FEMA will analyze its occupational series to better
identify its mission critical positions, agency officials stated that
organizational and staffing changes have limited their ability to ensure
continued management focus on identifying these positions and
developing a business continuity plan. Without measures and milestones
for developing business continuity plans needed to effectively implement
the Administrator’s vision that every FEMA employee can be deployed,
the agency may face difficulties in achieving its fundamental strategic
goals.

As we have previously reported, leading organizations we have studied
that were successful in measuring their performance generally had
applied two practices. 45 First, they developed measures that were (1) tied
to program goals and demonstrated the degree to which the desired
results were achieved, (2) limited to the vital few that were considered
essential to producing data for decision making, (3) responsive to multiple
priorities, and (4) responsibility-linked to establish accountability for
results. Second, the agencies recognized the cost and effort involved in
gathering and analyzing data and made sure that the data they collected
were sufficiently complete, accurate, and consistent to be useful in
decision making. In its report on the results of its audit of FEMA’s human
resources operations, DHS’s Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer
recognized the need for FEMA to develop performance measures to
gauge the effectiveness of its human capital efforts, including those
related to its workforce planning and training efforts. In FEMA’s response
to this audit, the agency indicated that it has efforts under way to develop
performance measures. However, as of March 2012, the agency has yet
to complete this effort. According to standard program management



45
 GAO-02-632T.




Page 29                           GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                             principles, time frames or milestones should typically be incorporated as
                             part of a road map to achieve a specific desired outcome or result. 46 As
                             FEMA continues its efforts to provide annual updates on its
                             implementation of the Strategic Human Capital Plan through its
                             operational plans, establishing a time frame for developing quantifiable
                             performance measures could ensure that the agency is held accountable
                             for following through with this important effort. The development of these
                             metrics could help FEMA obtain more meaningful information from which
                             to gauge the effectiveness of its workforce planning and training efforts
                             and take corrective action, if needed.


Establishing
Accountability and
Commensurate Authority
Workforce Planning Efforts   According to its mission statement, FEMA’s Human Capital Office is
                             responsible for providing leadership and direction on human capital
                             programs and developing and managing policies, programs, and activities
                             designed to ensure the strategic management of FEMA’s workforce,
                             among other things. However, officials from the Human Capital Office told
                             us that their office has little authority over workforce planning efforts
                             across the agency because the agency does not require program and
                             regional offices to report on such efforts. Specifically, their office does not
                             have operational authority over program and regional offices to require
                             that they report on such efforts. As a result, despite FEMA’s efforts to
                             integrate its workforce planning, as discussed earlier, accountability and
                             commensurate authority have not been established to oversee the
                             implementation of these efforts.

                             In January 2012 the FEMA Deputy Administrator released a memo to
                             agency personnel documenting the Human Capital Office’s role and
                             responsibilities related to assigning many FEMA employees, including its
                             permanent staff, to either a disaster response or a disaster support
                             position within FQS. The Human Capital Office, in coordination with other
                             FEMA program offices, was delegated responsibility for, among other
                             things, issuing an interim directive requiring employees conducting hiring



                             46
                              The Project Management Institute, The Standard for Program Management© (Newton
                             Square, PA.: 2006).




                             Page 30                             GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                   interviews to explain and reiterate the agency’s vision using a set of
                   standard questions and briefing points. However, this memo does not
                   establish the authority of the Human Capital Office related to the
                   implementation and oversight of FQS or the extent to which FQS will
                   impact this office’s implementation of the Strategic Workforce Planning
                   Initiative. Rather, the memo documents tasks that the Human Capital
                   Office is required to complete, such as conducting an agencywide
                   inventory of all currently filled and vacant positions and identify those
                   positions and employees for which the office does not have a position
                   description.

                   In addition, during initial meetings with Human Capital Office officials in
                   September 2011, they stated that they were not overseeing the Office of
                   the Chief Procurement Officer’s implementation of the Balanced
                   Workforce Strategy or assessing its impact on agencywide workforce
                   planning efforts. During a follow-up meeting in January 2012, human
                   capital officials stated that their office planned to play a more active role in
                   the implementation of this strategy by overseeing the determination of the
                   agency’s contractor positions. However, according to FEMA human
                   capital officials, the agency has not established the authority of the
                   Human Capital Office related to FEMA’s on-going implementation of the
                   Balanced Workforce Strategy because the two offices have not
                   historically conducted their efforts in an integrated manner. Establishing
                   authority for agencywide workforce planning efforts could help ensure that
                   the agency is held accountable for addressing long-standing
                   management challenges, such as credentialing its disaster workforce and
                   developing a process to systematically track workforce data.

Training Efforts   Similarly, while FEMA’s Strategic Human Capital Plan identifies the need
                   for effective leadership, lines of authority for overseeing agencywide
                   training efforts have not been established. Specifically, while the Human
                   Capital Office oversees mandatory training for permanent employees and
                   CORE, human capital officials play a limited role in the development or
                   management of disaster-related training through their involvement in an
                   agencywide FQS working group. For instance, FEMA officials stated that
                   the Human Capital Office does not have any authority or oversight of the
                   FQS or the disaster-related training that will be required under this
                   system. Instead, the Incident Workforce Management Office and the
                   Training, Exercise, and Doctrine office under the Response Directorate
                   develop and manage disaster response-related training programs,
                   including leading the development and implementation of the FQS.
                   Further, individual program offices are responsible for managing their own
                   office-related professional development training activities, and human


                   Page 31                            GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
capital officials said they have limited visibility over what training activities
individual program offices have implemented and, therefore, cannot
ensure that these training activities are effectively prioritized to meet
agencywide training objectives. In addition, FEMA has not yet identified
an organization to lead the implementation of leadership development
training. Clearly establishing lines of authority from a central body to
those program offices involved in workforce training could help ensure
that the agency takes steps to address long-standing challenges, such as
tracking the training of its workforce to help prioritize resources.

Strategic management principles include establishing individual
accountability and commensurate authority for achieving results. We have
also previously identified establishing a leadership position as being in
alignment with attributes of effective training programs. 47 For instance, a
chief learning officer has an important role in maximizing an agency’s
investments in workforce development programs by conducting activities
such as developing training based on strategic initiatives, among other
things. According to FEMA human capital officials, the integration of
workforce training management functions into a centralized office is
complicated by FEMA’s mission to provide external training to state and
local first responders. In addition, human capital officials expressed
concern regarding their limited role in agencywide workforce training
activities. To address this concern, human capital officials stated that they
planned to issue a directive in January 2012 that would, among other
things, clarify roles and responsibilities with respect to employee training.
However, as of March 2012, this directive was not yet issued. Human
capital officials also said they have proposed that the agency establish a
chief learning officer or a similar position to oversee training efforts across
the agency, but FEMA management has not determined whether to
create such a position or identified the responsibilities for this position.
FEMA officials could not provide a time frame for when this position would
be created.

Clearly identifying lines of authority, through its Strategic Human Capital
Plan or other strategic planning documents, could provide a strategic
focus to FEMA’s workforce planning and training efforts and could help
ensure the agency is held accountable for the success of these efforts.
Until such action takes place, it will be difficult for FEMA to provide



47
 GAO-04-546G.




Page 32                             GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                         reasonable assurance that it is managing its workforce and training
                         programs in an integrated manner to help fulfill the mission of the agency.


                         FEMA has not developed an integrated process to systematically collect
FEMA Could Benefit       and analyze agencywide workforce and training data that could be used
from More                to better inform FEMA’s decision making.
Systematically
Collecting and
Analyzing Workforce
and Training Data

Workforce-Related Data   In June 2011, we reported that FEMA lacked accurate data on its current
                         staffing levels, largely because of technology issues, exacerbating the
                         difficulties of workforce planning. 48 Similarly, analysts from the Homeland
                         Security Institute responsible for conducting FEMA’s baseline
                         assessment said that to obtain a complete picture of FEMA’s workforce
                         they requested data from three different databases, which are
                         characterized in table 1, and developed a separate database to conduct
                         their analysis.




                         48
                              GAO-11-297.




                         Page 33                           GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Table 1: Databases that Maintain FEMA Workforce Information

Name                              Description
Automated Deployment Database     Maintained by the Incident Workforce Management Office, this database tracks all FEMA
                                  deployable employees, permanent and temporary. This database includes information such as
                                  employee name, contact information, job title, and specialty such as foreign language skills.
                                  Tracking also includes an employee’s cadre readiness, initial disaster site location (duty
                                  station), and training. According to FEMA officials, the Automated Deployment Database
                                  receives data feeds from the National Finance Center every two weeks.
Manpower                          Maintained by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, this database contains data on the
                                  number of authorized FEMA positions, including permanent and CORE positions. It also
                                  compiles each position’s associated data, such as program office, level, and staffing status.
                                  Data are entered manually into Manpower and are not integrated with any other database.
National Finance Center           FEMA’s workforce information within this database is maintained by the Human Capital Office.
                                  The National Finance Center provides employee-focused systems and services to federal
                                  organizations, which include personnel action processing and administration of payroll
                                  changes, among other actions.
                                       Source: GAO analysis of FEMA information.



                                       Within the baseline assessment, the Homeland Security Institute reported
                                       that FEMA did not have the integrated data needed to assess
                                       agencywide workforce needs, raising concerns that queries of existing
                                       FEMA workforce databases will, in some cases, produce questionable
                                       results. Specifically, for the baseline assessment, analysts from the
                                       institute identified inconsistencies in the spelling of FEMA’s job titles,
                                       outdated position descriptions, and differences between the numbers of
                                       employees paid compared to the number of authorized positions among
                                       FEMA’s three databases. As a result, the institute recommended that the
                                       agency develop a systematic process to collect and analyze such data to
                                       better inform its future workforce planning efforts. FEMA officials stated
                                       that they were aware of these inconsistencies and were working to
                                       resolve them as well as to improve their efforts to request workforce data
                                       from their existing databases. We also cited this issue in our 2007 report
                                       on FEMA’s management of resources for day-to-day operations. 49
                                       Specifically, we reported that FEMA lacked data on staffing levels
                                       because, in lieu of an integrated data collection process, the agency used
                                       multiple and disparate systems managed by different offices to gather
                                       data. As a result, we recommended that FEMA collect sufficient data to
                                       enable the agency to monitor its progress and support resource priorities
                                       for its operations. DHS did not comment on this recommendation.



                                       49
                                         GAO-07-139.




                                       Page 34                                     GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                        Similarly, in 2009 the National Academy of Public Administration reported
                        that a lack of a single system to track and account for the workforce,
                        complexities associated with tracking multiple workforce categories, and
                        problems with FEMA’s human resource management system, had
                        hindered efforts to obtain complete and accurate human capital data for
                        review. 50 According to the Academy, these shortcomings had significant
                        consequences in 2009, when FEMA established a hiring freeze because
                        the number of staff hired exceeded authorized levels. Acknowledging this
                        challenge, in March 2010, the FEMA Administrator noted that without
                        institutional controls, the agency was hiring at rates that could not be
                        sustained and there was no way to track these positions. FEMA,
                        however, has not yet developed a systematic process for collecting and
                        analyzing its workforce data to inform its workforce planning efforts.
                        Instead, FEMA officials stated that their current efforts to improve how
                        they request workforce data from the agency’s existing databases have
                        helped to resolve issues identified by the Homeland Security Institute.
                        Nonetheless, in our discussions with analysts from the institute, they said
                        that the challenges they identified in their baseline assessment will likely
                        continue to hinder FEMA’s ability to obtain accurate data until FEMA
                        develops a systematic process to collect and analyze workforce data. Our
                        model of strategic human capital management provides that decisions
                        involving human capital management and their link to agency results
                        should be routinely informed by complete, valid, and reliable data; and
                        that data gathered should be kept current. 51 The DHS Workforce Planning
                        Guide also notes that as part of component agencies’ workforce planning
                        efforts, they should collect and analyze data on their workforce
                        capabilities. Developing a systematic process to collect and analyze
                        workforce data could help provide FEMA with key information on its
                        workforce and help provide the agency with reasonable assurance that
                        staffing discrepancies do not occur again.


Training-Related Data   Similarly in 2007, we reported that while agencies need to invest
                        resources, including time and money, to ensure that employees have the
                        information, skills, and competencies they need to work effectively in a



                        50
                         National Academy of Public Administration, FEMA’s Integration of Preparedness and
                        Development of Robust Regional Offices: An Independent Assessment (Washington,
                        D.C.: Oct. 2009).
                        51
                         GAO-02-373SP.




                        Page 35                              GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                                        rapidly changing and complex environment, FEMA did not have an
                                        integrated system to track employee training and, therefore, no way of
                                        reliably tracking the cost of training, who has received it, or how
                                        successful it has been. 52 We recommended that FEMA, among other
                                        things, establish training requirements and tracking systems for its
                                        workforce, and that the agency collect sufficient data in a way that
                                        enables managers to monitor progress and support resource priorities for
                                        day-to-day operations that are linked to its disaster relief mission. DHS
                                        did not comment on this recommendation, but in 2008, FEMA issued its
                                        Strategic Human Capital Plan, 2008-2012, in part, to address it. However,
                                        the agency has not developed an integrated process to track and analyze
                                        information on agencywide training activities, including training
                                        completions and training costs. Specifically, we identified five different
                                        systems that collect information on various workforce training activities
                                        throughout FEMA, which are characterized in table 2.

Table 2: FEMA Information Systems Used for Collecting and Tracking Training

Name                                   Description of training information collected
FEMA Employee Knowledge Center         Collects information on FEMA intranet courses such as DHS and FEMA required courses,
System                                 as well as Emergency Management Institute-developed independent study courses. The
                                       FEMA Employee Knowledge Center system is also the primary interface for the FEMA
                                       workforce to take online courses, and provides information on some classroom training
                                       course schedules.
Independent Study Database System      Collects information on FEMA emergency management courses online, but offered
                                       outside of the FEMA Employee Knowledge Center system and available to the general
                                       public.
National Emergency Training Center     Collects applications and admissions information about classroom courses offered at
Admission System                       Emergency Management Institute-sponsored locations and used to determine attendance
                                       of courses.
Automated Deployment Database          Collects training records of courses taken while deployed to a disaster that were offered
                                       through the disaster field training office, which are then manually uploaded to the FEMA
                                                                                a
                                       Employee Knowledge Center system.
Training Information Access System     Collects and reports information on completed training, receiving intermittent updates of
                                       training records from the FEMA Employee Knowledge Center, the Independent Study
                                       Database, and the National Emergency Training Center Admission System.
                                        Source: GAO analysis of FEMA information.

                                        Note: aSome historical training records are not available through the Automated Deployment
                                        Database and may only be obtained through a disaster employee’s home regional occupational
                                        manager.




                                        52
                                             GAO-07-139.




                                        Page 36                                     GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
FEMA has taken steps to consolidate and collect training information
through the Training Information Access System, but the system does not
provide a comprehensive or accurate account of all training activities of
FEMA employees. For instance, Emergency Management Institute
officials responsible for system maintenance stated that these information
systems do not automatically download information with the Training
Information Access System, and may have information that the Training
Information Access System does not have to determine training
completion. A regional training manager also said that to report back to
FEMA headquarters on course completions, multiple databases must be
accessed and disaster employees’ occupational managers must also be
consulted to obtain an accurate account of an employee’s training record.
Further, although FEMA’s Human Capital Office must report on the
completion of courses required by the department, FEMA human capital
officials reported that they must access the Training Information Access
System or the FEMA Employee Knowledge Center and reach out to
FEMA’s program offices to obtain information on the completion of its
required courses. They added that a lack of policies and procedures for
tracking and analyzing training data limits their ability to verify the
accuracy or comprehensiveness of the information provided by other
program offices. In addition, none of the five information systems track
data related to the completion of leadership or professional development
courses.

Officials from the Emergency Management Institute stated that their office
is responsible for implementing upgrades to the FEMA Employee
Knowledge Center system, and the planned upgrades will collect some
professional development training information in the future. However,
these officials stated that FEMA does not have plans to collect
information related to leadership development with its current upgrades,
although officials have discussed intentions to use the FEMA Employee
Knowledge Center system to do this in the future. 53 Moreover, FEMA has
plans to implement a new information system for FQS, but the agency
has not yet developed plans to integrate this system with FEMA’s other
training information systems, citing that it was too early in the process to



53
   According to Emergency Management Institute officials, FEMA implemented its first
phase of the FEMA Employee Knowledge Center system updates in February 2012. They
stated that this update allows FEMA managers to track additional information related to
training, including the type of employee (permanent, DAE, or CORE) completing the
training.




Page 37                               GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
determine how such an integration may occur. However, until FEMA
develops a plan to integrate its systems that track and analyze training,
including the new information system for FQS, the agency will not have a
complete picture of how training programs across the agency are being
utilized, the effectiveness of these programs, or the costs associated with
this training.

In our prior work related to strategic workforce planning, we concluded
that staffing decisions, including needs assessments, should be based on
valid and reliable data. 54 We have also reported that developing and
implementing a training management information system is a key element
for the strategic management of training and an attribute of effective
training programs, and we note the importance of analyzing the results of
training provided. 55 Further, an integrated training management
information system can provide a more efficient means of ensuring
quality, administrative efficiency, economy, or adequacy to meet
requirements and can help agencies realize cost savings through
standardization of record keeping and simplified and more accurate
reporting on courses, certifications, educational attainment, costs, or
standards.

According to officials from FEMA’s Human Capital Office, DHS has efforts
under way to review its human capital systems across the department,
and FEMA is awaiting guidance from the department before developing
new processes, systems or consolidating databases. In the absence of
integrated systems, FEMA officials reported that they plan to continue
gathering workforce data from FEMA’s various databases to inform their
workforce planning efforts. While FEMA began implementing a phased-in
upgrade to the FEMA Employee Knowledge Center system in February
2012, Emergency Management Institute officials stated additional
enhancements to this system, such as collecting information on
completed leadership development training, could not be considered until
initial upgrades were complete. In February 2012, FEMA released a
directive that clarifies the role of FEMA’s Chief Information Officer and a
newly established governance board to lead and integrate FEMA’s
information technology role to consolidate duplicative investments and


54
   GAO, DHS Immigration Attorneys: Workload Analysis and Workforce Planning Efforts
Lack Data and Documentation, GAO-07-206 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 17, 2007).
55
     GAO-04-546G.




Page 38                               GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
              applications, among other things. Such an integrated approach could
              provide FEMA’s program offices the opportunity to develop systematic
              processes to track training information. Developing systematic processes
              to collect and analyze its agencywide workforce and training data could
              help the agency make more informed decisions about how to enhance its
              workforce planning and training efforts in an efficient and effective
              manner.


              FEMA’s ability to successfully meet its mission of preparing for,
Conclusions   responding to, and recovering from all hazards has been tested as never
              before as FEMA responded to more disasters than any year in its history
              in 2011. To effectively respond to disasters, FEMA personnel must make
              the best decisions under extreme pressure inherent during large-scale
              disasters. Agency personnel are also required to work in dynamic
              environments characterized by rapidly changing priorities and ground
              rules to help communities respond and recover from disasters.

              According to FEMA, the agency is taking steps to strengthen the nation’s
              capacity to respond to and recover from large-scale disasters, such as
              those experienced in 2011. Since the enactment of the Post-Katrina Act
              in October 2006, FEMA has attempted to address historical workforce
              planning and training challenges. For instance, FEMA’s Strategic
              Workforce Planning Initiative represents a commitment by the agency to
              determine the current workforce composition, what the workforce needs
              to be in the future, and how the gaps between the two may be overcome.
              Likewise, FEMA’s workforce training programs address the challenge of
              meeting agency needs for implementing uniform credentialing for disaster
              response and providing leadership development opportunities for all full-
              time employees. FEMA is also taking steps to integrate its workforce
              planning and training efforts across the agency. For example, FEMA has
              established a working group to facilitate the implementation of the FEMA
              Qualification System that provides a venue for stakeholders from across
              the agency to provide input on its implementation and the training
              programs associated with this system’s new disaster occupation.
              However, the effectiveness of these integration efforts is dependent upon
              FEMA following through with its plans and it is, therefore, too early to
              assess their impact.

              As FEMA moves forward with its efforts to integrate its workforce planning
              and training programs, these efforts could be better guided by
              incorporating strategic management principles, to help ensure the agency
              is held accountable for producing results. For example, as part of the


              Page 39                         GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                      agency’s work to update its Strategic Human Capital Plan, FEMA could
                      benefit from identifying and documenting long-term and quantifiable
                      mission critical goals that provide a road map for meeting the agency’s
                      intended outcomes of its workforce planning and training efforts. In
                      addition, establishing time frames for completing the development of
                      quantifiable performance measures related to the agency’s workforce
                      planning and training efforts could help ensure that FEMA is held
                      accountable for establishing measures that would assist the agency in
                      gauging its progress implementing these efforts. These measures could,
                      for example, be documented in its annual updates on its implementation
                      of the Strategic Human Capital Plan. Such metrics could help ensure that
                      the agency is held accountable for meeting the goals established for its
                      workforce planning and training efforts. Moreover, explicitly establishing
                      lines of authority among FEMA’s program offices could help the agency
                      ensure that workforce planning and training efforts address agency
                      needs, and that appropriate decision makers are held accountable for
                      implementing these programs in alignment with FEMA goals and
                      objectives.

                      Moreover, we continue to believe that FEMA’s workforce-related
                      decisions could be enhanced by developing systematic processes to
                      collect and analyze its agencywide workforce and training data. FEMA
                      acknowledges the value of developing such processes, but the agency
                      has not yet taken action to do so. Without systematically collecting and
                      analyzing workforce and training data, FEMA will be limited in its
                      understanding of its workforce and training needs.


                      To help ensure that FEMA’s agencywide workforce planning and training
Recommendations for   efforts are conducted in a comprehensive and integrated manner, we
Executive Action      recommend that the FEMA Administrator take the following three actions:

                      1. identify and document long-term and quantifiable mission critical goals
                         that reflect the agency’s priorities for workforce planning and training;
                      2. establish a time frame for completing the development of quantifiable
                         performance measures related to workforce planning and training
                         efforts; and
                      3. clearly establish lines of authority for agencywide workforce planning
                         and training efforts.

                      To better inform FEMA’s decision-making related to agencywide
                      workforce planning and training efforts we recommend that the FEMA




                      Page 40                          GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
                     Administrator develop systematic processes to collect and analyze
                     workforce and training data.


                     We provided a draft of this report to DHS for comment. We received
Agency Comments      written comments from DHS on the draft report, which are summarized
and Our Evaluation   below and reproduced in full in appendix IV. DHS concurred with the
                     report and recommendations and indicated that it is taking steps to
                     address the recommendations. In commenting on the draft report, DHS
                     described the efforts the department has underway or planned to address
                     our recommendations to improve FEMA’s workforce planning and training
                     efforts. The actions DHS reported are important first steps; however,
                     additional efforts are needed to help ensure that our recommendations
                     are fully implemented, as discussed below.

                     In regards to our recommendation that FEMA identify and document long-
                     term and quantifiable mission critical goals that reflect the agency’s
                     priorities for workforce planning and training, DHS agreed and stated that
                     FEMA is working with the Office of Personnel Management and other
                     federal agencies to establish an emergency management occupational
                     series that will assist FEMA in building its future workforce. Moreover,
                     DHS stated that FEMA’s updated Strategic Human Capital Plan for fiscal
                     years 2012 through 2016 will specifically identify goals that move the
                     agency closer to its priorities related to employees training. FEMA’s
                     stated plan for identifying goals that reflect its priorities for employee
                     training is a positive step. DHS’s response did not indicate whether FEMA
                     intends to identify long-term and quantifiable mission critical goals related
                     to its workforce planning efforts. Taking such action would more fully
                     address our recommendation.

                     Regarding our recommendation that FEMA establish a timeframe for
                     completing the development of quantifiable performance measures
                     related to workforce planning and training efforts, DHS agreed and stated
                     that in the spring of fiscal year 2012, the Homeland Security Institute will
                     report its FEMA workforce planning study findings that will include
                     strategies and recommendations to address identified workforce issues.
                     On the basis of these strategies and recommendations, FEMA will
                     establish timeframes for their implementation through the fiscal year 2012
                     through 2016 Strategic Human Capital Plan. The Strategic Human Capital
                     Plan for fiscal years 2012 through 2016 will have milestones and metrics
                     for addressing key workforce planning efforts and will align workforce
                     planning and training to DHS guidance and FEMA doctrine. FEMA’s
                     reported efforts to address workforce planning are noteworthy. In order to


                     Page 41                           GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
meet the full intent of our recommendation, FEMA should establish
timeframes for completing the development of quantifiable performance
measures related to workforce planning and training efforts.

In regards to our recommendation that FEMA clearly establish lines of
authority for agencywide workforce planning and training efforts, DHS
agreed and stated that in December 2010, FEMA on-boarded a Chief
Component Human Capital Officer, a Deputy Component Human Capital
Officer, and a Human Resources Officer who will have overall
responsibility for the FEMA workforce planning initiative. According to
DHS, in August 2011, the FEMA Human Capital Office reorganized to
create the Workforce Effectiveness Division responsible for coordinating
and managing this initiative. As a result of the Strategic Workforce
Planning Initiative, the Workforce Effectiveness Division will develop
agency procedures regarding the development of workforce plans. In
addition, DHS stated that in 2011, the FEMA Deputy Administrator
instituted FEMAStat, an agencywide data-driven review process where
FEMA leadership evaluates performance against objectives, identifies
barriers to success, agrees on actions to eliminate barriers, and hold
leaders of FEMA programs accountable for implementation. Through
FEMAStat, the FEMA Deputy Administrator required the Mission Support
Bureau, the Office of Response and Recovery, and Protection and
National Preparedness to develop an agreed upon approach with respect
to employee training, management, and coordination throughout the
agency. As such, DHS noted that FEMA, through FEMAStat will clearly
establish lines of authority for training. FEMA’s planned efforts to assign
responsibility for its Strategic Workforce Planning Initiative and establish
lines of authority for training efforts are important steps. DHS’s response
did not indicate how FEMA will establish lines of authority for its other
workforce planning efforts underway across the agency. Identifying and
implementing such action would be necessary to fully address the intent
of our recommendation.

With regard to our recommendation that FEMA develop systematic
processes to collect and analyze workforce and training data, DHS
agreed and noted that FEMA is implementing several initiatives that will
increase the capacity to collect and analyze workforce planning and
training data. For example, FEMA is in the process of implementing
EmpowHR, which is an integrated suite of applications that will support a
single system providing comprehensive employee information. According
to DHS, EmpowHR will enable FEMA to (1) make critical decisions
regarding workforce utilization, (2) forecast workforce turnover and
placement, and (3) project future resource budget allocations on a fiscal


Page 42                          GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
year basis to achieve mission goals. DHS also stated that FEMA is
developing a human capital data warehouse that will provide the capacity
to comprehensively report and analyze employee pay and training data.
FEMA also recently implemented an upgrade to its learning management
system, which will allow for scheduling and training employee training and
provide reporting capabilities allowing for skill and competencies gap
closing analysis. These actions, if implemented effectively, would address
the intent of our recommendation.

DHS also provided technical comments that we incorporated, where
appropriate.


We are sending copies of this report to the Secretary of Homeland
Security, appropriate congressional committees, and other interested
parties. This report will also be available at no charge on GAO’s website
at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please contact
me at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov. Contact points for our Office
of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last
page of this report. Key contributors to this report are listed in appendix V.




David C. Maurer
Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues




Page 43                           GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
List of Congressional Requesters

The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman
Chairman
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Susan M. Collins
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka
Chairman
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal
Workforce, and the District of Columbia
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Gus M. Bilirakis
Chairman
Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and
Communications
Committee on Homeland Security
House of Representatives

The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security
House of Representatives




Page 44                        GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Appendix I: Strategic Human Capital
                                           Appendix I: Strategic Human Capital
                                           Management Critical Success Factors



Management Critical Success Factors

                                           Our model of strategic human capital management identifies four
                                           cornerstones and eight critical success factors for managing human
                                           capital strategically, which embody an approach to human capital
                                           management that is fact-based, focused on strategic results, and
                                           incorporates merit principles and other national goals. 1 We noted that
                                           when considering the human capital cornerstones and the critical success
                                           factors, it is important to remember that they are interrelated and mutually
                                           reinforcing. Table 3 identifies the critical success factors for managing
                                           human capital strategically.

Table 3: Strategic Human Capital Management Critical Success Factors

Cornerstone                                                         Critical success factors
Leadership                   Commitment to Human Capital Management:                    Role of the Human Capital Function:
                             Demonstrated commitment of senior leadership to            Utilization of human capital professionals to
                             develop more effective ways of doing business,             contribute in management decisions to support
                             accomplishing results, and investing in human capital.     the long-term accomplishment of the agency’s
                                                                                        mission.
Strategic Human Capital      Integration and Alignment:                                 Data-Driven Human Capital Decisions:
Planning                     Development of human capital strategies that               Development of human capital management
                             effectively accomplish mission and programmatic goals      decisions using fact-based, performance-
                             and results.                                               oriented approaches.


Acquiring, Developing, and   Targeted Investments in People:                            Human Capital Approaches Tailored to
Retaining Talent             Providing resources and incentives that support and        Meet Organizational Needs:
                             encourage employees to attain agency goals and             Utilization of flexibilities in human capital
                             objectives.                                                strategies that are appropriate to meet
                                                                                        organizational requirements.
Results-Oriented             Empowerment and Inclusiveness:                             Unit and Individual Performance Linked to
Organizational Cultures      Involvement of employees and employee organizations        Organizational Goals:
                             in the planning process to develop agency goals,           Alignment of individual employee performance
                             insights, and foster employee understanding and            expectations with agency goals so that
                             acceptance of organizational goals and objectives.         individuals understand the connection between
                                                                                        their daily activities and their organization’s
                                                                                        success.
                                           Source: GAO.




                                           1
                                               GAO-02-373SP.




                                           Page 45                                    GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Appendix II: FEMA Program Office
                                            Appendix II: FEMA Program Office
                                            Responsibilities and Description of Initiatives
                                            Related to Workforce Planning


Responsibilities and Description of Initiatives
Related to Workforce Planning

Program office              Responsibilities                                           Initiative related to workforce planning
Office of Chief Component   Is to provide leadership and direction to the              Strategic Workforce Planning Initiative
Human Capital Officer       agency concerning human capital programs;                  Aimed at identifying the gaps in current workforce
                            develops and manage policies, programs, and                based upon identified requirements, as well as human
                            activities designed to ensure the strategic                capital requirements to achieve required operational
                            management of the agency’s human capital                   capabilities. This initiative is to result in the
                            assets; and ensure that strategic management               development of workforce plans, strategies, and tools
                            of human capital is integrated into all aspects of         to transform the current posture into the workforce of
                            the agency’s operations.                                   the future.
Incident Workforce          Is responsible for coordinating strategic                  FEMA Qualification System
Management Office           priorities for FEMA’s disaster workforce and               FEMA created this system to establish minimum,
                            strengthening partnerships and processes that              consistent, and fair qualification requirements for all
                            qualify, prepare, support, and deploy the right            FEMA employees; and for deployment purposes, to
                            disaster workers with the right skills at the right        help ensure a qualified disaster workforce based on
                            time.                                                      performance standards.
Office of Policy and        Is to guide and coordinate the policies,                   Force Planning Model
Program Analysis            strategic planning, and analysis of FEMA                   Designed to provide FEMA with the number of
                            programs.                                                  employees, broken out by permanent full-time
                                                                                       employees, Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery
                                                                                       Employees, and Disaster Assistance Employees
                                                                                       needed to effectively respond to a disaster dependent
                                                                                       on its severity, and to sustain day-to-day operations.
Office of Chief Procurement Is responsible for overseeing FEMA’s                       Balanced Workforce Strategy
Officer                     acquisition mission, providing customer support            Gathers the results of program offices’ use of DHS’s
                            in acquisition planning, and developing and                Balanced Workforce Strategy tool. DHS established
                            monitoring the agency’s acquisition policy,                the Balanced Workforce Strategy as a departmentwide
                            among other things.                                        initiative to assist the department and its component
                                                                                       agencies in determining the appropriate balance of
                                                                                       federal employees and contractors.
                                            Source: GAO analysis of FEMA information




                                            Page 46                                          GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Appendix III: FEMA Program Office
                                          Appendix III: FEMA Program Office
                                          Responsibilities Related to Workforce Training



Responsibilities Related to Workforce
Training

Program office                             Responsibilities
Office of Chief Component Human Capital    Is to provide leadership and direction to the agency concerning human capital programs,
Officer                                    including workforce training. Tracks human capital training information on permanent
                                           full-time employees and the Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery Employees.
Incident Workforce Management Office       Is responsible for defining and coordinating the strategic priorities for FEMA’s response
                                           workforce training programs, including the implementation of training requirements
                                           associated with new occupations under the FEMA Qualification System. Is also to work
                                           with other disaster-response stakeholders, such as the Emergency Management
                                           Institute and disaster occupation managers, to ensure that standards for training are
                                           implemented broadly throughout the workforce.
Training, Exercise, and Doctrine Office    Is to develop and validate training requirements for disaster response occupations under
                                           the FEMA Qualification System certification. Is responsible for working with
                                           stakeholders, such as disaster occupation managers, to develop requirements and
                                           courses for each disaster-related occupation. Annually evaluates courses to ensure that
                                           the meet expectations for preparing the workforce for disaster deployment.
Emergency Management Institute             Is responsible for supporting the creation and delivery of disaster response-related
                                           courses for FEMA’s workforce, including providing classroom courses, and ensures that
                                           all disaster-related courses meet accreditation requirements. Is also responsible for
                                           working with officials responsible for training deployed personnel to properly staff
                                           courses with subject matter experts. Responsible for managing training information
                                           management systems that provide online training and track training information.
Protection and National Preparedness       Appointed an individual to lead the creation of a comprehensive FEMA workforce
                                           leadership development training program with direction from the Leadership
                                           Development Council. However, FEMA has not yet delegated which program office is
                                           responsible for the implementation.
Individual Program Offices                 Professional Development Training: Initiated or authorized by program management for
                                           individual employees. May be identified through employee individual development plans
                                           or through program office needs. This training is provided by both internal and external
                                           sources.
                                          Source: GAO analysis of FEMA information.




                                          Page 47                                     GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Appendix IV: Comments from the
             Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
             of Homeland Security



Department of Homeland Security




             Page 48                              GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 49                              GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Appendix IV: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 50                              GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                   Appendix V: GAO Contact and Staff
                   Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                   David C. Maurer, (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                   In addition to the contact named above, Christopher Keisling, Assistant
Acknowledgments:   Director, managed this assignment. Vanessa Dillard, Jeremy Manion, and
                   Meg Ullengren made significant contributions to the work. Tracey King
                   provided significant legal support and analysis. Cynthia Saunders
                   assisted with design and methodology. Linda Miller and Debbie Sebastian
                   provided assistance in report preparation. Robert Robinson developed
                   the report graphics.




(440997)
                   Page 51                             GAO-12-487 FEMA Workforce Planning and Training
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