oversight

Disaster Assistance Workforce: FEMA Could Enhance Human Capital Management and Training

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-05-25.

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

             United States Government Accountability Office

GAO          Report to Congressional Requesters




May 2012
             DISASTER
             ASSISTANCE
             WORKFORCE
             FEMA Could Enhance
             Human Capital
             Management and
             Training




GAO-12-538
                                               May 2012

                                               DISASTER ASSISTANCE WORKFORCE
                                               FEMA Could Enhance Human Capital Management
                                               and Training
Highlights of GAO-12-538, a report to
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                         What GAO Found
Since fiscal year 2007 FEMA has                The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has taken steps to
obligated $33 billion in disaster              enhance its management of the Disaster Assistance Employee (DAE) program,
assistance payments. FEMA relies               such as through the establishment of a credentialing program, the FEMA
heavily upon its cadre of DAEs, a              Qualification System (FQS); however, management controls and training could
reserve workforce who interact with            be strengthened. For example, FEMA does not monitor how the regions
disaster survivors. GAO was asked to           implement DAE policies and how DAEs implement disaster policies across
review the management and training of          regions to ensure consistency. FEMA’s Administrator noted that due to
DAEs. Specifically, this report                differences in how regions operate, it is problematic to deploy someone based in
addresses the extent to which (1)
                                               one region to another during a disaster. Establishing a mechanism to monitor
FEMA has policies and procedures in
                                               both the regional implementation of DAE policies and procedures and DAE’s
place to govern the DAE program; (2)
FEMA’s human capital controls over
                                               implementation of disaster policies could help provide FEMA with reasonable
the DAE workforce are consistent with          assurance that disaster assistance is conducted in accordance with policy and
internal control standards; and (3)            implemented consistently.
FEMA’s DAE training incorporates key           FEMA’s human capital controls could be strengthened. FEMA’s regional DAE
attributes of effective training and           managers are responsible for hiring DAEs, but FEMA has not established hiring
development programs. In addition,             criteria and has limited salary criteria. By establishing standardized criteria for
GAO describes FEMA’s initiative to             making hiring and salary decisions, FEMA would be better positioned to hire
transform the DAE program
                                               people with requisite skills and better ensure consistency across regions.
announced in April 2012. GAO
                                               Likewise, FEMA’s performance appraisal system for DAEs is not consistent with
reviewed management documents
such as program-specific and human             internal control standards. FEMA does not have criteria for supervisors to assign
capital-related guidance, interviewed          DAEs satisfactory or unsatisfactory ratings. Thirteen of 16 regional DAE
FEMA officials, and conducted 16               managers GAO interviewed stated that the appraisal process could be improved,
focus group sessions with DAEs in four         such as implementing a rating scale instead of a pass/fail rating. FEMA officials
selected joint field offices chosen to         noted that performance management is a critical component in DAE supervision
provide geographic dispersion, among           and must be improved in fiscal year 2012. Establishing a more rigorous
other factors. The results of the focus        performance management system that includes criteria for given performance
groups are not generalizable, but              elements as well as guidance could help FEMA ensure that DAEs’ performance
provide valuable insight into DAE              appraisals more accurately reflect performance and provide needed information
experiences.                                   to managers.
What GAO Recommends                            FEMA’s DAE training is not consistent with key attributes of effective training and
                                               development programs, such as a plan for training staff. FEMA does not have a
GAO recommends, among other                    plan to ensure DAEs receive necessary training such as FQS requirements.
things, that FEMA establish a
                                               Further, 13 of 16 regional DAE managers GAO spoke to said that they would like
mechanism to monitor both its regions’
                                               more opportunities for DAEs to receive training. A plan to ensure that all DAEs
implementation of DAE policies and
DAEs’ implementation of disaster               have opportunities for training and completing FQS requirements with related
policies; criteria for hiring and              milestones would provide FEMA with a roadmap and ensure accountability for
compensating DAEs; and a plan to               qualifying DAEs under FQS. In addition, FEMA does not track how much of the
train DAEs within a set time frame.            Disaster Relief Fund is spent on training for DAEs. Developing a systematic
DHS concurred with the                         process to track training costs could provide FEMA with information to help it
recommendations.                               determine whether it is allocating its resources effectively.
                                               In an April 2012 memo, FEMA announced plans to transform the DAE program
                                               beginning in June 2012; however, this effort is still in the early stages and as a
                                               result, it is too soon to evaluate the effectiveness of FEMA’s planned actions.
View GAO-12-538. For more information,
contact William O. Jenkins at (202) 512-8757
or jenkinswo@gao.gov.

                                                                                        United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                    1
               Background                                                                 5
               Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Policies and Procedures That
                 Govern the DAE Program                                                 12
               FEMA Could Strengthen Human Capital Management Controls                  20
               FEMA’s DAE Training Is Not Consistent with Key Attributes of
                 Effective Training and Development Programs                            29
               FEMA Announced Impending Transformation of DAE Program, but
                 It Is Too Soon to Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Agency’s
                 Planned Actions                                                        33
               Conclusions                                                              34
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                     35
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                       36

Appendix I     Objectives, Scope, and Methodology                                       40



Appendix II    Categories of Disaster Workforce Employees                               44



Appendix III   Cadre List and Descriptions                                              45



Appendix IV    FEMA Organizational Chart—Highlight of Response Directorate’s
               Incident Workforce Management Office                                     51



Appendix V     Disaster Assistance Employee Program Office Reorganization Timeline,
               April 2008 through May 2012                                          52



Appendix VI    Incident Workforce Management Office Organizational Structure and
               Proposed Roles                                                           53



Appendix VII   FEMA Disaster Assistance Employee Pay Scale, Calendar Year 2011          54




               Page i                               GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix VIII   Comments from the Department of Homeland Security                         55



Appendix IX     GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                     58



Tables
                Table 1: FEMA Regional Office, Joint Field Office, and Emergency
                         Management Agencies                                              42
                Table 2: Cadre List and Descriptions                                      45



Figures
                Figure 1: Map of FEMA Regions and the Number of Disaster
                         Declarations and Disaster Assistance Employees Per
                         Region in 2011                                                     9
                Figure 2: Disaster Assistance Employee Performance Appraisal
                         Elements                                                         26




                Page ii                               GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Abbreviations

CORE              Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery Employee
CR                Community Relations
DAE               Disaster Assistance Employee
DFTO              Disaster Field Training Office
DHS               Department of Homeland Security
DRS               Disaster Readiness and Support
EMI               Emergency Management Institute
FCO               Federal Coordinating Officer
FEMA              Federal Emergency Management Agency
FQS               FEMA Qualification System
HR                Human Resources
HSIN              Homeland Security Information Network
IA                Individual Assistance
IWMO              Incident Workforce Management Office
JFO               Joint Field Office
OCCHCO            Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer
OCIO              Office of the Chief Information Officer
OIG               Office of Inspector General
OPPA              Office of Program and Policy Analysis
PA                Public Assistance
PFT               Permanent Full Time
TED               Training, Exercise and Doctrine Office



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Page iii                                        GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   May 25, 2012

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

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

                                   The annual number of federal major disaster declarations has grown 44
                                   percent from fiscal years 2007 to 2011. 1 Since fiscal year 2007, there
                                   have been 376 federal major disaster declarations in which the Federal
                                   Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has obligated $33 billion in
                                   major disaster assistance payments. 2 FEMA is tasked with leading the
                                   nation in mitigating, responding to, and recovering from major disasters,
                                   both natural and manmade. To meet its mission, FEMA relies heavily
                                   upon its cadre of Disaster Assistance Employees (DAE), a reserve
                                   workforce that interacts with disaster survivors. 3 There were 9,981 DAEs,
                                   which comprised 57 percent of FEMA’s workforce, as of February 2012. 4


                                   1
                                    The number of major disasters increased each year, except for fiscal year 2009. FEMA
                                   has two main types of disaster declarations: major disaster declarations and emergency
                                   declarations. Major disaster declarations can be declared for any natural catastrophe, or
                                   regardless of cause, any fire, flood or explosion, in any part of the United States, that the
                                   President believes has caused damage of such severity and magnitude that warrants
                                   major disaster assistance to supplement the efforts and available resources of states,
                                   local governments, and disaster relief organizations. Emergency declarations can be
                                   declared for any occasion or instance when the President determines federal assistance is
                                   needed to supplement state and local efforts and capabilities to save lives and to protect
                                   property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in
                                   any part of the United States. 42 U.S.C. § 5122.
                                   2
                                   This includes obligations for Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and Hazard
                                   Mitigation, only for Major Disaster declarations declared from fiscal years 2007 to 2011.
                                   3
                                    FEMA’s disaster workforce uses the cadre structure to identify employees who perform a
                                   specific operational program or function in support of agency-wide disaster operations.
                                   4
                                    We considered the FEMA workforce to include the following: DAEs, Cadre of On-Call
                                   Response/Recovery Employees (2,573), Temporary Full-Time (231) and Permanent Full-
                                   Time employees (4,784).




                                   Page 1                                          GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
DAEs support joint field office (JFO) leadership that administers FEMA’s
disaster assistance programs, such as Individual Assistance (IA) and
Public Assistance (PA). These programs provide financial assistance to
individuals and local governments, respectively, after a disaster.

We and others have identified challenges related to FEMA’s training and
human capital management practices. For example, our prior work on
FEMA’s human capital efforts identified shortages of staff with the right
skills, abilities, experience, and training. Specifically, in 2007 we reported
that FEMA needed data, plans, and systems to effectively manage
resources for its day-to-day operations and recommended that FEMA
establish training and development requirements and tracking systems to
ensure that staff had the necessary training to carry out their day-to-day
and disaster response functions. 5 The Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) did not provide comments on GAO’s recommendations; however,
in 2008 FEMA issued its Strategic Human Capital Plan, 2008-2012,
intended to address this recommendation. Moreover, the DHS Office of
Inspector General (OIG) reported that, in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina in 2005, FEMA new hires did not receive adequate training during
FEMA’s accelerated orientation process and FEMA did not have a central
training records management system. 6 Further, the DHS OIG noted that
the shortage of qualified staff for key positions responding to Hurricane
Katrina negatively impacted the effectiveness of FEMA’s response and
recovery operations. 7 FEMA has taken a number of steps to address
recommendations made by us and the DHS OIG, but key
recommendations remain unaddressed as discussed later in this report.
You asked us to review FEMA’s management and training of DAEs.
Specifically, this report addresses the following questions:

1. To what extent does FEMA have policies and procedures in place to
   govern the DAE program?
2. To what extent are FEMA’s human capital controls over the DAE
   workforce consistent with internal control standards?



5
 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).
6
 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, FEMA’s Preparedness for
the Next Catastrophic Disaster-An Update, OIG-10-123 (September 2010).
7
OIG-10-123.




Page 2                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
3. To what extent does FEMA’s DAE training incorporate key attributes
   of effective training and development programs?

In addition, we describe FEMA’s initiative to transform the DAE program
announced in April 2012 as it relates to the three questions above.

To determine the extent to which FEMA has policies and procedures in
place to govern the DAE program, and to determine the extent to which
FEMA’s human capital controls over the DAE workforce are consistent
with internal controls, we analyzed both program-specific and human
capital-related guidance, policies, and procedures produced by FEMA
headquarters and regional offices. We also compared FEMA’s human
capital management controls with Standards for Internal Control in the
Federal Government. 8

To determine the extent to which FEMA’s training of DAEs incorporates
key attributes of effective federal training and development programs, we
reviewed FEMA’s data from fiscal 2007 to 2011 on training requirements,
the location and frequency of training courses, course schedules, and the
amount of training funds used from the Disaster Relief Fund, which funds
disaster assistance operations. We determined that the data were
sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report based on interviews with
officials responsible for the data. We also reviewed policies and
procedures on training requirements, FEMA’s learning management
systems, JFO operations, and FEMA’s new credentialing program, the
FEMA Qualification System (FQS). 9 In addition, we observed training



8
  GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
(Washington, D.C.: November 1999). Internal control is an integral component of an
organization’s management that provides reasonable assurance that the following
objectives are being achieved: effectiveness and efficiency of operations, reliability of
financial reporting, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. These standards,
issued pursuant to the requirements of the Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act of
1982 (FMFIA), provide the overall framework for establishing and maintaining internal
control in the federal government. Also pursuant to FMFIA, the Office of Management and
Budget issued Circular A-123, revised December 21, 2004, to provide the specific
requirements for assessing the reporting on internal controls. Internal control standards
and the definition of internal control in Circular A-123 are based on GAO’s Standards for
Internal Control in the Federal Government.
9
 Credentialing involves the objective evaluation and documentation of an individual’s
current certification, license, or degree; training and experience; and competence or
proficiency to meet nationally accepted standards, provide particular services and/or
functions, or perform specific tasks under specific conditions during an incident.




Page 3                                         GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
attended by DAEs in a JFO. We compared FEMA’s DAE training efforts
with key attributes of effective training and development programs to
determine the extent to which they were aligned. 10

To address all three objectives, we reviewed previous DHS OIG reports,
and a FEMA-sponsored study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton on
FEMA’s disaster workforce. 11 We interviewed officials from various FEMA
offices at its headquarters, including the Incident Workforce Management
Office (IWMO), Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer
(OCCHCO), and the Emergency Management Institute. In addition to
interviews with officials in FEMA headquarters, we conducted site visits to
four FEMA regions. We selected these regions because they were
geographically dispersed and had a JFO with both Individual Assistance
(IA) and Public Assistance (PA) programs operating as of September
2011. 12 In each of these four regions, we interviewed the Regional
Administrator and Regional Cadre Managers. In addition, we visited one
JFO in each of the selected regions, where we interviewed the Federal
Coordinating Officer and Branch Chiefs. While the information we
obtained on these site visits is not generalizable, it provided important
insights into the structure and management of the DAE program.

To obtain the views of DAEs on issues related to all three of our
objectives, we conducted 16 focus group sessions with a total of 125
DAEs across the four selected JFOs. These sessions involved facilitated
small-group discussions designed to gain more in-depth information
about issues that DAEs face. Each focus group involved 5 to 12 DAE
participants. DAE participants were chosen by the management at each
JFO. There were four types of focus groups based on DAE job titles: IA
and PA supervisors, IA and PA non-supervisors, and supervisors and



10
 GAO, Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing Strategic Training and Development
Efforts for the Federal Government, GAO-04-546G (Washington, D.C.: March 2004).
11
  The Booz Allen Hamilton report we reviewed was preliminary and FEMA could not
locate the final report. FEMA stated that they are addressing the observations from this
review.
12
  Individual Assistance provides the necessary expenses and serious needs of disaster
victims that cannot be met through insurance or low-interest Small Business
Administration loans. FEMA provides temporary housing assistance to individuals whose
homes are unlivable because of a disaster. Public Assistance provides aid to state
government agencies; local governments; and private nonprofit organizations or
institutions that provide certain services otherwise performed by a government agency.




Page 4                                          GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                           non-supervisors from other cadres other than IA and PA. Specifically,
                           discussion topics included the hiring process, training, policies and
                           procedures, including FQS, and communication by regional managers;
                           however, not all focus group participants had observations about all
                           topics discussed. While the results of the focus groups are not
                           generalizable, the views we obtained from the focus groups provided us
                           with valuable examples of DAE experiences. In addition, we conducted
                           follow-up interviews with 16 regional cadre managers we previously
                           interviewed during our site visits to obtain further perspectives from
                           regional management on hiring, training, deployments, and policies and
                           procedures. In addition, we reviewed FEMA’s April 2012 memorandum
                           announcing the transformation of the DAE program, but did not assess its
                           planned actions to transform the DAE program because the agency is in
                           the early planning stages. For more information on our scope and
                           methodology see appendix I.

                           We conducted this performance audit from April 2011 through May 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.



Background
FEMA’s Disaster            The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of
Assistance Authority and   1988 (Stafford Act) generally defines the federal government’s role during
Declaration Process        the response and recovery after a major disaster. It establishes the
                           programs and processes through which the federal government provides
                           disaster assistance to state and local governments, tribes, certain
                           nonprofit organizations, and individuals. 13 FEMA has steady-state and
                           emergency organizational structures. Under a steady-state when FEMA is
                           not in active response to a disaster, FEMA employees conduct activities




                           13
                            42 U.S.C. § 5121 et seq.




                           Page 5                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
that “strengthen the Homeland Security Enterprise” 14 and perform
functions that align with the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review
(QHSR) goals 15, which include strengthening capacity to withstand
hazards, and improving preparedness in all levels and segments of
society. 16 However, when a disaster declaration is requested by a
Governor and approved by the President, FEMA executes its emergency
organizational structure as discussed below.

The Stafford Act establishes the process for states to request a
presidential major disaster declaration. 17 Once a declaration has been
declared by the President, FEMA may provide disaster assistance
pursuant to the authorities in the Stafford Act. In order to request that the
President issue a major disaster declaration, a Governor submits a
declaration request certifying that the damage requires resources beyond
the state’s capability. The request must also include an estimate of the
amount and severity of damage and losses and preliminary estimates of
the types and amount of disaster assistance needed, among other
things. 18 Once a disaster is declared, FEMA provides assistance primarily
through one or more of the following three assistance programs:
Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and Hazard Mitigation. 19 Not all
programs are activated for every disaster. The determination to activate a
program is based on the needs identified during the assessment
conducted as part of the declaration request. The Disaster Relief Fund is
the major source of federal disaster recovery assistance when a disaster



14
  The Homeland Security Enterprise is a partnership among DHS, other federal agencies,
the public and private sectors, and communities across the country and around the world,
who since 9/11 have worked to better mitigate and defend against dynamic threats,
minimize risks, and maximize the ability to respond and recover from attacks and
disasters of all kinds.
15
  QHSR outlines a strategic framework to guide the activities of homeland security
participants. It outlines a vision, specifies mission priorities, and outlines goals for each of
the mission areas.
16
 Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute: Federal Emergency Management
Agency Workforce Baseline Assessment, Final Report, March 31, 2010.
17
 42 U.S.C. § 5170.
18
 44 C.F.R. § 206.36.
19
  Hazard Mitigation provides additional funding to states to assist communities in
implementing long-term measures to help reduce the potential risk of future damages to
facilities.




Page 6                                             GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                           is declared. The Disaster Relief Fund is appropriated no-year funding
                           which allows FEMA to direct, coordinate, manage and fund response and
                           recovery efforts associated with domestic major disasters and
                           emergencies. 20


FEMA’s Disaster Reserve    Under the Stafford Act, FEMA has the authority to augment its permanent
Workforce and              full-time staff with temporary personnel when needed, without regard to
Organizational Structure   the appointment and compensation provisions governing Title 5
                           appointments of permanent full-time staff.21 Permanent full-time
                           employees manage FEMA’s day-to-day activities, and a portion of these
                           employees are expected to deploy when a disaster is declared. The DAE
                           is one type of temporary, on-call employee. See appendix II for a detailed
                           description of categories of disaster workforce employees. DAEs
                           comprise the largest portion of the disaster workforce employed under
                           FEMA’s emergency organizational structure. As of February 2012, there
                           were 9,981 DAEs. DAEs are activated to perform disaster activities
                           directly related to specific disasters, emergencies, projects, or activities of
                           a non-continuous nature. 22 DAEs serve two-year appointments, are only
                           paid when they are deployed (including per-diem), and do not receive any
                           Federal benefits with the exception of sick leave, holiday pay, and
                           administrative leave. They are assigned to one of 23 functional disaster
                           cadres. For example, the Individual Assistance cadre provides referrals
                           and guides individuals through the FEMA assistance process, while the
                           Hazard Mitigation cadre assists in educating the public and local
                           governments on methods to reduce the risk of loss of property and life
                           from a future disaster. See appendix III for a description of each cadre
                           and their primary duties.

                           FEMA’s organizational structure is decentralized and comprised of
                           headquarters and ten regional offices. FEMA’s Administrator, in
                           accordance with the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of
                           2006 (Post-Katrina Act), appoints a Regional Administrator to head each


                           20
                            No-year funds are available for obligation for an indefinite period of time.
                           21
                             42 U.S.C. § 5149(b)(1). Under the provisions of Title 5 governing appointments in
                           competitive service, recruitment of candidates is based on merit where selection is made
                           after a fair and open competition assuring equal opportunity. The candidates are selected
                           based on an application, interview process, and/or examination.
                           22
                            FEMA Instruction 8600.1 Disaster Assistance Employee Program.




                           Page 7                                           GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
regional office. 23 Regional Administrators—in partnership with state, local,
tribal governments, and other nongovernmental organizations—provide
emergency management within their respective geographical area. See
appendix IV, FEMA’s organizational chart, and figure 1 for a map of
FEMA’s regions.




23
 6 U.S.C. § 317.




Page 8                                  GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Figure 1: Map of FEMA Regions and the Number of Disaster Declarations and Disaster Assistance Employees Per Region in
2011




                                       JFOs are temporary FEMA offices established to respond to declared
                                       disasters. JFOs are led by Federal Coordinating Officers and an incident
                                       management team that coordinates the activities of the functional disaster
                                       cadres deployed for a particular disaster. Once a disaster is declared,
                                       FEMA is to deploy DAEs and other FEMA employees as needed, and is
                                       to use the Automated Deployment Database to track deployments,
                                       training, the initial disaster site location (duty station), as well as monitor
                                       overall cadre readiness.



                                       Page 9                                    GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                          Each cadre has a national cadre manager based in headquarters in
                          addition to a regional cadre manager, except for headquarters-based
                          cadres such as the Comptroller and Alternative Dispute Resolution
                          cadres. With respect to the management of DAEs, national and regional
                          cadre managers are responsible for implementing recruitment, hiring,
                          training, development and other administrative policies and procedures
                          developed by the DAE program office. 24 Management of the DAE
                          program has undergone structural changes over the last four years. See
                          appendix V for a timeline of management changes. The Incident
                          Workforce Management Office (IWMO) was established in June 2011,
                          and is currently responsible for the operational elements of the DAE
                          program. The office is organized into four functional units: Deployment,
                          Readiness, FEMA Qualification System (FQS), and Cadre Coordination.
                          See appendix VI for a description of its roles and responsibilities.




FEMA Qualification        FEMA is undertaking efforts to credential DAEs and the rest of its
System and DAE Training   workforce. Under the Post-Katrina Act, FEMA is responsible for
                          developing standards for deployment capabilities including credentialing
                          of personnel likely to respond to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and
                          other man-made disasters. 25 FQS is FEMA’s recent effort to credential all
                          employees in incident management or support positions, including the



                          24
                           FEMA Instruction 8600.1
                          25
                           6 U.S.C. § 320.




                          Page 10                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
DAE workforce, and began development in July 2010. 26 According to
FEMA, FQS is a performance-based system whereby employees are
determined to be either in Trainee or Qualified status in one of 322 job
titles, each of which has a related Position Task Book. Position Task
Books outline required activities, tasks, and behaviors, and serve as a
record for task completion. According to the Draft FQS Guide, under
Trainee status employees meet minimum experience requirements
outlined in Position Task Books. Employees can achieve qualified status,
or certified, once they complete all the eligibility requirements in the
Position Task Book outlined for the specified incident management or
incident support positions. 27 FQS seeks to establish standardized position
titles, improve job performance, and enable employees to pursue a
specified career track. In June 2011, FEMA began the initial qualification
determinations for DAEs and began notifying DAEs of their new job titles
and status in December 2011.

DAEs currently receive almost all of their mandatory and cadre-specific
training while deployed to JFOs. Mandatory courses include courses such
as Ethics, Sexual Harassment, and Computer Security. In addition to
mandatory courses, there are cadre-specific courses offered by FEMA’s
Emergency Management Institute. These courses are directly related to
the DAE cadres. For example, DAEs in the Public Assistance Cadre have
courses in cost estimates and public assistance eligibility. These courses
can be delivered at the JFO, or can be taken at one of the Emergency
Management Institute campuses; however, the majority of DAEs receive
the courses at the JFO.




26
  Incident management and support positions are categories of disaster-related work
performed in the field, in FEMA Regional Offices, and at FEMA headquarters related to
specific incidents. Specifically, incident management positions involve the delivery of
federal assistance in the field, operations, and the direct control and employment of
resources. The responsibilities of support positions include the deployment of national-
level assets, support of national programs affected during the disaster, and support of
incident operations.
27
 FEMA will begin developing Position Task Books for incident support positions in 2012.




Page 11                                         GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                            FEMA has taken steps to enhance its management of the program, but
Opportunities Exist to      has not developed or updated policies and procedures that align with the
Strengthen Policies         day-to-day management of the DAE program. FEMA has not provided
                            guidance for how regional cadre managers should undertake their duties
and Procedures That         in the management of DAEs. Furthermore, FEMA could better monitor
Govern the DAE              both its regions’ implementation of DAE policies and DAEs’
Program                     implementation of FEMA’s disaster policies and procedures in order to
                            reduce the risk of inconsistent application. In addition, FEMA does not
                            have policies and procedures for how it communicates with DAEs when
                            they are not deployed.


FEMA Has Not Yet            FEMA has not yet developed guidance for cadre managers that outlines
Provided Guidance to        how they should manage DAEs in their cadre such as guidance for
Cadre Managers Related to   understanding and handling reserve pay and benefits, the deployment
                            process, training procedures, and evaluation techniques. Specifically, 14
DAE Management              of 16 regional cadre managers we interviewed said that they have not
                            seen or are not aware of documented guidance for their duties as cadre
                            manager such as hiring, training, and developing DAEs from
                            headquarters, and 10 of 16 stated that having written guidance would be
                            beneficial to their job. 28 For example, one regional cadre manager said
                            that there are inconsistencies across regions with how cadre managers
                            hire, train, and utilize their DAEs. Another cadre manager added that
                            inconsistent hiring processes affect morale among DAEs. Instructions on
                            how to manage are handed down from experienced colleagues, but are
                            not documented for consistent use, according to another cadre manager.
                            FEMA stated in 1999 that it planned to establish guidelines and
                            requirements for cadre management functions and intended this guidance
                            to be applied consistently at headquarters and in the regions, but this
                            effort was not completed. 29 In 2008, FEMA officials drafted a cadre
                            manager’s handbook; however, the handbook was not finalized or
                            officially adopted across FEMA. The director of IWMO stated that he did
                            not know why the cadre manager’s handbook had not been completed
                            since 2008. In February 2012, during the course of our review, FEMA


                            28
                             Of the other 2 regional cadre managers, 1 said that he has not received guidance from
                            headquarters, but has received guidance from the Individual Assistance national cadre
                            manager. The other manager did not provide a response. Regarding the issue of whether
                            having written guidance would be beneficial, the remaining 6 cadre managers did not
                            mention this issue.
                            29
                             FEMA Director’s Policy No. 1-99.




                            Page 12                                      GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
began its Disaster Workforce Transformation. 30 According to FEMA, this
effort includes creating a National Disaster Reservist Program intended to
overhaul the current DAE program and examine issues such as cadre
management. Further, IWMO officials stated that in fiscal year 2012, they
intend to develop a new cadre management handbook, revise FEMA
DAE policy, conduct regularly scheduled meetings and conference calls
with cadre managers, and conduct a national conference designed to
educate cadre managers on their roles. However, FEMA does not have
time frames or milestones for completing and disseminating cadre
manager guidance as part of its Disaster Workforce Transformation and
related activities.

In the absence of cadre manager guidance, IWMO officials stated that
FEMA Instruction 8600.1, issued in 1991, is the best source for
information and guidance on the roles and responsibilities of cadre
managers. The document outlines DAE policy for recruitment and hiring,
reappointment, appraisals, and benefit eligibility. However, many of its
sections are obsolete or inoperative. For example, FEMA Instruction
8600.1 states that the office directors are responsible for the recruitment,
selection, training, use, and management of their DAE cadres. According
to FEMA, the regional cadre managers currently have these
responsibilities; however the 8600.1 policy is not updated to reflect this
change in responsibility. In addition, 9 of 16 regional cadre managers we
interviewed stated that FEMA Instruction 8600.1 was either outdated, in
need of revision, or not applied consistently across the organization. 31
One regional cadre manager said that he would like anything from
headquarters with respect to guidance, but all that he has seen is FEMA
Instruction 8600.1, which is outdated. This manager added that it was
unclear whether any steps have been taken to ensure that FEMA
Instruction 8600.1 is applied consistently across regions. Another regional
manager said when they have to give new hires a copy of FEMA
Instruction 8600.1, they amend the document to reflect recent policy
changes.




30
  FEMA’s Disaster Workforce Transformation initiative is intended to improve how FEMA
prepares, trains, informs, and engages its disaster workforce.
31
 Of the remaining cadre managers we interviewed, 2 said that they were not sure
whether FEMA Instruction 8600.1 was applied consistently across regions, and 5 did not
mention the issue.




Page 13                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                            A 2010 DHS OIG report recommended that FEMA review and update key
                            DAE program benefit policies, procedures, and guidance to eliminate
                            conflicts and inconsistencies between interim policies and permanent
                            overall guidance. 32 In response to the IG’s report, FEMA officials stated
                            that FEMA Instruction 8600.1 was under revision. In March 2012 during
                            the course of our review, FEMA officials stated that the revision of FEMA
                            Instruction 8600.1 has been placed on hold pending the results of
                            FEMA’s fiscal year 2012 workforce transformation initiative to ensure all
                            issues that result from the transformation effort are identified. According
                            to standard practices for program management, an organization should
                            develop a program schedule that establishes the timeline for program
                            milestones and deliverables. 33 Given that FEMA has not completed
                            previous efforts to create guidance for cadre managers, establishing time
                            frames and milestones could help FEMA ensure accountability for
                            completing and disseminating the cadre manager handbook and a
                            revised FEMA Instruction 8600.1.


FEMA Could Better           FEMA’s decentralized structure allows for flexibility in responding to
Monitor Implementation of   disasters; however, FEMA does not monitor how the regions implement
Policies and Procedures     DAE policies, and how DAEs implement disaster policies and procedures.
                            Without such a mechanism, it will be difficult for FEMA to provide
                            assurance that both its regions and DAEs implement DAE policies and
                            disaster policies and procedures consistently. For example, DAEs in
                            focus groups we conducted and regional cadre managers we interviewed
                            expressed concerns about the inconsistency across regions in
                            interpreting FEMA policy. Specifically, they raised concerns about
                            inconsistencies across regions or cadres in how supervisors interpret
                            both DAE administrative policies and/or cadre-specific disaster policies.
                            For example, one focus group participant said that although there are
                            standard policies and procedures, each disaster is different, with different
                            supervisors that interpret these policies differently. Another focus group
                            participant reiterated this point, stating that the regions and cadres direct
                            their DAEs on how to approach disaster tasks differently, which lead to
                            inefficiencies in providing disaster assistance. Participants in the public
                            assistance cadre, for example, raised concerns about the variability that


                            32
                             DHS-OIG, FEMA’s Management of Disaster Assistance Employee Deployment and
                            Payroll Processes, OIG-10-115 (September 2010).
                            33
                             Project Management Institute, The Standard for Program Management, 2006.




                            Page 14                                    GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
exists in how supervisors and managers interpret public assistance policy
on documenting damage assessments, leading to differences in how well
the worksheets are prepared. One participant stated that there are
inconsistencies across regions when preparing the project worksheets
used to document disaster damage and provide cost estimates and plans
for repair. Specifically, this focus group participant stated that in certain
regions DAEs are instructed to focus on the number of worksheets
passed through the system. Although it is not referred to as a quota, the
participant stated that if a DAE does not achieve this number, he or she
will be sent home before completing his deployment. Conversely, in other
regions, supervisors and other managers do not apply a goal for the
number of worksheets to be completed and are concerned with quality
rather than quantity. These variations can lead to inconsistencies in how
the worksheets are completed. Another focus group participant stated
that the inefficiencies and inconsistencies that run across the board were
problematic adding that when determining eligibility for public assistance,
sometimes things are made eligible in one state that are not eligible in
another state. Moreover, a 2007 Booz Allen Hamilton preliminary report
entitled Restructuring and Enhancement of the Intermittent Disaster
Workforce System also identified inconsistencies in the application of
policies and standard operating procedures across regions and cadres. 34

In March 2012 during the course of our review, FEMA officials stated that
the agency intends to establish a centralized management structure
responsible for the development of FEMA disaster assistance policies
and procedures. FEMA policy states that headquarters is responsible for
developing the agency’s policies and procedures for disaster assistance
and the regional offices are responsible for the implementation of these
policies and procedures. We recognize that FEMA’s decentralized
structure allows for flexibility in handling disasters as each region can
encounter different types of disasters and the regional structure can
facilitate disaster assistance. In a February 2012 FEMA town hall
meeting, FEMA’s Administrator acknowledged that there are
inconsistencies across the FEMA regions, and noted that due to
differences in how regions operate, it is problematic to deploy someone



34
  Booz Allen Hamilton, Restructuring and Enhancement of the Intermittent Disaster
Workforce System: Preliminary Findings Report (Herndon, Va.: Booz Allen Hamilton,
2007). The Booz Allen Hamilton report we reviewed was preliminary and FEMA could not
locate the final report. FEMA stated that they are addressing the observations from this
review.




Page 15                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                            based in one region to another during a disaster. 35 Moreover, a regional
                            cadre manager we interviewed cited inconsistency in policy application
                            saying, “there is an ongoing problem of the right hand not knowing what
                            the left hand is doing with respect to when policies are implemented or
                            are in conflict with one another”. Without routinely monitoring how
                            disaster policies and procedures are being implemented across regions
                            by DAEs and how the regions implement DAE policies, FEMA lacks
                            reasonable assurance that it is administering its disaster assistance
                            consistently across regions in accordance with its mission.

                            Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government call for an
                            organization’s controls to be designed to assure that ongoing monitoring
                            occurs in the course of normal operations and that it includes regular
                            management and supervisory activities, comparisons and
                            reconciliations. 36 Moreover, according to FEMA’s Capstone Doctrine,
                            which describes FEMA’s mission, purpose, and defines the agency’s
                            principles, FEMA advocates the practice of consistent decision making by
                            those with authority to act. 37 Establishing a mechanism to ensure routine
                            monitoring of the regional implementation of DAE policies and
                            procedures, as well as how DAEs implement disaster policies, could help
                            provide FEMA with reasonable assurance that disaster assistance is
                            being implemented by DAEs in accordance with policy and consistently
                            across regions.


Opportunities Exist to      FEMA does not have policies and procedures for how it will communicate
Communicate Cadre-          cadre-specific information to DAEs when not deployed. Most DAEs do not
Specific Information More   have access to cadre-specific information when not deployed, although
                            FEMA has recently taken steps to increase communication. The majority
Consistently with DAEs      of the cadre-specific information for DAEs is housed on FEMA’s internal
When Not Deployed           website and is not accessible by DAEs when they are not deployed. This
                            is because when DAEs are not deployed, they do not have access to their
                            FEMA-issued equipment such as laptops, as well as their FEMA e-mail
                            accounts. As a result, DAEs are not able to access information directly,
                            including changes in policies and procedures that may occur while they


                            35
                             In February 2012, FEMA conducted a series of town hall meetings for all FEMA
                            employees, including DAEs, in all 10 FEMA regions and headquarters.
                            36
                             GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1.
                            37
                             The Federal Emergency Management Agency Publication 1, November 2010.




                            Page 16                                      GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
are not deployed, and may not immediately be prepared to provide
assistance to survivors during a disaster. Once DAEs are deployed to a
disaster, they are typically provided equipment, such as laptops, and
FEMA e-mail addresses, which are used to receive policy and procedural
updates. However, DAEs in the focus groups we conducted raised
concerns about their inability to access this type of information prior to
being deployed to a disaster. For example, one focus group participant
told us that it is difficult to keep up with changes as they happen when
they are not deployed because they receive very little information when
they are not deployed. Another focus group participant told us that they
cannot access policy changes because they do not have access to
information behind FEMA’s firewall. We also heard from one DAE that
because she was not provided program information related to her job, it
was difficult for her to feel comfortable representing FEMA to disaster
victims without access to information such as materials related to
applicant services.

Thirteen of 16 regional cadre managers we interviewed said that they
communicate policy and procedural updates to DAEs when they are not
deployed via personal e-mail accounts, however, not all cadre managers
believe that it is their responsibility to convey policy updates to their DAEs
when they are not deployed. For example, one cadre manager who is
responsible for 180 DAEs told us she believes that policy changes should
come from FEMA headquarters and should be posted on FEMA.gov.
Consequently, this cadre manager does not forward policy changes to
personal e-mail accounts.

According to another cadre manager, communicating policies and
procedures to DAEs when they are not deployed is difficult because
DAEs are completely disconnected from the mechanisms typically used
to share information with FEMA staff during non-deployment. Further, he
added that this proved to be a problem during disasters in 2010 where
DAEs that had not been deployed for a while were unfamiliar with FEMA’s
recent policy updates. The manager said this situation was problematic
because management did not always have the time to walk these DAEs
through policy changes. Ultimately, this lack of access to information
among DAEs had an impact on DAE readiness because it extended their
learning curve and potentially created delays in providing service in some
cases.

According to an official from FEMA’s Office of the Chief Information
Officer, cadre managers have developed their own strategy for
communicating with DAEs when they are not deployed. In addition,


Page 17                                  GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
officials from IWMO told us that cadre managers are best suited to
determine the precise information and content that will meet the needs of
their respective cadre. Therefore, cadre managers are encouraged by
IWMO to develop informative resource pages for their DAEs. For
example, we found that the Hazard Mitigation cadre has developed a
platform to communicate and share a vast array of resources with DAEs
without access to FEMA’s internal website. Specifically, Hazard
Mitigation’s disaster workforce resources are available on both FEMA’s
internal website as well as the Hazard Mitigation Disaster Workforce
portal on the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), which can
be accessed via any Internet connection with a login and password. The
portal provides resources for each of the different functional areas of
Hazard Mitigation, including web links, contact information, tasks books,
job aids, policies, publications, and training materials for the Hazard
Mitigation workforce. However, as of March 2012, these tools were limited
to the Hazard Mitigation Cadre. According to IWMO, other cadres,
including Alternate Dispute Resolution, Community Relations, Individual
Assistance, and Environmental & Historic Preservation have internal
websites that contain programmatic policies and procedures. However,
these sites are not readily available to DAEs who do not have access to
FEMA’s internal website. In a budget-constrained environment,
leveraging existing mechanisms can help agencies achieve efficiencies.
While our prior work has identified issues with the HSIN platform, it could
be used to provide DAEs greater access to FEMA resources. 38 According
to FEMA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, HSIN would be an



38
  In April 2007, we reported that when coordinating efforts between HSIN and other state
and local information-sharing initiatives, DHS did not fully adhere to key practices aimed at
enhancing information sharing, collaboration, and avoiding duplication nor did it develop
compatible policies, procedures, and other means to operate across organizational
boundaries. We recommended, among other things, that DHS assess whether there are
opportunities for HSIN to improve information sharing and avoid duplication of effort; and
where there are opportunities, implement effective coordination and collaboration
practices. DHS largely agreed with our recommendations and initiated actions to
implement them including creating the HSIN Advisory Council—a HSIN user group
composed of representatives from state, tribal, and local governments and the private
sector—which met to discuss HSIN information-sharing activities and provided strategic-
level recommendations. DHS also created the HSIN Mission Coordinating Committee—a
user group composed of representatives from DHS’s components (e.g., the Office of
Infrastructure Protection, the Coast Guard, and the Federal Emergency Management
Agency)—to address their respective users’ requirements for HSIN. GAO, Information
Technology: Numerous Federal Networks Used to Support Homeland Security Need to Be
Better Coordinated with Key State and Local Information-Sharing Initiatives, GAO-07-455
(Washington, D.C.: Apr. 16, 2007).




Page 18                                         GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
appropriate tool for DAEs to use to stay connected to FEMA because it
would allow them access to pertinent information from anywhere and
would not represent an additional cost to FEMA.

Inconsistent access to information among non-deployed DAEs, in addition
to inconsistent communication strategies with DAEs among regional
cadre managers, may hinder FEMA’s mission of providing assistance to
disaster survivors, by extending the amount of time it takes DAEs to
familiarize themselves with the most current cadre-specific policies and
procedures when they are deployed. However, FEMA has taken some
steps to improve DAEs’ access to information when they are not
deployed. For example, part of FEMA’s Disaster Workforce
Transformation includes plans intended to increase communication to
DAEs. FEMA stated that it plans to have consistent, two-way
communication with DAEs even when they are not deployed. According
to FEMA, this communication will include sending weekly e-mails about
agency activities to each of the personal e-mail addresses it has on file
for its entire workforce and developing a dedicated employee-focused
website accessible to all of its employees. However, the employee-
focused website contains a minimal amount of cadre-specific information.
Since FEMA will rely on its cadres to provide their own content, the extent
to which FEMA’s new centralized employee-focused website will include
cadre-specific policies and procedures that DAEs need to perform their
duties while deployed, such as those provided by the Hazard Mitigation
cadre via its HSIN portal, is not clear. For example, as of March 2012,
FEMA’s publicly available website for its employees included an
Employee Information and Resource Center that houses general
information such as travel policies, newsletters, and information related to
the FEMA’s Disaster Workforce Transformation and FQS. Unlike the
Hazard Mitigation portal on HSIN, FEMA’s employee website did not
include cadre-specific information such as Concept of Operations
documents that describe how specific cadre efforts are conducted in the
pre- and post-disaster environment, or field office guides and Go Kits
which contain cadre-specific guidance, which are resources that DAEs
can access to better prepare themselves for future disasters while they
are not deployed.

As part of FEMA’s Disaster Workforce Transformation efforts, it
developed an employee-focused website; however, according to FEMA,
the new employee website was not intended to be a long-term solution,
nor was it intended to replace FEMA’s internal website used to
communicate with its workforce. FEMA has not developed a plan with
milestones for how it will communicate not only general information but


Page 19                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                           cadre-specific information to DAEs when they are not deployed.
                           According to FEMA, the agency is examining other solutions that would
                           allow the agency’s entire workforce to have access to all information, but
                           a specific time frame has not been determined. According to standard
                           practices for program management, an organization should develop a
                           program schedule that establishes the timeline for program milestones
                           and deliverables. 39 As FEMA implements its Disaster Workforce
                           Transformation, developing a plan with time frames and milestones for
                           how it will better communicate cadre-specific policies, procedures, and
                           other information to DAEs when they are not deployed would provide
                           FEMA with a roadmap to help ensure that it is providing DAEs the tools
                           they need to be prepared for disaster deployments.


                           FEMA has not established standardized hiring or salary criteria to help
FEMA Could                 ensure that basic qualifications are met by prospective DAEs, and that
Strengthen Human           regional managers consistently determine initial DAE salaries and award
                           promotions. Moreover, FEMA’s performance appraisal system for DAEs
Capital Management         does not adhere to internal control standards, which would help ensure
Controls                   that managers have information to better inform performance
                           management decisions.


FEMA Has Not Established   FEMA has not established standardized hiring criteria for prospective
Standardized Hiring and    DAEs, and FEMA headquarters provides limited guidance to regions on
Salary Criteria for DAEs   which to base DAE salary determinations.

Hiring Criteria            According to FEMA Instruction 8600.1 of 1991, the primary document
                           outlining DAE program policies, regional cadre managers are responsible
                           for the recruitment, selection, use, and management of their respective
                           DAE cadres. Our review of policies and interviews with regional cadre
                           managers as well as officials in FEMA headquarters indicate that DAEs
                           are hired by regional cadre managers without being assessed against
                           established criteria to determine their qualification for the position.
                           Regional cadre managers make the initial hiring selection, and then send
                           a hiring package with the individual’s qualifications and a proposed salary
                           to the Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer (OCCHCO).
                           OCCHCO officials stated that they then review the individual’s package to



                           39
                            Project Management Institute, The Standard for Program Management, 2006.




                           Page 20                                    GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
verify that the selected individual is qualified for the position and that the
proposed salary is appropriate based on experience and skills described
in the individual’s resume. However, criteria used by OCCHCO officials in
assessing the qualifications and pay of a DAE applicant are not
documented; rather, OCCHCO officials stated that these decisions are
based on general knowledge. An OCCHCO official who reviews the hiring
package containing the applicant’s paperwork said that she believes that
regional cadre managers do not always use the same criteria for
evaluating qualifications and selecting a DAE candidate as the OCCHCO
official uses in approving the proposal. In addition, a regional cadre
manager from Hazard Mitigation said that the national cadre manager at
headquarters provides guidance for hiring. In contrast, another regional
manager said that there is no written guidance available, and that
regional cadre managers are on their own in making hiring decisions.

According to OCCHCO, the agency’s hiring criteria for DAEs is contained
within FEMA Instruction 8600.1. 40 This policy states that “consideration
should be given to the specific job functions, the qualifications required to
perform those jobs, and Equal Employment Opportunity requirements.”
However, the policy does not provide explicit information on the
qualifications for different cadres or positions, such as the relevant
experience, education, or skills. For example, there is no FEMA-wide
guidance on the preferred skills and experience of prospective DAEs for a
given position in the IA cadre or the PA cadre, which focus on different
aspects of assistance, and thus, require different expertise. OCCHCO
officials agreed that it would be useful to have a list of bulleted skills and
qualifications that are desired by each cadre for making hiring decisions.
An OCCHCO official who reviews hiring and salary recommendations
said there is no specific guidance provided to regions related to hiring
criteria, other than FEMA Instruction 8600.1, because they believe that
the regions have competent people hiring DAEs.




40
  In addition, FEMA officials stated that the Position Task Books created for the
credentialing process prior to FQS are being used to provide guidance and direction to the
regions regarding hiring DAEs. FEMA officials said that as the agency implements the
FEMA Disaster Workforce Transformation, meetings will be held between OCCHCO,
IWMO, and the cadre managers to discuss how the FQS Position Task Books will be used
to determine qualifications and set salaries. However, as of April 2012 there was no
written policy or guidance instructing the regions to use the Position Task Books for hiring
purposes.




Page 21                                         GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                      The 2007 preliminary report by Booz Allen Hamilton on FEMA’s disaster
                      workforce stated that the lack of standardization in recruitment standards,
                      interviewing processes, and hiring practices led to a wide disparity in the
                      qualifications of DAEs across the regions, which the report noted may
                      impair FEMA’s ability to effectively respond to a disaster. 41 Moreover, one
                      regional cadre manager said that morale is lowered when unqualified
                      DAEs are hired, and another said that many DAEs complain that there is
                      significant variation across regions in terms of the skills required for
                      different positions. In addition, a DAE who participated in our focus group
                      stated that if FEMA had asked the right questions, he would not have
                      been hired, since he did not have the necessary technological skills to
                      use the laptop, GPS, and digital camera that FEMA provided to him.

                      Standards for Internal Controls in the Federal Government call for
                      agencies to identify appropriate knowledge and skills needed for various
                      jobs. According to FEMA, when FQS is implemented in 2012, position-
                      specific training and position task requirements will be defined for each of
                      the 322 positions to provide more specificity; however, FEMA could not
                      provide details about how or if this will translate into better hiring criteria
                      for prospective DAEs. 42 By standardizing hiring criteria, FEMA would be
                      better positioned to hire people with the requisite skills and have
                      reasonable assurance that hiring decisions are being made consistently
                      across regions.

Guidance for Salary   In addition, FEMA headquarters provides limited guidance for regions to
Determinations        use to make DAE salary determinations. According to a FEMA official, in
                      addition to FEMA Instruction 8600.1, the “Grant C. Peterson Memo”
                      (Peterson Memo) of 1992 put forth guidance for pay levels and
                      promotions. 43 This guidance outlines five pay grades (A through E), as
                      well as the three levels within each pay grade and relates these pay
                      grades to their approximate GS or GM federal grade level. 44 The


                      41
                       Booz Allen Hamilton, Preliminary Findings Report, 27.
                      42
                        FEMA could not provide details about how FQS will translate into better hiring criteria for
                      prospective DAEs in addition to identifying the requisite training and skills needed by
                      newly hired DAEs to become qualified under FQS.
                      43
                       See appendix VII for DAE pay scale.
                      44
                        The General Schedule (GS) system is a graded pay system established under the
                      Classification Act of 1949. GM (General Manager) employees were formerly paid under
                      the Performance Management and Recognition System (PMRS). GM employees are now
                      paid under the GS system.




                      Page 22                                          GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Peterson Memo states that all DAEs will be given a tentative pay grade at
the time of the initial appointment, and within 90 days a decision will be
made as to whether or not that tentative grade is appropriate or should be
changed to a different grade. The Peterson Memo lists position titles that
would be assigned to Grades A through E, but it does not clarify how a
DAE is to be assigned to one of the three levels within each grade. 45 In
addition, the memo does not establish criteria on which to base initial
salary decisions or reconsiderations within the 90-day window.

An OCCHCO official stated that it is possible that cadre managers have
developed their own criteria for placing DAE hires in certain pay
categories. For example, the OCCHCO official noted that some cadre
managers bring everyone in on a C-1 level (approximately $21/hour) until
they are able to “learn about the organization,” a process which is not
quantified or measured. We noted variation among regional cadre
managers with respect to pay determinations, with some managers
proposing pay according to the candidate’s experience, and others basing
pay determinations solely on the job title. For example, six regional cadre
managers said that pay determinations depend on the candidate’s
experience, education, and background and one added that individuals
with the same job title could be paid differently depending on their
experience. In contrast, three different regional cadre managers said that
pay is based on the job title or position the DAE is hired to fill; for
example, one said that a data entry DAE would start in the A or B pay
grade, while construction managers would be assigned to the C pay
grade. Variation in salaries across regions and cadres can lower morale
among DAEs who are deployed in multiple regions and notice DAEs that
are paid more despite having less responsibility, according to two regional
cadre managers. A senior FEMA official in a recent “town hall meeting”
acknowledged that there have been issues with the pay and promotion
system for DAEs for many years, and that leadership will be looking at the
issue. In addition, the Assistant Administrator for Response said that
there is currently no consistency with pay determinations or raises, and
that changes to the pay system will be a part of FEMA’s Disaster
Workforce Transformation. Additionally, 8 of 16 regional cadre managers
we interviewed stated that they do not receive guidance or would like to


45
  For example, the Peterson Memo states that a Data Entry Clerk is to be considered a
Grade A; a Program Assistant (PA) is to be considered a Grade B; a PA Inspector is to be
considered a Grade C; a Program Officer (IA) is to be considered a Grade D; and an Audit
Manager is to be considered a Grade E.




Page 23                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
receive more guidance related to salary determinations, including the
criteria used by headquarters. 46 FEMA headquarters could clarify what
kind of professional experience gained prior to joining FEMA is
considered relevant for different positions and cadres or to what extent
disaster-specific responsibilities may factor into salary determinations.
Ten of 16 regional cadre managers said that headquarters has previously
denied pay determinations proposed by the region, and two of these
regional cadre managers responded by asking the applicant to revise his
or her resume and re-send it to headquarters. 47 One of these regional
cadre managers noted that he did not know what headquarters was
looking for when making decisions regarding whether to place a
candidate in pay Grade B or C.

During recent town hall meetings between agency leadership and
employees, a FEMA official acknowledged that pay grade distribution and
pay raise inconsistencies are an issue in the DAE program. The Assistant
Administrator for Response noted that more than 90 percent of DAEs are
in the C category or above, and as a result there are DAEs in higher pay
grades performing work that should be done by lower-paid DAEs.
According to FEMA officials, they will be looking into these issues as part
of FEMA’s Disaster Workforce Transformation. In addition, FEMA officials
noted that FQS will institutionalize pay determinations for DAEs based on
job title, but as of March 2012, they could not provide details regarding
this effort. Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government state
that good human capital policies and practices should include
establishing appropriate practices for compensating and promoting
personnel. We have reported that agencies may abide by these
standards by basing compensation on achievements and performance.
By establishing standardized criteria for making DAE salary and
promotion determinations, FEMA could increase transparency around
salary determinations and reduce unnecessary variation across regions.




46
 Of the other 8 cadre managers, 3 had received some guidance related to salary
determinations, and the remainder did not indicate whether or not they had received
guidance.
47
  Of the other 6 cadre managers, 3 said that they had not received any denials from
headquarters and 3 did not mention whether they had received any denials or their
response was inconclusive.




Page 24                                        GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Performance Appraisals   FEMA’s performance appraisal system for DAEs is not consistent with
for DAEs Do Not Adhere   internal control standards, which would help ensure that managers have
to Internal Control      information to better inform performance management decisions. 48
                         Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government state that
Standards
                         agencies should establish appropriate practices for evaluating,
                         counseling, and disciplining personnel. 49 In addition, these standards
                         state that effective management of an organization’s workforce include
                         identifying appropriate knowledge and skills needed for various jobs and
                         providing candid and constructive counseling, and performance
                         appraisals. We have previously reported that agencies could adhere to
                         these internal control standards through a number of actions, such as
                         ensuring that:

                         •     promotions and compensation of employees are based on periodic
                               performance appraisals;
                         •     employees are provided with appropriate feedback and given
                               suggestions for improvement; or that
                         •     employment is terminated when performance is consistently below
                               standards. 50
                         Performance appraisal systems are intended to provide agencies with
                         information related to the effectiveness of employees and serve as a
                         mechanism to identify and improve performance deficiencies. FEMA’s
                         performance management system for DAEs is based on a performance
                         appraisal form that is not consistent with internal control standards, which
                         state that counseling should be candid and constructive. According to
                         FEMA Instruction 8600.1, supervisors are required to complete a
                         performance appraisal form for DAEs at the end of each DAE’s
                         deployment. As shown in figure 2, all DAE reservists are rated on seven




                         48
                           According to FEMA, the DAE performance process is not an OPM-approved program.
                         However, we have reported in GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1 that implementing effective internal
                         controls is a key factor in achieving agencies’ missions and program results.
                         49
                             GAO/AMID-00-21.3.1.
                         50
                           GAO, Internal Control Management and Evaluation Tool, GAO-01-1008G, August 2001.
                         This is a guide that GAO produced to assist agencies in maintaining or implementing
                         effective internal controls. This tool is not required to be used, but it is intended to provide
                         a systematic and structured approach to assessing the internal control structure.




                         Page 25                                           GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                                       elements, and supervisors are rated on an additional seven elements. 51 In
                                       addition, there is a narrative portion of the performance appraisal form
                                       where supervisors are required to include written comments.

Figure 2: Disaster Assistance Employee Performance Appraisal Elements




                                       51
                                         FEMA Form 90-106, the Performance Appraisal for the Disaster Assistance Program,
                                       may be used to evaluate the performance of any FEMA employee deployed to a disaster,
                                       including Permanent Full-Time, Cadre of On-Call Response/Recover Employees and
                                       DAEs.




                                       Page 26                                     GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
For each element, a DAE may be given an “S” for Satisfactory, “U” for
Unsatisfactory, or “N/A” if a supervisor had no opportunity to observe the
DAE’s performance; these ratings are essentially a pass/fail system.
However, it is unclear what constitutes successful completion of each
element, and FEMA headquarters has not provided any written guidance
to regions for assigning ratings. For example, FEMA lacks criteria that
can be used to make the determination that a DAE should receive an S or
a U for a given element. FEMA Instruction 8600.1 addresses what cadre
managers should do with the appraisal form, but not specifically how to
assign a rating and what content managers should include in the narrative
portion. Eleven of 16 regional cadre managers we interviewed stated that
DAEs are not given honest appraisals. 52 These regional cadre managers
stated that ratings are not always an accurate reflection of performance
because currently there is a conflict of interest because supervisors (who
are also DAEs) must evaluate subordinate DAEs who could be their
supervisors in the next deployment. According to the Director of IWMO,
when FQS is implemented in fiscal year 2012, DAEs will continue to
supervise other DAEs in the field. This official said that the qualification
requirements under FQS will help ensure that the supervising DAEs have
the professionalism to manage other DAEs. However, given the fact that
DAEs may continue to serve at levels below the one for which they are
qualified, the conflict of interest could continue. While we recognize that
ensuring supervisors provide candid ratings can be challenging for
agencies, strengthening the controls in place for developing performance
ratings could help FEMA provide both managers and DAEs more
meaningful performance information.

In addition, the performance appraisal system could be more transparent
by providing managers with additional information to use when making
performance management decisions. For example, because the appraisal
form usually provides little information to managers regarding a DAE’s
performance during a disaster, one regional cadre manager noted that
branch directors contact the regions and let them know of any problems
with their cadre members. The manager added that instead of or in
addition to reviewing the performance appraisal forms, supervisors and
managers must make phone calls and send e-mails to give a picture of a
DAE’s performance and areas for improvement. In addition, it is not clear



52
  Of the other 4 regional cadre managers, 2 said that they had given unsatisfactory ratings
or that ratings were honest, and 2 did not mention this issue.




Page 27                                        GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
how performance appraisals are utilized in decisions related to
reappointment, performance deficiencies, pay, and promotions for DAEs.
FEMA headquarters has not provided guidance to regions to clarify these
issues, according to 13 of 16 regional cadre managers and OCCHCO. 53
According to an IWMO official, the office previously known as Disaster
Reserve Workforce Division had been actively involved in redesigning the
performance appraisal process, including improving the appraisal form
and maintenance of performance records. However, he said that when
the office was revamped and realigned into IWMO, the effort languished.
IWMO and OCCHCO officials noted in March 2012 that performance
management is a critical component of the supervision of DAEs and
stated that it must be improved in fiscal year 2012 during FEMA’s
Disaster Workforce Transformation effort. However, FEMA does not
currently have specific plans to revamp the performance appraisal
system. 54

We have previously reported that one of the key practices for effective
performance management is making meaningful distinctions in
performance, including providing management with the objective and fact-
based information it needs to recognize top performers and providing the
necessary information and documentation to deal with poor performers. 55
Similarly, we have previously reported that performance appraisals
should provide meaningful distinctions in performance for staff, which is
difficult to accomplish with a pass/fail system. 56 We also reported that a
limited number of performance categories may not provide managers with
the information they need to reward top performers and address
performance issues, as well as deprive staff of the feedback they need to
improve. 57 In addition, 13 of 16 regional cadre managers stated that the


53
  Of the other 3 regional cadre managers, 2 said that FEMA had provided guidance and 1
did not mention this issue.
54
  According to FEMA, FQS will not replace performance appraisals, and the system being
identified to support FQS does not store performance appraisal documentation.
55
  GAO, Results-Oriented Cultures, Creating a Clear Linkage between Individual
Performance and Organizational Success, GAO-03-488 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 14,
2003).
56
  GAO, Financial Regulators: Agencies Have Implemented Key Performance
Management Practices, but Opportunities for Improvement Exist, GAO-07-678
(Washington, D.C.: June 18, 2007).
57
  GAO, Veterans’ Benefits: Improvements Needed in VA’s Training and Performance
Management Systems, GAO-08-1126T (Washington, D.C.: Sept.18, 2008).




Page 28                                      GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                         appraisal process could be improved in various ways, such as
                         implementing a rating scale instead of a pass/fail rating. 58 Specifically,
                         using multiple rating levels provides a useful framework for making
                         distinctions in performance by allowing an agency to differentiate, at a
                         minimum, between poor, acceptable, and outstanding performance. We
                         have reported that two-level rating systems by definition will generally not
                         provide meaningful distinctions in performance ratings, with possible
                         exceptions for employees in entry-level or developmental bands. 59
                         Similarly, a 2007 preliminary report by Booz Allen Hamilton on the DAE
                         program found that there was a lack of standardization and fairness in the
                         performance review system, specifically that the system was not
                         managed evenly and did not distinguish between levels of performance. 60
                         The report noted that an inadequate performance review system affects
                         the development and assignment of DAEs, as well as their contribution to
                         FEMA’s overall response to disasters. Taking steps to establish a more
                         rigorous performance management system that addresses the
                         weaknesses we identified could help provide FEMA with more information
                         regarding how effectively DAEs are performing and a mechanism to
                         identify and improve any performance deficiencies. By providing clear
                         criteria and guidance for assigning ratings, as well as how the ratings are
                         to be used, FEMA could help to ensure that DAEs’ performance
                         appraisals better reflect actual performance and provide managers with
                         information to better inform performance management decisions.


                         FEMA’s DAE training is not consistent with key attributes of effective
FEMA’s DAE Training      training and development programs that could help to ensure that its
Is Not Consistent with   training and development investments are targeted strategically. FEMA
                         does not have a plan to ensure that all DAEs receive required training
Key Attributes of        under FQS, which would ensure accountability for qualifying DAEs. In
Effective Training and   addition, FEMA does not track how much it spends on DAE training,
Development              which hinders FEMA’s ability to plan for future training.

Programs


                         58
                           The other 3 regional cadre managers did not provide a response regarding how the
                         performance appraisal process could be improved.
                         59
                          GAO-07-678.
                         60
                          Booz Allen Hamilton, Preliminary Findings Report, 7.




                         Page 29                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
FEMA Does Not Have a        FEMA does not have a plan with time frames and milestones to ensure
Plan to Ensure DAEs         DAEs receive training, including required training for its new credentialing
Receive Required Training   program, FQS. FEMA provides the majority of its training to DAEs in the
                            field during disasters. Under FQS, DAEs must complete required training
                            and demonstrate successful performance in specific areas in order to be
                            qualified in their job title. Therefore, DAEs’ career track will be aligned to
                            their deployments, and subsequently tied to their opportunities to
                            participate in field training. Regional cadre managers and DAEs we spoke
                            with had concerns about the amount of training DAEs received during
                            disasters as well as FEMA’s reliance upon on-the-job training for new
                            DAEs due to limited training opportunities. Thirteen of 16 regional cadre
                            managers said that they would like more opportunities for DAEs to
                            receive training. 61 For example, one Human Resource cadre manager
                            said that required training courses were not available the past year, and
                            that some courses, such as those developed for human resource
                            managers, had not been offered for 3 or 4 years. In addition, one DAE
                            said that the amount of training they received was insufficient and added
                            that it was a disservice to the applicants for FEMA assistance because
                            DAEs may not know how to properly assist the public. Another DAE, who
                            also holds a management position, told us that half of the DAEs deployed
                            in Community Relations in his current disaster did not have any training
                            other than on-the-job training. Furthermore, IWMO officials said some
                            regions provide general pre-deployment orientation materials, such as
                            instructions on completing certain administrative tasks; otherwise, it is up
                            to the cadre manager to provide DAEs information pertinent to their
                            assignment prior to their deployment. Therefore, the extent to which a
                            DAE receives orientation depends on the cadre, the region, and the
                            timing of deployments.

                            Under FQS, DAEs will be assigned job titles, and each DAE will either be
                            designated as a trainee or qualified for that job title. For a DAE to become
                            qualified, they must complete required training and meet the minimum
                            number of deployments and various deployment experiences. According
                            to FEMA, approximately 20 percent of the current DAEs (2,005 of 9,981)
                            are considered trainees and will need training and future deployments to
                            become qualified. However, according to FEMA, as of March 2012, 136
                            courses were not available because they were being revised or not yet



                            61
                              None of the remaining 3 cadre managers provided a response concerning the topic of
                            providing more opportunities for DAEs to receive training.




                            Page 30                                      GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                            developed. In addition, FEMA stated that of the 136 courses, 83 are in
                            various stages of pilot testing and they have developed a schedule to
                            revise or develop courses through the end of fiscal year 2012. Officials
                            said that if a course will not be developed in the foreseeable future,
                            exemptions can be made for the DAE to be fully qualified if they have
                            completed the remaining requirements.

                            According to key attributes for federal training programs, agencies should
                            have agency planning documents such as training plans, and training and
                            development design and evaluation documents, which focus on
                            identifying targeted performance improvements and report on progress in
                            achieving results. 62 As previously mentioned, successful organizations
                            should also establish timelines for program milestones and deliverables. 63
                            According to FEMA officials, the agency has begun an initiative intended
                            to identify the number of personnel, by position, needed to respond to and
                            manage various incidents. It is also intended to determine the number of
                            training courses they will need based on the number of open position task
                            books. In fiscal year 2012 FEMA plans to implement this initiative as well
                            as FQS in order to develop a plan to train DAEs, according to the agency.
                            However, FEMA officials also said that qualifying all DAEs under FQS will
                            depend on each DAE’s commitment to making themselves available for
                            deployments and the level of disaster activity. DAEs are required to
                            update their availability for deployments at least every 30 days, and must
                            be available for deployments for at least 60 days a year. FEMA does not
                            have a plan or time frames in place to ensure that all DAEs are qualified
                            under FQS and receive required training; instead, FEMA is depending on
                            DAEs to commit to be deployed. A plan with time frames and milestones
                            for how and when it will train all of its DAEs will provide FEMA with a
                            roadmap and ensure accountability for qualifying DAEs under FQS.


Systematically Tracking     FEMA does not track how much of the Disaster Relief Fund is spent on
Training Cost Could Allow   training for DAEs while deployed to JFOs. As a result, FEMA does not
FEMA to Better Plan for     have a comprehensive picture of costs and expenses, and other financial
                            information related to training and development activities. All expenses
Future Training Expenses    incurred at a JFO, including training costs, are funded by the Disaster
                            Relief Fund. Comptrollers at the JFO are responsible for approving and


                            62
                             GAO-04-546G.
                            63
                             Project Management Institute.




                            Page 31                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
monitoring all the funds used at a JFO; however, they are not required to
track the training costs. The Disaster Field Training Operations cadre is
responsible for developing a training plan based on the training needs of
the DAEs deployed to a particular JFO. The training plan then must be
approved by the Federal Coordinating Officer. FEMA’s Deputy Director
for Field Operations said the plan does not include the costs associated
with the recommended courses unless the training is being provided by a
contractor. Costs associated with training—such as travel expenses, per
diem for the instructors, and copy materials—are all included in the
administrative costs of the JFO. FEMA’s Deputy Director for Field
Operations further stated that there is no accounting code specific to
training costs, therefore, the agency does not currently have the needed
information to identify those costs specific to completed courses. The
official added that FEMA maintains a few codes that have some
relationship to training, such as a code for training-related office supplies
and printing costs. The official noted that it may be possible to
accumulate all of the training-related codes that are currently in existence
and come up with an estimate of the total cost associated with training;
however, this figure would not provide a complete picture of training
costs.

FEMA’s Disaster Readiness and Support account is part of the Disaster
Relief Fund. It funds generalized, non-disaster specific initiatives such as
training that provides disaster readiness and preparedness support
across FEMA. In fiscal year 2011, the Disaster Readiness and Support
account totaled $304.7 million, of which $9 million was dedicated to
disaster-related training for all FEMA employees, including DAEs. Of the
$9 million, $3 million of this is dedicated to pay for the salaries and
benefits of DAEs while they are deployed solely for training. According to
FEMA, the amount of the Disaster Readiness and Support account is
determined by working with FEMA offices annually to review their
requirements. A spend plan is created and then reviewed and approved
by FEMA’s Deputy Administrator, DHS and the Office of Management
and Budget before transmittal to Congress.

Prior to fiscal year 2012, the Emergency Management Institute was
responsible for managing the $9 million in disaster specific training funds.
This responsibility is now with IWMO; however, according to IWMO
officials, they are still coordinating their efforts with the Emergency
Management Institute. According to the Emergency Management
Institute, it cannot separate how much of the Disaster Readiness and
Support account is spent on DAE training, except for the $3 million
allocated for salaries and benefits. According to IWMO officials, in fiscal


Page 32                                 GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                       year 2013 they will begin funding the majority of training courses in JFOs
                       using the Disaster Readiness and Support account rather than the more
                       general Disaster Relief Fund. As of March 2012, the fiscal year 2012
                       spend plan and projected future costs had not been finalized. However,
                       IWMO officials said that the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget for FQS is
                       $7.8 million, which was based on the training budget of prior years’
                       training as well as future needs. According to key practices for training
                       management, agencies should have accounting, financial, and
                       performance reporting systems that produce credible, reliable and
                       consistent data on agency activities, including training and development
                       programs. 64 Since FEMA does not know how much money it historically
                       has spent on training at the JFOs using the Disaster Relief Fund, it does
                       not have a complete picture of the total cost to train DAEs both at the
                       Emergency Management Institute and at the JFOs each year. Further,
                       FEMA does not have reasonable assurances that the proposed fiscal
                       year 2013 FQS budget is at an appropriate level to cover the total training
                       costs. Without a systematic process to track training costs, FEMA does
                       not have a complete picture of training, including its total costs.
                       Developing a systematic process to track such training costs would
                       provide FEMA with additional information to inform decisions about
                       allocating future funding for training and assist it in doing so effectively.


                       On April 17, 2012 FEMA announced plans to transform the DAE program.
FEMA Announced         Among the changes, FEMA will change the name to the FEMA Reservist
Impending              Program. According to FEMA, as of June 1, 2012, the agency will begin
                       offering DAEs the opportunity to seek new appointments in the Reservist
Transformation of      Program by applying for specific incident management positions within
DAE Program, but It    FQS. The Reservists selected at the end of the application process will be
Is Too Soon to         assigned to nationally managed cadres, which will replace all regionally-
                       based cadres by the end of 2012. FEMA announced that as of July 1,
Evaluate the           2012, DAEs who transition to the Reservist Program before the end of
Effectiveness of the   2012 will have their pay “grandfathered” into the new program and
                       therefore be exempt from the new rules regarding having pay determined
Agency’s Planned       based on their FQS position. In addition, FEMA stated it will establish a
Actions                goal and policy to deploy all Reservists at least once per year with the
                       length of the deployment depending on operational needs, which is
                       intended to ensure that all Reservists have the current incident response



                       64
                        GAO-04-546G.




                       Page 33                                 GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
              experience and demonstrated performance required by FQS.
              Furthermore, FEMA stated that it will begin providing Reservists required
              FQS training by utilizing a portion of annual deployment days and
              allowing Reservists to complete some mandatory training from home.
              Moreover, FEMA announced that it would be issuing Reservists mobile
              communication and computing equipment upon their first deployment, to
              ensure that they are mission ready immediately upon checking into a
              disaster and that they have continuous access to the FEMA network and
              FEMA e-mail, if they choose, regardless of deployment status. These
              efforts, if implemented effectively should address a number of the
              challenges we identified with FEMA’s management of the DAE program.
              However, FEMA has not identified specifics to these broad plans that
              allowed us to evaluate the effectiveness of its planned actions. Therefore,
              it is too soon to determine whether the planned actions will be
              implemented as stated and whether they will fully address the problems
              we identified.


              FEMA relies heavily upon DAEs to respond to disasters. The agency has
Conclusions   taken steps to improve the program, such as establishment of a
              credentialing program, FQS, and a planned transformation of the DAE
              program; however, it is too soon to assess the extent to which these
              efforts will address the challenges we identified with FEMA’s
              management of the DAE program, the workforce, and training. For
              example, while FEMA intends to provide guidance to cadre managers,
              including a revised FEMA Instruction 8600.1 by the end of 2012, FEMA
              has experienced difficulty in the past in completing similar efforts, such as
              the 2008 cadre management handbook that was never finalized. Thus,
              establishing time frames for completing deliverables such as the revised
              FEMA Instruction 8600.1 and a cadre manager handbook for DAE
              management would help ensure accountability for completing initiatives.
              Furthermore, FEMA’s decentralized structure allows for flexibility;
              however, establishing a mechanism to ensure ongoing monitoring of
              regional implementation of DAE policies and procedures and DAEs’
              implementation of FEMA’s disaster policies and procedures can assist
              management in ensuring that disaster assistance is conducted in
              accordance with policy and consistently applied across regions. In
              addition, establishing policies and procedures for how FEMA will
              communicate with DAEs and developing a plan with time frames and
              milestones for how it will better communicate policies and procedures and
              cadre-specific information to DAEs when not deployed would help ensure
              that it is providing DAEs with the tools they need to be prepared for
              disaster deployments.


              Page 34                                 GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                      Further, FEMA’s human capital controls do not adhere to internal control
                      standards for hiring, compensation, and performance appraisals. By
                      standardizing criteria for hiring and salary determinations, FEMA would
                      have greater assurance that DAEs have the necessary skills and
                      qualifications, as well as ensure consistency across regions. In addition,
                      taking steps to establish a more rigorous performance management
                      system would provide FEMA with more information regarding how
                      effectively DAEs are performing and provide a mechanism to identify and
                      improve any performance deficiencies.

                      Moreover, FEMA’s management of DAE training is not consistent with
                      training key practices for planning and tracking training costs.
                      Establishing a plan with milestones for training DAEs would provide
                      FEMA with a roadmap to train its DAE workforce and ensure
                      accountability for qualifying DAEs under FQS. Finally, developing a
                      systematic process for capturing training costs would provide FEMA with
                      additional information to inform its decisions about allocating future
                      funding for training and assist it in doing so effectively.


                      To help DHS improve the management of DAEs and build on some of the
Recommendations for   actions taken to date, we recommend that the Secretary of Homeland
Executive Action      Security direct the Administrator of FEMA to take the following seven
                      actions:

                      1. Establish timelines for development and dissemination of DAE cadre
                         management guidance and revisions to FEMA Instruction 8600.1;
                      2. Establish a mechanism to monitor both its regions’ implementation of
                         DAE policies and procedures and DAEs’ implementation of FEMA’s
                         disaster policies and procedures to ensure consistency.
                      3. Develop a plan with time frames and milestones for how it will better
                         communicate policies and procedures and cadre-specific information
                         to DAEs when they are not deployed;
                      4. Establish standardized criteria for hiring DAEs that include defined
                         qualifications and skill sets to make hiring decisions and salary
                         determinations;
                      5. Establish a more rigorous performance appraisal system that includes
                         criteria and guidance to serve as a basis for performance ratings, as
                         well as how ratings could be used, and a process to address
                         performance deficiencies;
                      6. Establish a plan with milestones to ensure all DAEs have
                         opportunities to participate in training and are qualified; and
                      7. Develop a systematic process to track training costs.



                      Page 35                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                     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 VIII. DHS concurred with the
                     recommendations and indicated that FEMA has taken or is taking steps to
                     address them. The actions DHS reported are important first steps;
                     however, FEMA’s implementation plans do not fully address one of the
                     seven recommendations, as discussed below. Moreover, insufficient
                     detail is provided related to FEMA’s plans for three of the
                     recommendations; thus it is not clear to what extent these plans will fully
                     address the three recommendations.

                     In regards to the first recommendation, that FEMA establish time frames
                     for development and dissemination of DAE cadre management guidance
                     and revisions to FEMA Instruction 8600.1, DHS agreed and stated that
                     FEMA Instruction 8600.1, which is now called the FEMA Reservist
                     Program Directive, was revised and, as of May 11, 2012, is in FEMA’s
                     Office of the Chief Counsel for final review. Furthermore, DHS stated that
                     the estimated timeline for approval and publishing of this instruction is
                     June 1, 2012. In addition, DHS stated that the Cadre Manager’s
                     Handbook, the FEMA Reservist Program Manual, the Reservist Pay
                     Directive, and the Reservist Handbook are being developed with an
                     estimated timeline for development, approval, and dissemination
                     approximately 90 days after the signing of the FEMA Reservist Program
                     Directive. It will be important that the FEMA Reservist Program Directive
                     align with the planned Disaster Workforce Transformation. These actions,
                     if implemented effectively, would address the intent of the
                     recommendation.

                     In reviewing the draft of the second recommendation that FEMA establish
                     a mechanism to monitor disaster policies and procedures to ensure
                     consistency, FEMA officials requested clarification, stating that the
                     recommendation was too broad as it focused on FEMA’s disaster policies
                     rather than DAEs. We agreed and modified the recommendation to more
                     clearly state that FEMA should monitor how the regions implement DAE
                     policies and procedures and how DAEs implement disaster policies and
                     procedures. DHS agreed with our revised recommendation and
                     discussed several actions it has taken or has underway to address the
                     recommendation. Specifically, it stated that (1) in December 2011, the
                     FEMA Administrator directed the agency to identify, review, and centrally
                     post all agency doctrine, policies, and directives, (2) all documents were
                     posted to their respective locations on April 13, 2012, and (3) the
                     agency’s policies guiding DAEs are now available on the FEMA intranet.
                     Moreover, FEMA stated that it has also established and is working to


                     Page 36                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
improve a number of mechanisms through which it validates compliance
with the agency policies and standards. FEMA also stated that
communication with reservists on disaster policies and procedures will be
initiated from FEMA headquarters to ensure consistency. FEMA has
taken actions to make policies and procedures readily available to
reservists; however, FEMA did not provide details about the mechanisms
it has established for its regions to monitor DAE policies and procedures
or DAEs’ implementation of FEMA’s disaster policies. Thus, it is not clear
to what extent these actions will fully address the recommendation.

In regards to the third recommendation, that FEMA develop a plan with
time frames and milestones for how it will better communicate policies
and procedures and cadre-specific information to DAEs when they are
not deployed, DHS agreed and stated that the FEMA Reservist Program
Directive requires Headquarters, Regional, and National Cadre
Management leadership to provide consistent two-way messaging to all
Reservists, deployed or not, through e-mail, websites, webinars, and
other outreach, and estimates that these efforts will be completed by
September 30, 2012. However, DHS did not provide details on the types
of information that it will be providing DAEs. Thus, it is not clear to what
extent FEMA’s planned actions will fully address the recommendation. To
fully meet the intent of the recommendation, FEMA needs to ensure that it
is communicating both cadre-specific and administrative information to
DAEs.

In regards to the fourth recommendation, that FEMA establish
standardized criteria for hiring DAEs that include defined qualifications
and skill sets to make hiring decisions and salary determinations, DHS
agreed and stated that the FEMA Qualification System (FQS) Position
Task Books define specific qualifications and skills for each required
position and will be the basis for establishing standardized criteria for
hiring Reservists, including pay. Currently, Position Task Books are used
to document and record tasks performed by the trainees, in order to
become qualified under FQS. It will be important for FEMA to define skills
and/or necessary experience applicants must have prior to being hired for
each position, and how if at all, any prior experience will impact salary
determinations. Without doing so, DHS will not fully address the intent of
the recommendation.

In regards to the fifth recommendation, that FEMA establish a more
rigorous performance appraisal system that includes criteria and
guidance to serve as a basis for performance ratings, as well as how
ratings could be used, and a process to address performance


Page 37                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
deficiencies, DHS agreed. DHS stated that upon implementation of the
FEMA Reservist Program Directive and the publishing of various
supporting directives and handbooks, FEMA’s Incident Workforce
Management Office will coordinate with FEMA’s Office of the Chief
Component Human Capital Office to develop a more robust Reservist
performance appraisal system that will, among other things, establish
performance standards, identify successful task completion, and improve
performance deficiencies. These actions, if implemented effectively,
would address the intent of the recommendation.

In regards to the sixth recommendation, that FEMA establish a plan with
milestones to ensure all DAEs have opportunities to participate in training
and are qualified, DHS agreed and stated that as part of the changes in
the DAE program through the Disaster Reservist Program, FEMA will
ensure that all DAEs have opportunities to participate in training and are
qualified to serve in a primary disaster-specific job title on the basis of
FEMA’s Force Structure requirements. Furthermore, FEMA plans to
complete this by September 30, 2013. However, DHS did not provide
details on how it plans to ensure that DAEs will become qualified by
September 2013, including when it will complete the FEMA Force
Structure which had not been finalized as of April 2012. It will be
important for FEMA to develop intermediate milestones to provide a
roadmap for how it will qualify its workforce. Thus, it is not clear to what
extent FEMA’s plans will fully address the intent of the recommendation.

In regards to the seventh recommendation, that FEMA develop a
systematic process to track training costs, DHS agreed and stated that
FEMA has combined all funding for FQS supportive training into a single
account to ensure a process for tracking training costs, course offerings,
and force structure requirements. DHS also stated that it will include all of
this information in the Incident Qualification Certification System—
intended to be the primary FQS tracking system—to track all FQS-related
training costs. In addition, DHS stated that it should be completed by
October 1, 2012. These actions, if implemented effectively, would
address the intent of the recommendation.

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


As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days from the
report date. At that time, we will send copies to the appropriate


Page 38                                 GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
congressional committees, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security and the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management
Agency. The report will also be available at no charge on the GAO
website at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff members have any questions about this report, please
contact me at (202) 512-8777 or jenkinswo@gao.gov. Contact points for
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found
on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions to
this report are listed in appendix IX.




William O. Jenkins, Director
Homeland Security and Justice Issues




Page 39                                GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
              Methodology



Methodology

              The objectives of this report were to determine (1) to what extent does the
              Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have policies and
              procedures in place to govern the Disaster Assistance Employee (DAE)
              program; (2) to what extent are FEMA’s human capital controls over the
              DAE workforce consistent with internal control standards; and (3) to what
              extent does FEMA’s DAE training incorporate key attributes of effective
              training and development programs. In addition, we describe FEMA’s
              initiative to transform the DAE program announced in April 2012 as it
              relates to the three questions above.

              We addressed each objective by reviewing relevant FEMA documents.
              To determine the extent to which FEMA has policies and procedures in
              place to govern its DAE program; and to determine the extent to which
              FEMA’s human capital management controls over the DAE workforce are
              consistent with internal control standards, we analyzed relevant
              documents on FEMA’s organizational structure as well as both program-
              specific and human capital-related guidance, policies, and procedures
              produced by FEMA headquarters and regional offices. We also compared
              FEMA’s human capital controls with criteria in Standards for Internal
              Control in the Federal Government. 1

              To determine the extent to which FEMA’s management of DAE training
              incorporates key attributes of effective training and development
              programs, we reviewed data on the following: training requirements, the
              location and frequency of training courses, course schedules, and the
              amount of funding dedicated to training from the Disaster Readiness and
              Support account (2009-2011) and the Disaster Relief Fund (2007-2011). 2
              We determined that the data was sufficiently reliable for the purposes of
              this report based on interviews with responsible officials about the
              integrity and reliability of the data to include controls FEMA has in place.
              We also reviewed policies and procedures on training requirements,
              FEMA’s Learning Management Systems, Joint Field Office (JFO)
              operations, and FEMA’s new credentialing program, the FEMA
              Qualification System (FQS). In addition, we observed Public Assistance



              1
               GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1
              (Washington, D.C.: November 1999).
              2
               The Fiscal Year 2010 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act required
              FEMA to submit a report of quarterly obligations of funds against the Disaster Readiness
              and Support (DRS).




              Page 40                                        GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




training attended by DAEs in a JFO. We compared FEMA’s management
of DAE training with key attributes of effective training and development
programs to determine the extent to which they are aligned. 3

To address all three objectives, we reviewed previous Department of
Homeland Security Inspector General Reports, and a FEMA sponsored
study conducted by Booz Allen Hamilton on FEMA’s disaster workforce. 4
We found the conclusions and recommendations drawn in each report to
be sufficient based on the methodologies used. In addition, we conducted
interviews with FEMA officials in headquarters and in the regions. We
interviewed officials in the following offices in FEMA headquarters: Office
of Response and Recovery, Incident Workforce Management Office
(IWMO), Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer
(OCCHCO), Emergency Management Institute, Office of Policy, Planning,
and Analysis (OPPA), Field Based Operations, Training Exercise and
Doctrine (TED), Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and
national cadre managers. In addition to interviews with officials in FEMA
headquarters, we conducted site visits to four FEMA regions. We
selected regions that were geographically dispersed and had a Joint Field
Office with Individual and Public Assistance programs operating as of
September 2011. In each of the four selected regions, we interviewed the
Regional Administrator and Regional Cadre Managers. In addition, we
visited one JFO in each of the selected regions. In each selected JFO, we
interviewed the Federal Coordinating Officer and Branch Chiefs from
selected cadres. We focused our interviews on the following DAE cadres:
(1) Individual Assistance (IA); (2) Public Assistance (PA); (3) Hazard
Mitigation; (4) Disaster Field Training Operations; (5) Human Resources
(HR); and (6) Community Relations. We focused on IA, PA, Hazard
Mitigation, and CR because these cadres are responsible for
administrating the disaster assistance program and interacting with the
public. In addition, we chose HR and Disaster Field Training Operations
because they are responsible for the management and training of DAEs.
In addition, we interviewed officials from the state emergency
management agency, for the state in which the JFO was located. Table 1



3
 GAO, Human Capital: A Guide for Assessing Strategic Training and Development Efforts
for the Federal Government: GAO-04-546G (Washington, D.C.: March 2004).
4
 The Booz Allen Hamilton report was preliminary and FEMA could not locate the final
report. FEMA stated that the report drew accurate conclusions and they are currently
addressing the observations from the report.




Page 41                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




lists the FEMA regions, JFO locations, and State Emergency
Management Agencies we visited.

Table 1: FEMA Regional Office, Joint Field Office, and Emergency Management
Agencies

                                                              State Emergency
 FEMA Region                         JFO Location             Management Agency
 Region 1, Boston,                   Springfield,             Massachusetts Emergency
 Massachusetts                       Massachusetts            Management Agency
 Region 4, Atlanta, Georgia          Birmingham, Alabama      Alabama Emergency
                                                              Management Agency
 Region 7, Kansas City,              Lincoln, Nebraska        Nebraska Emergency
 Missouri                                                     Management Agency
 Region 8, Denver, Colorado          Bismarck, North Dakota   North Dakota Department
                                                              of Emergency Services
Source: GAO.



To obtain the views of DAEs on issues related to all three of our
objectives, we conducted 16 focus group sessions with a total of 125
DAEs at the four selected JFOs. These sessions involved structured
small-group discussions designed to gain more in-depth information
about issues DAEs face. Discussions were guided by a moderator who
used a list of discussion topics to encourage participants to share their
thoughts and experiences as DAEs. Specifically, discussion topics
included the hiring process, training, policies and procedures, FQS and
communication by regional managers; however, not all topics were
discussed in each group. Each focus group involved 5 to 12 DAE
participants. There were four types of focus groups based on job titles: IA
and PA supervisors, IA and PA non-supervisors, and supervisors and
non-supervisors from other cadres other than IA and PA. We completed
written summaries of each focus group, and used content analysis
software to categorize responses and identify common themes across the
focus groups, using appropriate checks to ensure accuracy. The results
of the focus groups are not generalizable. However, the views we
obtained from them provided us with valuable examples of DAE
experiences. In addition, to obtain further perspectives from regional
management on hiring, training, deployments, policies and procedures
and FQS, we conducted follow-up interviews with 16 regional cadre
managers we interviewed during our site visits. In addition, we reviewed
FEMA’s April 2012 memorandum announcing the transformation of the
DAE program, but did not assess its planned actions to transform the
DAE program because the agency is in the early planning stages.



Page 42                                          GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and
Methodology




We conducted this performance audit from April 2011 through May 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.




Page 43                               GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix II: Categories of Disaster
                                       Appendix II: Categories of Disaster Workforce
                                       Employees



Workforce Employees


Name                                 Description
Disaster assistance employee (DAE)   Stafford Act federal employees who work on an on-call intermittent basis “forming the major
                                                                                             a
                                     workforce for FEMA in times of emergency or disaster.” They are also known as reservists.
                                     DAEs are temporary personnel appointed and compensated without regard to the
                                     provisions of Title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in competitive service.
                                     They are activated in direct response to a disaster declaration to support the work of FEMA
                                     at the disaster site. FEMA appoints DAEs in 2-year cycles, as intermittent employees who
                                     are deployed as needed for emergencies and/or disasters.
Cadre of on-call response/recovery   Federal employees hired under the authority of the Stafford Act on a temporary full-time
employees (CORE)                     basis for 2- and 4-year terms. These terms are renewable if there is ongoing disaster work
                                     and funding available. Similar to DAEs, COREs are temporary personnel appointed and
                                     compensated without regard to the provisions of Title 5, United States Code, governing
                                     appointments in competitive service.
Temporary full-time (TFT)            Temporary federal employees covered by Title 5 provisions. They do not have specified
                                     appointment periods. Federal Coordinating Officers (FCO) are included in this employment
                                     group.
Permanent full-time (PFT)            Permanent federal employees hired in accordance with Title 5, United States Code.
Local hire                           Staff locally hired under the authority of the Stafford Act for an initial period of 120 days.
                                     This period of time is renewable. Local hires augment the reservist workforce. They are
                                     hired for positions that “do not require FEMA-specific expertise, or when limited advance
                                                                                                           b
                                     training or minimal on-the-job orientation or training is sufficient.” In certain instances local
                                     hires may convert to DAEs.
                                       Source: FEMA.
                                       a
                                        Terms of employment, http://www.fema.gov/about/career/terms.shtm.
                                       b
                                        OIG: FEMA’s Management of Disaster Assistance Employee Deployment and Payroll Processes,
                                       Appendix C Director’s Policy 1-99, March 1999.




                                       Page 44                                            GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix III: Cadre List and Descriptions
                                           Appendix III: Cadre List and Descriptions




                                           There are 23 functional disaster cadres excluding the Disaster Generalist
                                           Group, which was created to augment the External Affairs, Individual
                                           Assistance, and Public Assistance cadres and provide surge staff when
                                           required.

Table 2: Cadre List and Descriptions

                      Managing                                                                                              Headquarters
Cadre                 organization         Description                      Primary duties                                  only
Alternative Dispute   Office of Chief      Helps to foster collaborative    •   Provides services including
Resolution (ADR)      Counsel              and effective disaster               consultation, dispute resolution and             √
                                           operations. Seeks to quickly         prevention, conflict resolution training,
                                           resolve situations that may          and meeting facilitation.
                                           distract disaster assistance
                                           workers from carrying out
                                           their mission.
Attorney              Office of Chief      Serves as the primary legal      •   Provides legal advice, instruction, and
                      Counsel              advisor to the FCO/Director          communication.                                   √
                                           and senior staff.                •   Provides guidance and interpretation
                                                                                of FEMA statute and regulations.
Community             Office of External   Provides outreach to             •   Provides field outreach to disaster
Relations (CR)        Affairs              community-based                      victims and community leaders about
                                           organizations and disaster           federal and state recovery programs.
                                           victims about federal and        •   Provides multilingual capabilities to
                                           state recovery programs.             help reach out to communities that
                                                                                may not be in the traditional
                                                                                information chain.
Comptroller           Mission              Serves as the Finance and        •   Advises the FCO and the Senior staff
                      Support/Office of    Administration Section Chief         at JFO.                                          √
                      Chief Financial      at a Joint Field Office (JFO),   •   Manages the funding process to
                      Officer              National Response                    ensure timely and sufficient funding to
                                           Coordination Center                  execute Stafford Act Programs and
                                           (NRCC), or Regional                  cover administrative costs at their
                                           Response Coordination                assigned JFO.
                                           Center (RRCC).
Congressional         Office of External   Coordinates dialogue             •   Coordinates the exchange of
Affairs               Affairs              between Federal efforts and          information between DHS, FEMA,
                                           the Congressional                    Members of Congress, and their staff.
                                           delegation of the affected       •   Responds to congressional inquiries
                                           area.                                and casework.
                                                                            •   Arranges site visits to help Members
                                                                                of Congress to understand the
                                                                                Federal/state/local response and
                                                                                recovery process.
                                                                            •   Develops a Congressional Affairs
                                                                                strategy for outreach and incident-
                                                                                specific objectives.




                                           Page 45                                           GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                                          Appendix III: Cadre List and Descriptions




                      Managing                                                                                            Headquarters
Cadre                 organization        Description                      Primary duties                                 only
Contracting/          Office of Chief     Deployed to support JFO          •   Initiates acquisitions. Plans for source
Acquisition           Procurement         operational acquisitions             selection.                                      √
                      Officer             requirements. Can also           •   Prepares solicitation offers. Evaluates
                                          support disaster acquisition         bids and proposals in accordance with
                                          operations requiring close-          the terms and conditions for the
                                          out in an effort to return           solicitation.
                                          funding to the Disaster Relief
                                                                           •   Implements the contract and monitors
                                          Fund.
                                                                               contractor performance. Monitors
                                                                               payments to contractors.
Disaster Field        Emergency           Delivers response and            •   Coordinates disaster training.
Training Operations   Management          recovery program-related         •   Delivers a wide range of training-
(DFTO)                Institute           training courses in a variety        related services.
                                          of training venues. Supports
                                                                           •   Assesses and evaluates the training
                                          the Training Unit within the
                                                                               needs of a JFO.
                                          Finance and Administrative
                                          Section at a JFO.
Disaster Generalist   Office of Response Supports Community                •   Establishes and maintains positive
Group                 and Recovery       Relations, Individual                 working relationships with the disaster-        √
                                         Assistance, and Public                affected community by collecting and
                                         Assistance cadres during a            disseminating disaster-related
                                         disaster declaration.                 materials.
                                                                           •   Identifies and reports potential issues
                                                                               within the community.
                                                                           •   Supplements other program areas as
                                                                               the scope of the disaster increases.
Environmental/        Federal Insurance   Ensures that FEMA’s              •   Preserves historic, cultural and natural
Historical            and Mitigation      activities related to disaster       aspects of national heritage.
Preservation          Administration      response and recovery,           •   Supports activities that achieve a
                                          hazard mitigation, and               balance between resource use and
                                          emergency preparedness               development.
                                          comply with federal
                                          environmental and historic
                                          preservation law and
                                          executive orders.
Equal Rights          Office of Equal     Possesses a background in        •   Civil Rights Resolution – works with
                      Rights              Equal Employment                     Community Relations, Public Affairs,            √
                                          Opportunity (EEO), Civil             Human Services, and other
                                          Rights, human resource               components to resolve Civil Rights
                                          management, conflict                 issues.
                                          resolution, and community        •   Provides advice and guidance to the
                                          organization.                        FCO on EEO and Civil Rights matters.
                                                                           •   Assists FEMA employees,
                                                                               employment applicants, and managers
                                                                               to resolve problems quickly, guide
                                                                               supervisors through downsizing, and
                                                                               process complaints that cannot be
                                                                               resolved informally.




                                          Page 46                                           GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                                            Appendix III: Cadre List and Descriptions




                      Managing                                                                                              Headquarters
Cadre                 organization          Description                    Primary duties                                   only
Federal Coordinating Office of Response Presidentially appointed.          •    Leads FEMA staff in field operations.
Officer (FCO)        and Recovery       Ensures the integration of         •    Responsible for executing Stafford Act
                                        Federal emergency                       programs in a timely and cost effective
                                        management, resource                    manner.
                                        allocation, and the
                                        integration of Federal
                                        activities in coordination with
                                        State, tribal and local
                                        government requirements.
Financial             Office of Chief       I Unit Leads, Funds Control    •    Manages the funding process.
Management            Financial Officer     Specialists/Managers, and      •    Maintains the accounting records of
                                            Travel Specialist/Manager in        the Disaster Declaration.
                                            the Cost Unit in the Finance
                                                                           •    Assists FEMA personnel with
                                            and Administration Section.
                                                                                preparation of Travel Vouchers.
Human Resources       Office of the Chief Focuses on recruitment,          •    Handles recruitment, staffing, and
(HR)                  Component Human management, and the                       payroll & time/attendance.
                      Capital Officer     direction of the people in the
                                          organization.
Individual Assistance Office of Response Provides direct assistance to     •    Applicant Services: Program
(IA)                  and Recovery       individuals and families.              Specialists perform registration intake,
                                         Members work at JFOs,                  referrals, and guide applicants through
                                         Disaster Recovery Centers              the FEMA assistance process.
                                         (DRC), shelter facilities, and    •    Mass Care Specialists: support state,
                                         the National Processing                local and tribal sheltering, feeding, and
                                         Services Centers. Supports             commodities distribution operations in
                                         state Mass Care operations,            coordination with Voluntary Agencies.
                                         administers funds to assist
                                                                           •    Voluntary Agency Liaisons: transfer
                                         survivors to rebuild and
                                                                                information between the Voluntary
                                         recover, coordinates
                                                                                Agencies and the governmental
                                         assistance with Voluntary
                                                                                assistance organizations, and also
                                         Agencies, and supports
                                                                                provide applicant referrals, assistance
                                         direct housing operations.
                                                                                with special needs cases, and support
                                                                                for donations management.
                                                                           •    Direct Housing Operations: Specialists
                                                                                support the installation of temporary
                                                                                housing units.
Information           Office of Chief       Maintains all forms of data    •    Installs, tests, and sets up IT
Technology (IT)       Information Officer   and telecommunications.             communications equipment.
                                                                           •    Acquires required equipment,
                                                                                supplies, or services.
                                                                           •    Networks access capabilities for all
                                                                                personnel.
                                                                           •    Maintains and repairs IT
                                                                                communications equipment.




                                            Page 47                                          GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                                       Appendix III: Cadre List and Descriptions




                   Managing                                                                                           Headquarters
Cadre              organization        Description                     Primary duties                                 only
Logistics          Logistics           Provides logistics capability   •   Develops, advises, and executes
                   Management          for the procurement and             logistics support course of action for
                   Directorate         delivery of life-sustaining         field operations.
                                       goods and services to an        •   Provides management of agency
                                       impacted population.                personal property accountability.
                                                                       •   Manages supply chain, warehouse,
                                                                           and transportation operation to source,
                                                                           order, transport, track, and distribute
                                                                           supplies, equipment, and services to
                                                                           support domestic emergencies.
Long Term          Office of Response Works with federal, state,       •   Helps communities identify long-term
Community          and Recovery       and local governments as             recovery plan.
Recovery                              well as the nonprofit and        •   Helps communities identify and
                                      private sectors to enable            coordinate resources and funding
                                      disaster-impacted                    sources for the implementation of the
                                      communities to identify              LTCR projects, programs, and
                                      opportunities, creating              initiatives.
                                      partnerships and maximizing
                                      resources for recovery.
Mitigation         Federal Insurance   Identifies measures to          •   Identifies risk reduction opportunities.
                   and Mitigation      protect lives and prevent or    •   Educates the public and local
                   Administration      reduce the loss of property         government officials in methods to
                                       from hazardous events.              reduce future risks.
                                                                       •   Promotes hazard mitigation
                                                                           community planning and project
                                                                           development that will result in
                                                                           sustainable community development.
                                                                       •   Provides grants to fund hazard
                                                                           mitigation projects.
                                                                       •   Assists communities in marketing the
                                                                           National Flood Insurance Program
                                                                           (NFIP).
Operations (OPS)   Office of Response Coordinates support to all       •   Develops and implements strategy
                   and Recovery       emergency management                 and tactics to carry out incident
                                      efforts and program                  objectives.
                                      implementation for               •   Organizes, assigns, and supervises
                                      Environmental and Historic           response resources.
                                      Preservation, Mitigation,
                                      Public Assistance, and
                                      Individual Assistance.




                                       Page 48                                          GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                                         Appendix III: Cadre List and Descriptions




                    Managing                                                                                           Headquarters
Cadre               organization         Description                    Primary duties                                 only
Planning            Office of Response Provides support to planning     •    Manages joint federal-state disaster
                    and Recovery       and information for disaster          plan development.
                                       operations.                      •    Oversees disaster information
                                                                             management such as situational
                                                                             awareness, record retention and
                                                                             dissemination and resource tracking.
                                                                        •    Provides geospatial expertise in the
                                                                             development of Geospatial Information
                                                                             System data, graphical displays,
                                                                             remote sensing, and map production.
                                                                        •    Facilitates meetings integral to
                                                                             incident action planning and
                                                                             operational decision making.
Public Affairs      Office of External   Provides information to the    •    Establishes and maintains ongoing
                    Affairs              public that would help them         relationships with the media to
                                         prepare for, prevent,               promote the agency’s programs,
                                         respond to, and recover from        goals, and core values.
                                         disasters.                     •    Provides disaster survivors with timely
                                                                             and accurate information, and manage
                                                                             communication.
Public Assistance   Office of Response Authorized by the Stafford       •    Provides grant assistance for debris
(PA)                and Recovery       Act. Provides supplemental            removal, emergency protective
                                       financial assistance to state,        measures and permanent restoration
                                       local and tribal governments          of infrastructure.
                                       and certain private non-profit
                                       organizations for response
                                       and recovery activities
                                       resulting from a declared
                                       disaster.
Safety              Office of Chief      Serves as technical advisor    •    Oversees safety and health activities
                    Administrative       to the Federal Coordinating         throughout disaster operations for all
                    Officer              Officer (FCO) on                    FEMA employees and personnel in
                                         occupational safety and             FEMA-managed facilities.
                                         health matters.                •    Provides safety and health training to
                                                                             all FEMA employees deployed to
                                                                             disaster operations.
                                                                        •    Serves as a technical resource on
                                                                             occupational safety and health matters
                                                                             for the FCO.




                                         Page 49                                         GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
                                 Appendix III: Cadre List and Descriptions




           Managing                                                                                             Headquarters
Cadre      organization          Description                    Primary duties                                  only
Security   Office of the Chief   Maintains responsibility for   •    Serves as the Agency Technical
           Security Officer      all internal security               Representative for contract guard
                                 processes at disaster               services, as well as conduct facility
                                 facilities and special event        vulnerability assessments on all FEMA
                                 assignments.                        disaster facilities.
                                                                •    Serves as law enforcement liaison.
                                                                •    Conducts preliminary inquiries on
                                                                     criminal and administrative actions.
                                                                •    Conducts background status checks,
                                                                     complete fingerprinting, badge
                                                                     operations, and coordinate the
                                                                     installation of alarm and closed-circuit
                                                                     television equipment.
                                 Source: FEMA.




                                 Page 50                                          GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix IV: FEMA Organizational Chart—
               Appendix IV: FEMA Organizational Chart—
               Highlight of Response Directorate’s Incident
               Workforce Management Office


Highlight of Response Directorate’s Incident
Workforce Management Office




               Page 51                                        GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix V: Disaster Assistance Employee
              Appendix V: Disaster Assistance Employee
              Program Office Reorganization Timeline, April
              2008 through May 2012


Program Office Reorganization Timeline,
April 2008 through May 2012




              Page 52                                         GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix VI: Incident Workforce
              Appendix VI: Incident Workforce Management
              Office Organizational Structure and Proposed
              Roles


Management Office Organizational Structure
and Proposed Roles




              Page 53                                        GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix VII: FEMA Disaster Assistance
              Appendix VII: FEMA Disaster Assistance
              Employee Pay Scale, Calendar Year 2011



Employee Pay Scale, Calendar Year 2011


               Grade                      A            B              C             D             E
               Level 1             $23,555        $29,627       $44,887       $65,093      $77,408
               Per hour             $11.29         $14.20        $21.51        $31.19        $37.09
               Overtime             $16.94         $21.30        $32.27        $32.91        $37.09
               Level 2             $25,162        $33,021       $49,436       $69,433      $82,567
               Per hour             $12.06         $15.82        $23.69        $33.27        $39.57
               Overtime             $18.09         $23.73        $32.91        $33.27        $39.57
               Level 3             $27,361        $36,699       $54,313       $73,773      $87,728
               Per hour             $13.11         $17.58        $26.03        $35.35        $42.03
               Overtime             $19.67         $26.37        $32.91        $35.35        $42.03
              Source: FEMA.




              Page 54                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix VIII: Comments from the
             Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
             of Homeland Security



Department of Homeland Security




             Page 55                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 56                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix VIII: Comments from the Department
of Homeland Security




Page 57                                       GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
Appendix IX: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Appendix IX: GAO Contact and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  William O. Jenkins, Jr. (202) 512- 8777 or jenkinswo@gao.gov
GAO Contact
                  In addition to the contact named above, Leyla Kazaz, Assistant Director,
Acknowledgments   managed this assignment. Martene Bryan, Landis Lindsey, Lauren
                  Membreno, Aku Pappoe and Michelle Su made significant contributions
                  to the work. Cynthia Saunders assisted with design and methodology.
                  Tracey King provided legal support and analysis. Linda Miller and Debbie
                  Sebastian provided assistance in report preparation. Robert Robinson
                  developed the report graphics.




(440966)
                  Page 58                               GAO-12-538 Disaster Assistance Employees
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