Composition of FEMA workforce – what are they thinking? UPDATE on NOV. 15
NOTE ON MARCH 30 : PLEASE DO NOT SEND IN ANY MORE COMMENTS ON THIS TOPIC. I HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE OR ABILITY TO DEAL WITH IT. I KNOW THE PROBLEMS ARE SERIOUS, BUT I CANNOT HELP RESOLVE THEM. IF SOMEONE ELSE WANTS TO START A BLOG. I WILL HELP THE PERSON SET IT UP, IF NEED BE.
In the Sacramento Bee, there are some details today about the new cadre of workers FEMA has recruited; see Nation’s First FEMA Corps Members Sworn In to Begin Disaster Response Service. I was aware this effort was pending, and now know some more about it. To put it mildly, I find this personnel section decision distressing and here are my reasons why.
Many of us have expressed concerned about the quality and competence of the EM workforce and its personnel particularly at the national level. We have a sizeable supply of “educated” emergency managers—that is people who have been in higher education programs and actually have taken courses and have a year or more of higher education. Many of these programs exist in part because of FEMA’s Higher Education Program, which has been around for more than a dozen years and has encouraged more than 200 institutions to offer degrees and certificates in emergency management and homeland security. At the June 2012 Higher Education Conference, one of the concerns expressed was that graduates are not finding jobs. Most academics at the conference said they were telling their graduating students to look for jobs in the private sector. They don’t know why the public sector isn’t hiring them, but that seems to be the case.
While on the one hand we have this formally-educated potential work force, on the other hand we have the actual recruitment and hiring practices currently going on at the regional level. Last year FEMA had 99 disaster declarations. Assuming that more than 100 places throughout the US are in the recovery phase of a disaster, it is a tall order for FEMA to send staff and other resources to the states to help over 100 localities recover. From reports received from those working in the field on recovery projects, a large part of the workforce that FEMA is sending out to assist the affected places are what’s called Reservists or Disaster Assistance Employees (DAEs)—full time but temporary staff who are not regular FEMA personnel. Many of the DAEs do not have an education or a background in emergency management. They may, or may not be college graduates. They may or may not know much about emergency management. At best they probably have had some training but no formal education in emergency management. Large numbers of reservists are being employed to work out in the field and for the regional offices. They are being augmented by an inexpensive additional cadre from AmeriCorps composed of energetic and well-meaning, recent college graduates also with no education in emergency management. So, on the one hand there is a supply of well-trained, well-educated people who are not finding jobs, while there are a lot of people without an education or background in emergency management being given work. It seems to be a mismatch in the supply and demand for the EM workforce.