FEMA Criticized by GAO and DHS’s OIG – updated

I now have direct links to all of the reports. I have not yet had time to read them all, but they appear to be a significant recap of the many reports both the OIG and GAO have completed in recent years.

As of Monday aft., here is the revised version of what is available:

#1: From HS Today, article titled “FEMA Under Fire for Excessive Costs and Mismanagement of Disaster Aid Programs.” Some quotes from that article:

In an attempt to stem the increasing costs of disaster aid programs, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently advanced proposals to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster response and recovery programs.


The OIG and GAO detailed systemic risk issues within the various grant programs that have led to redundancy of disaster aid requests and managerial issues within FEMA.

The OIG report said many of those responsible for administering disaster grant programs have little to no experience managing federal grants and are often disaster survivors themselves, resulting in ineligible and unsupported costs and noncompliance with federal contracting requirements.


“In June 2011, we found that FEMA’s Strategic Human Capital Plan did not define critical skills and competencies that FEMA would need in the coming years or provide specific strategies and program objectives to motivate, deploy and retain employees, among other things,” GAO said. “As a result, we recommended that FEMA develop a comprehensive workforce plan that identifies agency staffing and skills requirements, addresses turnover and staff vacancies, and analyzes FEMA’s use of contractors.”


While demand grows for professionally trained managers, FEMA is forced to hire from a population pool with no real world experience or training in disaster management. Until this gap in experience is filled, FEMA will have no choice but to continue to hire unqualified managers and put those employees through extensive disaster management training.

#2: Here is the link directly to the GAO site for their recent testimony report (18 pp) titled FEMA: Opportunities to Achieve  Efficiencies and  Strengthen Operations.

#3: Here is the link to the DHS IG report based on testimony to the Senate on July 24 (38 pp).


Thanks to reader Christine Lilly-Holbrook for the URL for the last-mentioned report.

6 thoughts on “FEMA Criticized by GAO and DHS’s OIG – updated

    • I agree and have said something along those lines for a long time. Why we put novices in very complex and demanding situations is beyond me.

      As they say, you get what you pay for.

  1. I worked for FEMA for seven years.   Started as a local hire after Katrina/Rita and knew nothing about mitigation.  But I persevered, worked hard and finished my Bachelors in Emergency Management b/c I loved my job and hoped that would get me a PFT.    I watched folks sit on their phone in the hall for hours on end talking about whatever and I would be working hard.  But yet, FEMA chose those people that would rather not work.  FEMA has sooo many problems that can’t even be addressed.    FEMA  chose to keep people on and let the hard workers go (even the director of the LRO and other managers), but yet that’s ok. 


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