GAO on FEMA Workforce Issues

Federal Emergency Management Agency: Additional Planning and Data Collection Could Help Improve Workforce Management Efforts GAO-15-437; released July 9, 2015.

The Diva has just done a quick reading of this new, 60 page report, and she notices that GAO seems peeved that for 8 years they have been asking FEMA for a strategic plan for their workforce but did not get one.

She welcomes reader comments, especially from those who have been part of the FEMA workforce. In the past, this topic was a hot issue. I am surprised to have so few comments.

3 thoughts on “GAO on FEMA Workforce Issues

  1. An anonymous comment from a veteran reservist after reading the GAO report:

    Yes, very low morale among reservists, more leaving everyday. Some of it not mentioned is many were retired and liked the old system of availability where we had to be available 60 days of the year and we just called in. Now it’s available 275 days, (was 305, until 7/1/2015 and an automated system that won’t take a request before 30 days out).

    Others feel that the younger people will take our jobs due to the proficiency with computers and technology. So, I think the retired said to heck with it and the ones who needed it for a living said “no more”.

    FQS is a joke. I’ve never worked in my cadre, which has 300 FTEs and 30 reservists. And I don’t think that many supervisors of the FQS really looked at our qualifications at all.

    Occasionally, some work experience, such as work with Native American tribes, makes an impression with those in charge. So at least I feel like a could be a useful body to fill a slot or if they need numbers.

    So personally, what they say about how they’ve used our FQS titles and the confusion about not working in them is true in my case.

    I thought the FEMA Corps part interesting. I I have worked with some and maybe they are good in our area. I didn’t realize that FEMA needs to look at what it cost for the program. 100 million on trying to interest young people for a job that is hard to get may be off the mark for the cost/benefit ratio.

    They have formed a working group to address the issues that are causing the most attrition. I don’t know what it’s accomplished, other than getting another month to be unavailable with no consequences. It seems the biggest complaint I’ve heard is that it is “Just no fun anymore”. So, morale is low due to that feeling of lack of teamwork.

    So, that is my two cents worth. The have been working on it for years now and we wonder why they just can’t get it together.

    The bottom line: too many changes in too short a time….

  2. The GAO missed the point. The answer is to rejuvenate the DAE/Reservist Cadre instead of decimating it. The DAE and now Reservist program, worked for 30 years, and at one point was responsible for FEMA being rated the highest federal agency with the highest moral. It is a proven, cost effective program that has been actively ignored for the last 6 years.

    The turnover in FEMA Corps and FEMA’s full time staff is a grave impediment towards future operations. The vast majority of institutional knowledge lies in the hands of long term employees. The military knows this fact and actively tries to retain it’s non-commissioned officers. FEMA has actively sought to replace their equivalent of corporals and sergeants with FEMA Corps and the Surge program. I submit that neither solution has, nor will work in the long term.

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