FEMA needs to bridge logistics software gaps: IG
Federal Emergency Management Agency information systems do not communicate well with those of their federal logistics partner agencies, audit concludes
The Federal Emergency Management Agency needs to fix some of its logistics software, according to a new report from Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard Skinner.
FEMA’s information systems do not communicate well with those of their federal logistics partner agencies, including the General Services Administration, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. A plan to reconfigure software to allow for those communications has been drawn up, but will not be fully functional for several years, Skinner wrote.
In addition, although FEMA is developing its $321 million Total Asset Visibility information technology program over seven years, it is not clear whether the program is on track, according to Skinner's report.
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The report recommended that FEMA determine whether the proposed Phase II of that program has the ability to support logistics operations, whether it is progressing on schedule and whether an independent evaluation of the system should be conducted. The evaluation also should look at the system’s staffing needs and coordination with partners, it said.
The report noted that although FEMA has improved its logistics, state and local logistics systems have lagged behind and are not likely to improve soon in the current economic environment.
FEMA officials agreed with the recommendations and said they would provide an implementation plan in 90 days.
After the Hurricane Katrina debacle, Congress required FEMA to reorganize and create a logistics management directorate to handle purchasing, managing and distributing disaster aid, including food, water and shelter.
The agency has increased logistics staff member levels, trained personnel, enhanced coordination, developed disaster plans and drills, worked with partners and evaluated performance. For example, since 2007, FEMA has almost tripled the number of permanent full-time logistics staff members from 54 to 150, and it reprogrammed 15 headquarters positions to the field, the report said.
“FEMA has made significant progress in enhancing its logistics capability and, based on recent initiatives, is better prepared now than at any previous time for dealing with a catastrophic disaster,” Skinner wrote in the report issued July 27.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.