FEMA training project managers

Emergency Preparedness and Response directorate

NEW ORLEANS — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is starting to address the lack of project management skills within both its own organization and the larger incident response group within the Homeland Security Department, said Rose Parkes, FEMA's chief information officer.

Project management skills are in short supply across government, and many agencies are finding different ways to address the problem. FEMA has identified some trained project managers, and officials are beginning to put candidates through formal training, Parkes said.

That step involves a huge investment on the part of FEMA, but it is necessary for the infrastructure of the agency and the department as a whole as the DHS Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate starts to reorganize by function — such as preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery — instead of along the lines of existing organizations, she said.

As part of the effort to improve project management skills at DHS, the Defense Department has offered to bring people in for training at the Defense Systems Management College, said Peter Verga, special assistant to the secretary of defense for homeland security. The college has plenty of experience teaching the skills necessary to manage projects that are on a scale common to DHS and DOD, he said.

Several of the current FEMA project managers already have gone through training at the college, Parkes said, speaking today at the Federation of Government Information Processing Councils' Management of Change conference.

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