FEMA reaches staffing milestone

Event: June WIT.Connect - Government Leaders at the Helm

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Almost two years after the Federal Emergency Management Agency drew widespread criticism for its coordination of rescue and recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina struck, the agency has reached its goal of being 95 percent fully staffed, according to the agency’s director of management.

Deidre Lee announced the milestone at a conference hosted by Women In Technology (WIT) June 21. The embattled agency had aimed to reach the staffing milestone by June 1, the beginning of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Lee joined Linda Cureton, chief information officer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; Lisa Schlosser, CIO at the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Kathleen Turco, chief financial officer at the General Services Administration to discuss a wide range of management issues on a WIT panel.

The group of top government executives discussed topics including how presidential politics affect federal agencies, best practices for working with contractors and performance-based contracting. The women also shared anecdotes with the audience about how information technology is becoming an increasingly important priority for directors of federal agencies.

Cureton elicited the most laughter of the evening when she explained the need for results-based contracts using the example of getting a haircut. She said that when she micromanaged every detail of a haircut, the result was a disaster. But when she told the hairdresser what she wanted the end product to be, she got the best results.

She said the lesson is that the best arrangements between agencies and contractors are those that set clear, reachable goals.

The event was sponsored by 1105 Government Information Group, the parent company of Federal Computer Week.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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