IG: FEMA acquisition workforce still not prepared
- By Alice Lipowicz
- Dec 22, 2008
Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s acquisition
workforce has grown in recent years, acquisition employees are not yet
fully prepared to handle major disasters, according to an independent
audit published Dec. 17 by DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner.
audit, prepared by the accounting firm Foxx and Co., recommends that
FEMA prepare a strategic plan for its acquisition workforce and create
policies and procedures for FEMA’s Office of Acquisition Management.
The strategic plan should focus on setting standard operating
procedures and rules for information sharing and communication, the
“FEMA has improved the capability of its
acquisition workforce in a number of ways,” states the audit, which was
posted on the DHS IG’s Web site. “For example, the acquisition
organization has been reorganized and management and oversight
improved, the number of acquisition staff has been greatly increased,
and FEMA has increased training for its acquisition staff.”
this is a good first step, FEMA does not have the necessary plans and
policies, or the well-prepared acquisition workforce, that it needs to
respond to disasters that result in extraordinary levels of casualties,
damage or disruptions,” the audit said.
Since 2005, FEMA’s
authorized acquisition staff has increased to 155, up from 55 positions
three years ago. FEMA has filled about 120 of those positions.
The audit also recommends that FEMA officials:
- Coordinate with other federal acquisition organizations involved in disaster response.
- Perform a staffing analysis to determine the appropriate size of the disaster assistance employee contracting cadre.
- Develop a succession plan for FEMA’s Office of Acquisition Management staff.
- Initiate a mentoring program.
- Design a rotation program to move field acquisition staff into headquarters, and vice versa.
- Provide training and guidance.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.