IG: FEMA needs centralized IT for disaster relief

IG recommends investment in IT system

The Federal Emergency Management Agency should centralize how it buys disaster-aid goods and services into a single system supported by integrated information technology systems, its parent department's inspector general recommends.

FEMA, part of the Homeland Security Department, currently uses a combination of warehoused goods, interagency agreements, new contracts and existing contracts to get disaster supplies and services, and decisions about disaster relief sourcing don't allow for centralized decisions, DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner wrote in a report published Sept. 1.

Also, FEMA’s processes for disaster relief sourcing are inefficient, duplicative, not strategic and not transparent, Skinner wrote.

“We recommend that FEMA adopt the single-point ordering concept and invest in the necessary information technology systems to make sourcing and supply movement transparent,” Skinner wrote.

FEMA agreed with the recommendation and previously had agreed in principle that it needs to implement a single-point ordering concept for disaster relief goods and services, the report said.

“However, implementation of this concept has been limited owing to existing stovepipes, overreliance on the existing sourcing process, and poor integration of information technology systems,” Skinner wrote.

Earlier this year, FEMA was seeking a contractor to help develop its Total Asset Visibility program in its logistics management unit to provide greater transparency into the purchase and disbursement of disaster-related goods and services.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Thu, Sep 3, 2009

Outsource the fuction to the military. DoD already supplies much of the quick-response supplies to FEMA, and has warehouses, contracts, and distribution systems in place.DoD is already chartered to do emergency support to civil agencies in disaster situations, so no new laws needed. And they already have a AV system in place. It isn't perfect, but it works. Why reinvent the wheel?

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