Lieberman tells FEMA to centralize IT

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) has told officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to put FEMA's program offices under the authority of its CIO to coordinate IT spending.

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee wrote in a letter July 18 that FEMA cannot manage its IT systems and future investments properly with a do-it-your-own-way approach to building systems and needs to change its thinking.

“We call on you to ensure that the FEMA [CIO office] has the resources and support from [the parent Homeland Security Department] and FEMA senior level management necessary to manage and guide FEMA’s IT investments,” Lieberman wrote Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on July 18.

Lieberman wants quarterly briefings from FEMA and DHS management officials on how they are centralizing and integrating IT systems. He also included agency officials with 10 questions on how they plan to progress and whether they have enough resources.

The senator’s letter stems from a recent DHS inspector general report that said FEMA will continue to struggle with gaps in its disaster response IT systems unless it develops a comprehensive strategic plan, IT inventory and enterprise architecture.

FEMA also needs to bring its IT systems under one roof because its program offices and field offices have developed IT projects independently of the CIO’s office. That has led to many IT programs lacking the ability to integrate with others in the department, the IG reported. Read more about the report.

Lieberman wrote, “Given the importance of FEMA’s mission and the integral role that IT systems play in helping to fulfill that mission, it is essential that FEMA properly manage its IT investments.” Read Lieberman’s letter.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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