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  • FEMA Workers Don’t Know What Not To Do In Disasters

    Federal Emergency Management Agency employees aren’t told what to do first and what to set aside temporarily when disasters strike, a congressional watchdog reported.

    FEMA can’t manage its own workforce and has no process to direct which projects staff should temporarily abandon, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

    The federal disaster agency “has more than tripled the number of contracting officers it employs since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but it does not have a sufficient process in place to prioritize disaster workload and cohesively manage its workforce,” the report said. FEMA “does not manage its headquarters and regional workforce in a cohesive manner resulting in contracting problems that are sometimes missed or overlooked.”

    FEMA’s contracting officers manage large day-to-day contracts. But those officials are deployed in the field when disaster strikes. Consequently, contracting officers may be left with an unmanageable workload or will postpone high-priority duties unrelated to the disaster.

    The problem puts government efficiency and tax dollars at risk, as FEMA spent $768 million on disaster-related contracts between 2013 and 2014.

    Also, the number of contracting officers grew from 45 when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005 to 170 when Hurricane Sandy devastated New Jersey in 2012, the report said.

    Still, “FEMA struggled with attrition at times,” which “results in gaps,” the report said. “As a result, some regional offices have contracting officers with limited hands-on disaster experience, yet they are tasked with being the first response for contracting should a disaster occur in his or her region.”

    Retention issues can indicate morale issues, and “can impact mission accomplishment,” the report said.

    “Recent years of limited hiring has also adversely affected employee morale and turnover of personnel,” DHS GAO-OIG Liaison Office Director Jim Crumpacker wrote in response to the report.

    DHS employee morale is also rated as among the lowest in the federal government, which is partially due to congressional dysfunction, the Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported.

    FEMA recently underwent a reorganization that allowed more upward mobility for contracting staff, which should improve morale, Crumpacker told the GAO.

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    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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