Economic Development:

Management of the Federal Emergency Management Agency

GGD-83-9: Published: Jan 6, 1983. Publicly Released: Jan 6, 1983.

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Pursuant to a congressional recommendation, GAO reviewed activities at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assess its management systems and administrative support functions. The resulting report summarizes FEMA development since its creation in 1979 and notes the agency's efforts to identify and respond to organizational and management problems.

GAO found that FEMA management problems have resulted from startup activities associated with the reorganization and integration of five predecessor agencies into the newly created agency, which now serves as a single contact for federal emergency management activities. GAO determined that the most obvious problem is a lack of FEMA identity. Specifically, GAO stated that FEMA needs: (1) an agencywide management system; (2) a clear statement of its mission; (3) clearly defined goals and objectives; (4) long- and short-range planning; (5) information systems to compare planned and actual performance; and (6) internal assessments of program performance related to goals and objectives. GAO stated that these problems resulted in little accountability within FEMA. With respect to administrative support functions, GAO found that deficiencies compounded FEMA organization and management problems. GAO stated that, while improvements have been made in management and administrative support functions during the last 3 years, more needs to be done.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should evaluate the initial agencywide program and support activities' goals and objectives definitions to determine whether they are realistic, achievable, and to the extent possible, measurable.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should evaluate the agency outputs that correspond to program and support activity goals and objectives to determine whether they provide adequate and appropriate performance indicators.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should require a consistent planning process for internal directorate activities that would enhance the coordination and oversight of program activities that cross organizational lines.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should develop performance reporting systems to communicate progress toward program goals at the top, directorate, and regional management levels.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should establish a capability for conducting program evaluations throughout the agency.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should use program evaluation results, once available, in establishing future goals, objectives, and outputs.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should establish a plan that adequately reflects the activities and resources needed to achieve the 1983 goal of a fully approved and functioning accounting system.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should establish sufficient linkage between the planning, budgeting, and evaluation process to make each one an integral part of the overall management system.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should strengthen the central budget office's ability to adequately support top management during budget preparation and execution.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should improve the executive development program by implementing the recommendations made by the Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should develop and implement affirmative action plan goals as soon as the necessary information is available.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should complete the review and update of all inaccurate position descriptions.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should establish a capability in the Office of Personnel to assess whether performance plans are reasonable; relate to organizational goals, objectives, and tasks; and are measurable to the extent practicable.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should direct the Requisition Review Board to analyze yearend procurements for fiscal year (FY) 1982 and determine whether there is improvement over prior years.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: It had been the intention of this recommendation to control FY 1982 yearend spending. Relevance of this recommendation lapsed with the end of that fiscal year. However, FEMA is developing a capability to improve control of yearend spending for future fiscal years. Evidence of that capability is based on unverified testimony. Verification requires a more detailed review.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should develop a procurement reporting process that integrates with the accounting and budgeting systems and compares the actual and planned status of procurement actions.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A FEMA procurement official recently advised that the reporting system is now on-line and startup problems are being worked out.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should assign organizational responsibility within FEMA for improving or developing management information systems.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should establish formal periodic reviews of the agencywide mission and goals statement, which should be an element of the FEMA-wide planning process and could take the form of top management team building sessions similar to those that initially defined FEMA mission and goals.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should establish one or more management information systems to systematically provide top management with information for planning, implementing, and evaluating FEMA activities.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

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