Review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Planned Relocation of Positions From Olney, Maryland, to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

LCD-80-47: Published: Mar 28, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 28, 1980.

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On June 19, 1978, the President transmitted a reorganization plan to Congress to improve federal emergency management and assistance. The plan called for establishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and consolidating a number of civil preparedness and disaster relief functions. FEMA is responsible for handling all emergency management and assistance functions in the federal government. It provides a leadership role in response to all natural and nuclear disasters, such as floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, riots, terrorism, and nuclear accidents and attacks.

The Director, FEMA, announced his initial plans and goals for consolidation of regional offices on August 31, 1979. The Director's primary concern was unifying all program staff at a single location. The Director addressed the relocation of all field offices but specifically directed that the Olney, Maryland, program be relocated to the federal regional city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. FEMA officials stated that it would be more costly to transfer positions to Philadelphia rather than to keep them in Olney, but cost savings was not a major factor in deciding to relocate. In fact, the FEMA decison to transfer program staff to Philadelphia was attributed to intrinsic managerial advantages to be derived from a consolidated work force. Thus, GAO was not in a position to question or validate the stated benefits.

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