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Highlights

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which provides direction to the federal executive boards (FEBs), is now emphasizing that in the post-9/11 environment, the boards have a transformed emergency support role. The report discusses the boards' emergency preparedness roles and responsibilities and their potential role in preparing for and responding to pandemic influenza. GAO selected 14 of the 28 FEBs for review because they coordinate the greatest number of federal employees or had recent emergency management experience.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Office of Personnel Management 1. To help improve the ability of the FEBs to contribute to the nation's emergency preparedness efforts, particularly given the threat of pandemic influenza and consistent with OPM's ongoing efforts in this regard, once OPM completes defining emergency support expectations for the FEBs, OPM should work with FEMA to develop a memorandum of understanding, or some similar mechanism, that formally defines the FEB role in emergency planning and response.
Closed - Implemented
In addition to integrating the Federal Executive Boards into national emergency plans, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Office of Personnel Management signed a memorandum of agreement on August 1, 2008. Among other things, the memorandum states that the federal executive boards and FEMA will work together in carrying out their respective roles in the promotion of the National Incident Management System and the National Response Framework.
Office of Personnel Management 2. To help improve the ability of the FEBs to contribute to the nation's emergency preparedness efforts, particularly given the threat of pandemic influenza and consistent with OPM's ongoing efforts in this regard, OPM should initiate discussion with the Department of Homeland Security and other responsible stakeholders to consider the feasibility of integrating the FEB emergency support responsibilities into the established emergency response framework, such as the National Response Plan.
Closed - Implemented
In January 2008, the Federal Executive Boards (FEB) were included in the National Response Framework section on regional support structures that have the potential to contribute to development of situational awareness during an emergency. In addition, in August 2007, the FEBs were integrated into the National Continuity Policy Implementation Plan issued by the White House Homeland Security Council.
Office of Personnel Management 3. To help improve the ability of the FEBs to contribute to the nation's emergency preparedness efforts, particularly given the threat of pandemic influenza and consistent with OPM's ongoing efforts in this regard, OPM should continue its efforts to establish performance measures and accountability for the emergency support responsibilities of the FEBs before, during, and after an emergency event that affects the federal workforce outside Washington, D.C.
Closed - Implemented
The Federal Executive Boards' (FEB) strategic plan for fiscal years 2008 through 2012 includes operational goals with associated measures for its emergency preparedness, security, and employee safety line of business. The data intended to support these measures includes methods such as stakeholder and participant surveys, participant lists, and emergency preparedness test results.
Office of Personnel Management 4. To help improve the ability of the FEBs to contribute to the nation's emergency preparedness efforts, particularly given the threat of pandemic influenza and consistent with OPM's ongoing efforts in this regard and as an outgrowth of the above efforts and to help ensure that the FEBs can provide protection of the federal workforce in the field, OPM, as part of its strategic planning process for the FEBs, should develop a proposal for an alternative to the current voluntary contribution mechanism that would address the uncertainty of funding sources for the boards.
Closed - Implemented
In February 2008, the Office of Personnel Management announced that it had won approval from the Office of Management and Budget to implement a new funding mechanism for the Federal Executive Boards (FEB) nationwide. The new funding mechanism establishes a mandatory charge to be paid by the agencies served by a particular board, based on the number of the employees in each board's jurisdiction area.

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