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As of April 18, 2018, there are 5,184 open recommendations, of which 465 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

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Results:

Federal Agency: "Federal Emergency Management Agency"

22 publications with a total of 57 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
Phone: (202) 512-8678

4 open recommendations
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA should assess different approaches, in addition to community assistance visits, for using existing resources to ensure communities' compliance with NFIP requirements. This should include analyzing alternatives to community assistance visits. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA should identify appropriate steps to ensure it has complete, up-to-date, and reliable records of community assistance visits, including information on why some visit records remain open for a significant period of time. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA should ensure that communities are consistently collecting data on their substantial damage assessments and that FEMA has a way to readily access those data to evaluate community compliance with NFIP requirements for rebuilding substantially damaged properties. (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA should clarify with NFIP communities its policies on sharing data on NFIP claims and provide such information to those communities as needed. (Recommendation 4)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Director: Christopher Currie
Phone: (404) 679-1875

3 open recommendations
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should develop a plan—with time frames and milestones and input from field leadership—to address identified challenges that have hindered FEMA's ability to provide reliable and complete information to field leaders and managers about staff knowledge, skills, and abilities. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should develop mechanisms, including collecting relevant data, to assess how effectively FEMA's disaster workforce was deployed to meet mission needs in the field. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should create a staff development program for FEMA's disaster workforce that, at a minimum, addresses access to training, delivery of on-the-job training and mentoring, use of performance evaluations, and consistent developmental opportunities regardless of deployment status. (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Director: Chris Currie
Phone: (404) 679-1875

4 open recommendations
Recommendation: FEMA should, following the completion of the 2021 National Preparedness Report, determine what steps are needed to address the nation's emergency management capability gaps across all levels of government and inform key stakeholders, such as the Office of Management and Budget and Congress, about what level of resources will be necessary to address the known gaps. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: FEMA should develop guidance to help determine which after-action reviews should be prioritized based on factors, such as the severity of disasters and availability of staff and resources to conduct the review, and implement time frames for following up on incomplete after-action reports. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: FEMA should develop a mechanism to consistently track best practices, lessons learned, and corrective actions that have been elevated to headquarters for resolution. (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: FEMA should develop guidance on sharing after-action reports and their relevant findings with external stakeholders, when appropriate. (Recommendation 4)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Director: Andrew Von Ah
Phone: (202) 512-2834

2 open recommendations
Recommendation: The Director of the IPAWS program should document how it plans to address key actions needed to educate alerting authorities in their use of IPAWS and implement a mechanism that will allow FEMA to regularly and systematically obtain and analyze feedback on alerting authorities' educational needs. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The Director of the IPAWS program should establish procedures to prioritize pending IPAWS applications and to follow up with applicants to address these applications. (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Director: Chris Currie
Phone: (404) 679-1875

2 open recommendations
Recommendation: The FEMA administrator should revise FEMA's cost-estimating guidance for Public Assistance projects to fully align with all 12 steps in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The FEMA administrator should develop a repository for all current applicable Public Assistance policies and guidance for Puerto Rico and make it available to all recovery partners, including subrecipients. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Director: Chris Currie
Phone: (202) 512-8777

2 open recommendations
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should evaluate the agency's options for providing future emergency sheltering assistance. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should assess the need for an agency-wide consolidated standard operating procedures document for the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program that provides detailed information on the roles and responsibilities, requirements, and key tasks and milestones for monitoring and closing out program projects. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Director: Christopher Currie
Phone: (404) 679-1875

1 open recommendations
Recommendation: We recommend that the FEMA Administrator comprehensively assess operations to identify any additional updates to its management controls—such as policies, procedures, or training—that could enhance future response and recovery from large-scale and severe wildfires. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation. In written comments, DHS described a number of ongoing and planned actions that it plans to leverage in addressing our recommendation. These actions include, among other things, the use of sheltering and housing field teams to support states' efforts to house disaster survivors; continued updates to direct housing guidance; developing guidance for the use of FEMA-issued, state-administered direct housing grants authorized by the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018; and development of a project to analyze and improve capabilities and identify areas of innovation in response to wildfire disaster. To respond to this recommendation, DHS will need to demonstrate that it has done a broad-based review of management controls--policies, procedures, and training--and taken action to ensure than any changes necessary to ensure the applicability of those controls to response and recovery for large-scale and severe wildfires.
Director: Frank Rusco
Phone: 2025123841

3 open recommendations
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA should develop and provide clear written information in the form of policy, guidance, or regulations, as appropriate, to COR3 and PREPA that clarifies how FEMA will implement new authorities for the electricity grid recovery in Puerto Rico, including guidance on industry standards and defining resilience. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA, in coordination with DOE, HUD, and other federal and local entities, should establish a mechanism, or take steps to improve existing mechanisms, for coordination among the multiple local and federal entities involved in grid recovery that facilitates decision-making and information sharing among local and federal agencies. (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA, in coordination with DOE, should establish an interagency agreement to define roles and responsibilities to clarify how FEMA will consult with DOE in grid recovery planning, implementation, and decision-making. (Recommendation 4)

Agency: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Director: Kathryn A. Larin
Phone: (202) 512-7215

4 open recommendations
Recommendation: To better clarify what mass care services voluntary organizations can provide, especially for severe or overlapping hurricanes, FEMA should strengthen its guidance to state and local governments to emphasize the importance of clearly defining roles and responsibilities related to mass care when state and local governments develop written agreements with partner organizations. This could include creating a guidance document or memo that calls attention to the issue and brings together existing resources, such as the Multi-Agency Feeding Plan Template and training materials, in a comprehensive and accessible manner. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS and FEMA concur with this recommendation and will take steps to address it, although they didn't specify their plans.
Recommendation: To ensure assistance reaches all survivors, FEMA should develop mechanisms for the agency and its partners to leverage local community groups, such as conducting regular outreach to communicate and share aggregate information with these groups.(Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS and FEMA agreed with this recommendation. They detailed several approaches they use to connect with local resources, including collaborating with VOAD groups at national, state, and local levels, and indicated that they consider this recommendation already implemented. Given the information gathered from several unaffiliated organizations in areas affected by the 2017 disasters, it is clear there is more work to be done in terms of sharing critical information about mass care needs and resources. Therefore, we believe FEMA should develop additional mechanisms to enhance outreach to organizations that may not be aware of existing approaches such as collaboration with the VOAD groups.
Recommendation: To ensure more accurate mass care capability assessments, FEMA should require grantees to solicit capabilities information from key mass care service-delivery providers in making capability estimates and identify these providers in their submissions. (Recommendation 4)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS and FEMA did not concur with this recommendation. The agencies said implementing this recommendation would increase the burden on grantees and could put certain communities at a disadvantage because grantees cannot control which partners participate. In addition, DHS and FEMA said that because capabilities assessments are not limited to mass care, such a requirement may have unintended consequences for other partners. FEMA plans to continue working with the mass care community to identify the best solution, including encouraging collaboration at all levels of government. Our recommendation specifies that FEMA should require grantees to solicit information from key mass care partners and to identify these partners in their submission. We recognize that grantees cannot compel partners to participate, but they can, at a minimum, invite such partners to participate in the process. We continue to believe that grantees should be required to make an effort to include mass care providers in developing their mass care capability assessments, as this is vital for developing high quality assessments. FEMA has emphasized the importance of having an active relationship and ongoing communication with key partners before disasters strike. In its Strategic Plan, FEMA states that pre-disaster coordination and communication among partners is critical to improve response and recovery outcomes. Thus, we do not believe it would be an undue burden to reach out to such partners as part of the capability assessment process.
Recommendation: To build the emergency preparedness capabilities of grantees, FEMA should develop systematic, documented protocols to determine the conditions under which it will follow up and provide feedback to grantees about mass care capability assessments. (Recommendation 5)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS and FEMA concur with this recommendation and will take steps to address it, although they didn't specify their plans.
Director: Elizabeth Curda
Phone: (202) 512-7215

4 open recommendations
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should develop and publicize guidance for partners working to assist individuals who are older or have disabilities for requesting data and working with FEMA staff throughout the data sharing process to obtain Individual Assistance data, as appropriate. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS agreed with this recommendation and has plans to address it. Specifically, FEMA is developing new, enhanced templates, policies and guidance for field staff to facilitate data sharing with states and other partners. The agency also reported that it is expanding its Open FEMA datasets to provide more autonomous, self-service sharing of aggregated data to fulfill partner data needs when personally identifiable information data is not required. FEMA plans to publish data sharing guidelines on its web site by March 31, 2020 on how to obtain FEMA data to best service individuals who are older or have disabilities.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should improve communication of registrants' disability-related information across FEMA programs, such as by developing an alert within survivor files that indicates an accommodation request. (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA disagreed with this recommendation, noting that it lacks specific funding to augment the legacy data systems that capture and communicate registration information. Also, FEMA began a long-term initiative in April 2017 to improve data management and exchange, and improve overall data quality and standardization. The agency expects the initiative to include the development of a modern, cloud-based data storage system with a data analytics platform that will allow analysts, decision makers, and stakeholders more ready access to FEMA data. After the completion of this initiative, FEMA expects that efforts to share and flag specific disability-related data will be much easier. Our recommendation, however, is not solely focused on system changes: other cost-effective ways may improve communication of registrants' disability-related information prior to implementing the system upgrades. For example, as noted in the report, FEMA officials handling different stages of the disaster assistance process may overlook disability-related needs recorded in the case file notes. FEMA could revise its guidance to remind program officials to review the notes to identify whether there is a record of any such needs. As FEMA moves ahead with its data improvement initiatives, we encourage it to consider and ultimately implement technology changes, such as developing an alert within files that indicates an accommodation request. Such improvements would be consistent with the recommendation and help improve communication across FEMA programs.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should communicate to Regional Administrators and Regional Disability Integration Specialists a written plan for implementing its new disability integration staffing approach, consistent with the objectives established for disability integration. Such a plan should include an implementation timeline and details on staff responsibilities, which regions could use to evaluate staff performance. (Recommendation 5)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS agreed with this recommendation, reporting that it is developing a project plan to implement the proposed staffing approach in the Regions. The plan will include implementation timelines, detailed roles and responsibilities for the proposed Disability Integration Advisor positions, a force structure for each Region, and recommendations to the Regional Administrator to establish performance metrics for the new positions that support the overall approach to disability integration. The plan will be presented to the Administrator for review and concurrence in 2019.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should develop a plan for delivering training to FEMA staff that promotes competency in disability awareness. The plan should include milestones and performance measures, and outline how performance will be monitored. (Recommendation 6)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and has plans to improve disability competencies among FEMA staff, but it does not include training. Specifically, FEMA is developing a plan to include a disability integration competency in the position task books for all deployable staff, rather than through training. Position task books outline the required activities, tasks, and behaviors for each job, and serve as a record for task completion. The plan will also include a communications and outreach plan; milestones for measuring the effectiveness of the integration of this competency across the agency; and a monitoring plan and milestones to measure the overall integration of this competency across the deployable workforce. However, the plan doesn't cover how it will deliver training to promote competency in disability awareness among its staff, including milestones, performance measures, and how performance will be monitored.
Director: Marie A. Mak
Phone: (202) 512-4841

2 open recommendations
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should take the lead to work together with the Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revise the mission assignment policy and related guidance to better incorporate consideration of contracting needs, such as demobilization, and to ensure clear communication of coordination responsibilities related to contracting. (Recommendation 9)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) concurred with the recommendation. In its response, FEMA stated it would work with its Federal partners and develop mission assignment project management tools and training. In addition, FEMA is planning to develop a Mission Assignment Project Manager Guide to provide guidance to address the issues GAO identified. As of August 2019, these actions were still in progress.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should assess its workforce needs—including staffing levels, mission needs, and skill gaps—for contracting staff, to include regional offices and DART; and develop a plan, including timelines, to address any gaps. (Recommendation 10)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) concurred with this recommendation. In its official response, FEMA stated it would take actions to address this recommendation, including hiring contractor support and additional Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery Employees. As of August 2019, these actions were still in progress.
Director: Carol C. Harris
Phone: (202) 512-4456

6 open recommendations
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should ensure that the GMM program management office finalizes the organizational change management plan and time frames for implementing change management actions. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to implement it.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should ensure that the GMM program management office updates the program schedule to address the leading practices for a reliable schedule identified in this report. (Recommendation 4)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to implement it.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should ensure that the FEMA Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) defines sufficiently detailed planned evaluation methods and actual evaluation methods for assessing security controls. (Recommendation 5)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to implement it.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should ensure that the FEMA OCIO approves a security assessment plan before security assessment reviews are conducted. (Recommendation 6)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to implement it.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should ensure that the GMM program management office follows DHS guidance on preparing corrective action plans for all security vulnerabilities. (Recommendation 7)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to implement it.
Recommendation: The FEMA Administrator should ensure that the GMM program management office fully tests all of its security controls for the system. (Recommendation 8)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation. We will continue to monitor the department's efforts to implement it.
Director: Marie A. Mak
Phone: (202) 512-4841

7 open recommendations
Recommendation: FEMA's Administrator should update the strategy identified in its 2007 Advance Contracting of Goods and Services Report to Congress to clearly define the objectives of advance contracts, how they contribute to FEMA's disaster response operations, and whether and how they should be prioritized in relation to new post-disaster contract awards. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and stated in July 2019 that it plans to develop a FEMA Acquisition Manual that will provide clear definitions, objectives, and instructions to properly plan, award, and administer current and future advance contracts. In addition, FEMA intends for the Acquisition Manual to include information on the use of advance contracts in relation to the establishment of post-disaster contracts. FEMA also plans to update its Disaster Contracting Desk Guide, which will provide more operational direction based on the guidance identified in the FEMA Acquisition Manual. According to FEMA officials, they anticipate that the FEMA Acquisition Manual will be completed by the end of calendar year 2019, followed by an update to the Disaster Contracting Desk Guide before the start of the 2020 disaster season.
Recommendation: FEMA's Administrator should ensure the Head of the Contracting Activity updates the Disaster Contracting Desk Guide to include guidance for whether and under what circumstances contracting officers should consider using existing advance contracts prior to making new post-disaster contract awards, and include this guidance in existing semi-annual training given to contracting officers. (Recommendation 2)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and stated in July 2019 that it plans to develop a FEMA Acquisition Manual that will provide clear guidance on prioritizing existing advance contracts over new-post-disaster contracts. In addition, FEMA officials stated that the Acquisition Manual will include definitions, objectives, and instructions to properly plan, award, and administer current and future advance contracts. FEMA also plans to update its Disaster Contracting Desk Guide, which will provide more operational direction based on the guidance identified in the FEMA Acquisition Manual. According to FEMA officials, they anticipate that the FEMA Acquisition Manual will be completed by the end of calendar year 2019, followed by an update to the Disaster Contracting Desk Guide before the start of the 2020 disaster season.
Recommendation: FEMA's Administrator should update and implement existing guidance for program office and contracting officer personnel to identify acquisition planning timeframes and considerations across the entire acquisition planning process, and clearly communicate the purpose and use of a Master Acquisition Planning Schedule (MAPS). (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and provided documentation in July 2019 of steps it has taken to communicate the purpose and use of the 5-Year Master Acquisition Planning Schedule. These steps include updating fiscal year 2019 training slides, sending initiation memos to senior leaders within FEMA's directorates requesting their participation in the Integrated Project Team process, and identifying the date acquisition packages should be completed to allow for new contracts to be awarded on time. However, FEMA has not yet updated guidance for program and contracting officer personnel to identify acquisition planning timeframes and considerations across the entire acquisition process. Specifically, FEMA's Procurement Acquisition Lead Time guidance, distributed annually to all FEMA managers, continues to include recommended lead times for awarding contracts once the acquisition package is completed, but does not include comparable recommended timeframes for the completion of the acquisition package to inform the full acquisition planning process conducted by program and contracting officer personnel.
Recommendation: FEMA's Administrator should ensure the Head of the Contracting Activity reminds contracting officers of the three day timeframe for entering completed award documentation into the contract writing system when executing notice to proceed documentation. (Recommendation 5)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and stated in July 2019 that it included training on Notice to Proceed reporting requirements in their April 2019 Mission Rehearsal Training, provided to headquarters and regional contracting staff. FEMA officials also stated they plan to develop a FEMA Acquisition Manual that will incorporate Notice to Proceed procedures. FEMA anticipates completing its FEMA Acquisition Manual by the end of calendar year 2019.
Recommendation: FEMA's Administrator should ensure the Head of the Contracting Activity revises the Disaster Contracting Officer Desk guide to provide specific guidance for contracting officers to perform outreach to state and local governments on the use and establishment of advance contracts. (Recommendation 7)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and stated in July 2019 that it is establishing an external website, or toolkit that will provide specific guidance to state and local governments on the use and establishment of advance contracts. According to FEMA officials they also plan to update the Disaster Contracting Desk Guide with instructions to contracting officers to direct state and local governments to the toolkit, and make states and localities aware of the use and establishment of advance contracts. FEMA expects the update to the Disaster Contracting Desk Guide will be completed before the start of the 2020 disaster season but does not have an estimate at this point for when the toolkit will be finalized.
Recommendation: FEMA's Administrator should ensure the Head of the Contracting Activity identifies a single centralized resource listing its advance contracts and ensure that source is updated regularly to include all available advance contracts. (Recommendation 8)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and stated in July 2019 that it had initiated bi-weekly Procurement Disaster Strategy meetings with leadership from OCPO and the program offices, branch chiefs, and contracting officers from headquarters and the regions to, among other things, review advance contracts to ensure needed commodities are available in support of disasters. FEMA also stated that it intends for its advance contracts list, updated monthly, to be the centralized resource used to communicate advance contracts internally within FEMA and externally to state and local governments. However, our review of FEMA's July 2019 advance contract list and semi-annual training documentation provided in May 2019 continued to find differences in the advance contracts listed, including contracts that were identified in the May 2019 training that were not reflected on the July 2019 advance contract list. We maintain that FEMA needs to ensure it has a resource that includes all available advance contracts for there to be visibility and awareness of what contracts are available for FEMA's use, and the types of contracts states and localities could consider establishing themselves.
Recommendation: FEMA's Administrator should ensure the Head of the Contracting Activity communicates information on available advance contracts through the centralized resource to states and localities to inform their advance contracting efforts. (Recommendation 9)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA agreed with this recommendation and stated in July 2019 that it is updating information to communicate with state and local government on its toolkit, and that it will provide the advance contract list, along with other acquisition templates and information, for states and localities to reference. FEMA officials also stated they will help states and localities to establish their own advance contracts to support disaster response efforts. FEMA officials did not have an estimate at this point for when the toolkit will be finalized.
Director: Mark Goldstein
Phone: (202) 512-2834

1 open recommendations
Recommendation: The Administrator of FEMA should work with regional emergency communications coordination working group members to reach consensus on and implement an ongoing mechanism to encourage nationwide collaboration across these groups, considering the costs of one or more suitable methods, such as a national-level working group that uses virtual or other means of coordination, as appropriate. (Recommendation 1)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with our recommendation. DHS stated they solicit member recommendations and use this input to develop a proposed national engagement approach with projected resources and begin implementing the approach in late 2019. We will follow up on DHS's actions to implement the recommendation.
Director: Allison Bawden
Phone: (202) 512-6806

2 open recommendations
Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Recovery should develop a detailed workforce plan that documents steps for hiring, training, and retaining key appeals staff. The plan should also address staff transitions resulting from deployments to disasters. (Recommendation 3)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, to prepare for the potential production of a detailed regional workforce plan, PAAB (Public Assistance Appeals Branch) has been collecting information from the Regions regarding the percentage of time (on a monthly basis) that each Regional appeals analyst has worked on appeals. In August 2018, PAAB shared with the Regions its preliminary analysis of this information and asked the Regions to provide feedback regarding the methods used to analyze this information. PAAB said that they intend to assess first-level appeals' regional inventory and timeliness issues, as well as the work needed to prepare and finalize a detailed regional workforce plan. According to FEMA, PAAB is also analyzing second-level appeal inventory and timeliness, and will continue to monitor second-level appeal timeliness. In May 2019, FEMA sent us additional information and documentation involving their analysis of appeal inventory and timeliness. As of October 2019, we are evaluating the information provided by FEMA and will be meeting with them to discuss whether they have fully addressed this recommendation.
Recommendation: The Assistant Administrator for Recovery should work with Regional Administrators in all 10 regional offices, to establish and use goals and measures for processing first-level PA appeals to monitor performance and report on progress. (Recommendation 4)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: DHS concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. According to FEMA, in July 2018, the Public Assistance Division and PAAB transmitted a survey to the Regions containing questions about how each Region establishes goals for processing first-level appeals and how each Region measures and monitors performance with respect to those goals. Thereafter, the Regions provided survey responses to PAAB. According to FEMA, PAAB has begun analyzing the survey responses for the purpose of enabling FEMA's Associate Administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery and FEMA's Chief of Staff to work with all FEMA Regional Administrators to establish and use goals and measures for processing first-level PA appeals to monitor performance and report on progress. In September 2019, FEMA sent us additional information and documentation involving these efforts. We are evaluating the information and documentation provided by FEMA and will be meeting with them to discuss whether they have fully addressed this recommendation.
Director: Chris Currie
Phone: (404) 679-1875

1 open recommendations
Recommendation: The FEMA Assistant Administrator for Recovery, in coordination with the Associate Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, should develop performance measures and associated objectives for the new delivery model to better align with FEMA's strategic goal for hazard mitigation in the recovery process. (Recommendation 5)

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency: Office of Response and Recovery: Assistant Administrator for Recovery
Status: Open

Comments: FEMA concurred with this recommendation and said it would take steps to implement it. As of September 2018, officials reported completing activities to develop disaster-specific mitigation performance measures that align with strategic goals and analyzed available data to identify the drivers of mitigation in events of various sizes. Due to hiring delays associated with the establishment of the 406 Mitigation Branch, officials have extended the expected completion date for all actions, including proposing refined performance measures to FEMA senior leadership, to the end of January 2019. As of December 2019, GAO is awaiting a response from FEMA on their progress completing these actions.
Director: Alicia Puente Cackley
Phone: (202) 512-8678

1 open recommendations
Recommendation: To improve the transparency and accountability over the compensation paid to WYO companies and set appropriate compensation rates, the FEMA administrator should take into account WYO company characteristics that may impact companies' expenses and profits when developing the new compensation methodology and rates.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: According to FEMA officials, FEMA is responding to this recommendation as part of its development of a final rule on WYO compensation practices, required by the Biggert-Waters Act. FEMA issued a Notice of Proposed Ruling on July 8, 2019 seeking comments by September 6, 2019 regarding possible approaches to incorporate actual flood expense data into the WYO payment methodology.
Director: Carol R. Cha
Phone: (202) 512-4456

1 open recommendations
Recommendation: As part of the effort of improving IT management at the three programs, the FEMA Administrator should direct the CIO to ensure that FEMA policy for managing IT programs includes guidance for implementing the key management practices.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: The Department of Homeland Security concurred with the recommendation. In June 2016, FEMA reported that the CIO is reviewing existing policies and guidance to identify gaps and revisions necessary to mature FEMA IT management practices. Subsequently, in its November 2016 update, FEMA reported that the System Owner for DAIP, EMMIE, and IPAWS have updated their respective IT management program and plans and coordinated with the FEMA CIO to address the risks identified within the recommendation. However, as of August 2018, the department had not provided supporting that these actions had been completed including evidence that its policy for management IT programs includes guidance for implementing key management practices. We will continue to its progress in implementing this recommendation.
Director: Mark Goldstein
Phone: (202) 512-2834

1 open recommendations
Recommendation: To further build on the efforts to improve emergency communications interoperability in the NCR, as part of its efforts to restructure the JFC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator should direct the Director of ONCRC to clearly articulate in a written agreement the roles and responsibilities of the participating agencies and specify how these agencies are to work together across agency boundaries.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: ONCRC, with the re-established JFC Executive Committee, has drafted a new charter for the reconstituted JFC that will address roles and responsibilities of participating agencies and how they are to work together. The draft charter is in final review by the JFC and FEMA. Upon coordination and approval within FEMA, the approved JFC Charter will be final. Expected completion date is October 2019.
Director: Michele Mackin
Phone: (202) 512-4841

2 open recommendations
Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA OCPO and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should establish a plan to ensure that the agreement is reviewed on an annual basis as intended.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. In prior years FEMA officials told us that the Office of Procurement Operations had formed a team to address this recommendation. As of August 2019, FEMA's Regional Administrators had reviewed the draft revision of the 2011 service level agreement and it was awaiting final approval. We will continue to monitor the steps FEMA takes to address this recommendation.
Recommendation: To improve coordination and communication between FEMA Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) and region mission support officials region mission support officials, the FEMA Administrator should direct OCPO and the regional administrators to revisit the 2011 service level agreement to: add details about the extent of operational control headquarters and regional supervisors should exercise to minimize potential competing interests experienced by regional contracting officers; further detail headquarters and regional supervisors' roles and responsibilities for managing regional contracting officers to improve coordination and communication; and ensure that the agreement reflects any new requirements, including recent changes in training that may require travel funds.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: In commenting on this report, DHS concurred with this recommendation. In prior years FEMA officials told us that the Office of Procurement Operations had formed a team to address this recommendation. As of August 2019, FEMA's Regional Administrators had reviewed the draft revision to the 2011 service level agreement and it was awaiting final approval. We will continue to monitor the steps FEMA takes to address this recommendation.
Director: Currie, Christopher
Phone: (404)679-3000

1 open recommendations
including 1 priority recommendation
Recommendation: To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the process for disaster declarations, the FEMA Administrator should develop and implement a methodology that provides a more comprehensive assessment of a jurisdiction's capability to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance. This should include one or more measures of a jurisdiction's fiscal capacity, such as TTR, and consideration of the jurisdiction's response and recovery capabilities. If FEMA continues to use the PA per capita indicator to assist in identifying a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster, it should adjust the indicator to accurately reflect the annual changes in the U.S. economy since 1986, when the current indicator was first adopted for use. In addition, implementing the adjustment by raising the indicator in steps over several years would give jurisdictions more time to plan for and adjust to the change.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open
Priority recommendation

Comments: On January 20, 2016, FEMA published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to solicit comments on an option FEMA is considering to establish a disaster deductible, which would require a predetermined level of financial or other commitment from a recipient, generally the state or territorial government, before FEMA would provide assistance under the Public Assistance Program. According to FEMA, the agency received 150 responses during the 60-day public comment period, which ended on March 21, 2016, and used this input to develop a plan for further engagement on a more detailed proposal for public comment. The Supplemental Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published on January 12, 2017, provided another opportunity for stakeholder input prior to any changes to the Public Assistance program. This proposal included an explanation of how deductible amounts might be calculated, identified specific credits that states could apply for, and detailed how the deductible would be applied post-declaration. According to FEMA officials, the comments received, in part, raised concerns about the complexity of the proposed deductible model. FEMA agreed with the concerns raised that the proposal was too complicated, and in August 2018, told us that it is no longer pursuing that option. However, FEMA is considering options that leverage similar approaches but does not have an estimated completion date for implementation. On October 5, 2018, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA), was signed into law. DRRA (section 1239) directs the FEMA Administrator to initiate a rulemaking to update the factors considered when evaluating a request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Public Assistance, specifically the estimated cost of assistance (i.e. the per capita indicator). FEMA is working to implement this provision pursuant to the law, and this effort represents one of the top priorities of the agency; however, the estimated completion date is still "to be determined." Until FEMA implements a new methodology, FEMA will not have an accurate assessment of a jurisdiction's capabilities to respond to and recover from a disaster without federal assistance and runs the risk of recommending that the President award Public Assistance to jurisdictions that have the capability to respond and recover on their own.
Director: Maurer, Diana C
Phone: (202) 512-9627

3 open recommendations
Recommendation: To help ensure that FEMA's agencywide workforce planning and training efforts are conducted in a comprehensive and integrated manner, the FEMA Administrator should identify and document long-term and quantifiable mission critical goals that reflect the agency's priorities for workforce planning and training.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: In October 2016, agency officials said they had contracted for the development of a Workforce Strategic Plan that is intended to assess current steady state staffing needs based on mission requirements and establish workforce models capable of determining future needs based on workload drivers. Further, they said the plan will monitor and evaluate FEMA's progress towards mission critical goals and the contribution that human capital results have made towards achieving programmatic priorities. In July 2017, they provided an updated estimate that the plan will be completed by June 2020. Pending completion of this effort, the recommendation will remain open. As of February 2020, GAO is awaiting additional information about these actions.
Recommendation: To help ensure that FEMA's agencywide workforce planning and training efforts are conducted in a comprehensive and integrated manner, the FEMA Administrator should establish a time frame for completing the development of quantifiable performance measures related to workforce planning and training efforts.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: In October 2016, agency officials said they had contracted for the development of a Workforce Strategic Plan that is intended to assess current steady state staffing needs based on mission requirements and establish workforce models capable of determining future needs based on workload drivers. Once complete, they said the plan will identify performance metrics to track FEMA's progress towards mission critical goals regarding workforce planning and training efforts. In July 2017, they provided an updated estimate that the plan will be completed by June 2020. Pending completion of this effort, the recommendation will remain open. As of February 2020, GAO is awaiting additional information about this effort.
Recommendation: To better inform FEMA's decision-making related to agencywide workforce planning and training efforts, the FEMA Administrator should develop systematic processes to collect and analyze workforce and training data.

Agency: Department of Homeland Security: Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Status: Open

Comments: In July 2017, officials reported that FEMA's Chief Component Human Capital Office was preparing a Training Plan that will outline the collection and analysis methodology of training data with an estimated completion date of September 2018. Pending documentation of the results of these efforts, this recommendation will remain open. As of February 2020, GAO is awaiting additional information about these efforts.