FEMA’s IT systems “do not support disaster response activities effectively”, says US Department of Homeland Security report

Published:  28 April, 2011

Federal Emergency Management Agency faces challenges in modernizing information technology, says the DHS’s Office of Inspector General.

The Executive Summary reads as follows:

“We audited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s efforts to provide the information systems needed to support its disaster response mission operations. The objective of our audit was to determine whether the agency’s information technology modernization approach adequately addresses planning, implementation, and management to support efficient and effective disaster relief assistance. The scope and methodology of this audit are discussed further in Appendix A.

“The agency’s existing information technology systems do not support disaster response activities effectively. The agency has a number of information technology infrastructure modernization initiatives under way. However, it does not have a comprehensive information technology strategic plan with clearly defined goals and objectives or guidance for program office initiatives. In addition, it has not completed its efforts to document the agency’s enterprise architecture. Without these critical elements, the agency is challenged to establish an effective approach to modernize its information technology infrastructure and systems.

“In addition, the Office of the Chief Information Officer does not have an adequate understanding of existing information technology resources and needs throughout the agency. Specifically, the office does not have a complete, documented inventory of its systems to support disasters. Further, program and field offices continue to develop information technology systems independently of the office and have been slow to adopt the agency’s standard information technology development approach. Finally, the office has completed improvements to its infrastructure foundation; however, efforts to modernize some of the agency’s critical systems have been put on hold due to departmental consolidation plans. As a result, systems are not integrated, do not meet user requirements, and do not provide the information technology capabilities agency personnel and its external partners need to carry out disaster response and recovery operations in a timely or effective manner.”

The report makes the following recommendations

  • Recommendation 1: Develop a comprehensive IT strategic plan with clearly defined goals and objectives to support program IT initiatives.
  • Recommendation 2: Complete and implement a FEMA enterprise architecture to establish technical standards and guidelines for systems acquisitions and investment decisions.
  • Recommendation 3: Establish and maintain a complete, comprehensive enterprise IT systems inventory.
  • Recommendation 4: Establish an agency-wide IT budget planning process to include all FEMA program technology initiatives and requirements.
  • Recommendation 5: Obtain agency-wide IT investment review authority to ensure that all IT initiatives and systems development efforts align with FEMA’s mission.
  • Recommendation 6: Establish a consolidated modernization approach for FEMA’s mission-critical IT systems, to include DHS plans for integrated asset management, financial, and acquisition solutions.

Read the full report here.

  • Operation Florian

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