News and Announcements (April 14, 2014)

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We Hear You!

Team,

During the month of January, hundreds of you participated in Virtual Town Hall meetings to discuss and contribute to the development of the 2014-2018 FEMA Strategic Plan and the Clean Slate Project. Your contributions and the material developed by the Strategic Plan and Clean Slate Project teams were integrated and presented for leadership consideration at a Senior Leader Offsite meeting in early March.

Senior Leaders spent a day at Mount Weather reflecting on your input, clarifying key definitions, affirming the five strategic priorities from the Administrator’s Intent, and making decisions about FEMA’s strategic direction, which will soon be reflected in sixteen objectives across the five strategic priorities in the 2014-2018 FEMA Strategic Plan. Senior leadership also settled on an approach to managing execution of our forthcoming Strategic Plan, with executives focusing personally and directly on the objectives to drive significant agency wide progress moving forward.

We hear you!

Several recurring themes emerged from your efforts and the analysis of your feedback from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey: the importance of investing in our workforce, working smarter through data analytics, streamlining and simplifying business processes, and encouraging and incentivizing national risk reduction and resilience.

Your voice counts. You continue to help guide the Agency in meeting its important mission.  Details on the finalization and execution of the 2014-2018 FEMA Strategic Plan will be communicated regularly to FEMA employees in the coming weeks and months.

Thank you.

David J. Kaufman
Associate Administrator for Policy, Program Analysis, and International Affairs

FEMA’s New Personal Property System of Record—Sunflower Asset Management System (SAMS)

The Logistics Information Management System-III (LIMS), of the current System of Record for personal property management at FEMA for the past 30 years will be retired and replaced by the more state-of- the-art, DHS-wide Sunflower Asset Management System (SAMS) in April 2014.

The Sunflower Asset Management System will allow FEMA to:

  • Track Accountable and Non-Accountable Personal Property
  • Manage Shipments/Transfers and Receipts of Accountable Personal Property
  • Document Asset Maintenance Activities
  • Manage Asset Financials
  • Track Agreements 
  • Facilitate Reutilization and Disposal 
  • Drive Accurate and Efficient Inventories 
  • Automate the 100% Annual Physical Inventory using Scanner Inventory Software: MobileTrak
  • Create Canned & Customizable Reports
  • Develop System-Generated Notifications
  • Compartmentalize & Authenticate using Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

The migration to a new personal property system of record comes after a number of DHS-wide efforts (e.g., EMERGE/TASC) and quite a few years of FEMA’s own efforts to modernize and select the best possible solution for present and future personal property accountability and oversight. Over the past few years, the Agency has undergone a number of analyses to determine a system that would meet FEMA’s Personal Property regulatory requirements.

As early as 2009, the SAMS solution was identified as a viable upgrade/replacement. Today, the SAMS implementation is almost complete! What originally would have been an implementation of a multi-million dollar solution, by leveraging the DHS instance as-a-service solution, FEMA is able to migrate to and operate this system well within the current annual operating budget.

The FEMA property management team will be receiving additional information over the next few days on subjects ranging from training and certification, system access, inventory and migration validation. 

If you would like additional information, please contact FEMA-personal-property@fema.dhs.gov.

Volunteer to Serve in the Surge Capacity Force 

Do you want to continue to serve by assisting survivors during times of disaster?  If so, then we want you to be a part of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Surge Capacity Force (SCF).

Established in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, DHS’s SCF is a standing disaster force in readiness composed of department/component employees who desire to deploy as part of the FEMA incident workforce during catastrophic incidents.  DHS’s SCF supports critical incident response and recovery mission sets by augmenting FEMA’s organic disaster workforce.

When deployed, DHS SCF members will work in one of four FEMA program areas:  Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams; Logistics; Public Assistance; and Individual Assistance.  Those DHS SCF members who maintain low-density, high-demand skill sets (IT, Acquisitions, ADR, External Affairs, etc), may also be assigned missions in their area of expertise based on the needs of the Federal Coordinating Officer and operational requirements.

To become a member of the SCF and be assigned a disaster position in FEMA’s Deployment Tracking System, the following requirements/options apply:

  1. Optional – Subject to availability, attend the 2-week Specialist Program of Instruction at the FEMA Incident Workforce Academy located at either the Center for Domestic Preparedness or a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, or
  2. Required if option above is not selected - Complete five online training courses:
    1. IS-35 - FEMA Safety Orientation
    2. IS-100.b Introduction to Incident Command System (ICS)
    3. IS-102.c Preparing for Federal Disaster Operations – FEMA Response Partners
    4. IS-700.a National Incident Management System (NIMS), an Introduction
    5. IS-800.b National Response Framework (NRF)

Volunteers may also receive enhanced training at a mobilization center before being sent to a disaster area. The purpose here is to not only provide training, but also indoctrinate members to disaster environments with SCF mentors dedicated to supporting volunteers’ integration into FEMA program work assignments. In addition, members will receive necessary safety orientation and equipment needed to accomplish tasks in the field.   

There are many opportunities for DHS employees to volunteer for the SCF, and we are actively recruiting from all DHS component and headquarters offices.  For more information about the SCF, including FAQs, training courses, and component-specific information, please visit our homepage.  Interested personnel may also email us at surgecapacityforce@fema.dhs.gov.

Disaster Survivor Assistance program is celebrating its One Year Anniversary!

Following Hurricane Sandy, FEMA leadership saw opportunities to enhance the survivor experience using technology to provide personalized assistance that addresses survivors’ immediate needs.  Based on this desire to provide expanded services to disaster survivors, FEMA

Leadership transferred the Community Relations program from the Office of External Affairs to the Recovery Directorate on April 8, 2013.With an expanded mission and a new name, Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA), was born.

Immediately following the April 2013 transfer, the DSA cadre was deployed to assist survivors impacted by the explosion in West, Texas. In early May, DSA Teams helped survivors of flooding throughout Illinois. Later that month, they responded to devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, and in June assisted survivors of ice jams and flooding in Alaska. When torrential rains flooded communities across Colorado in September, DSA again came to the aid of survivors.

The six disasters supported during 2013 gave DSA a chance to demonstrate the value of their new mission as an expeditionary cadre that can address disaster survivor’s immediate needs by:

  • Establishing a timely presence;
  • Providing in-person, tailored information and services;
  • Providing referrals to whole community partners as needed;
  • Collecting targeted information to support decision-making; and
  • Identifying public information needs so critical messaging can be developed and disseminated.

DSA Teams use technological tools like the Survivor Mobile Application Reporting Tool (SMART), which gives teams the ability to use mobile geo-tagging and photo-capable devices in the field to capture data that is replicated in real-time to the FEMA GeoPlatform.

Colorado’s Director of Emergency Management lauded DSA’s use of technology to reach survivors in isolated communities, and at a recent meeting of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA), the Oklahoma emergency management Director praised DSA for assisting in rumor control and for its ability to take registrations at survivors’ homes, work, or community location.

After one year, DSA strives to meet the Administrator’s intent being expeditionary and survivor-centric in mission execution.

“FEMA will achieve a timely presence on the ground in the impact area following a disaster, maximize the effect of our first touch with survivors, and bring our programs and services directly to those who need them—in their communities, in their homes, in shelters, and wherever survivors need us to be present.” - W. Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator

Additional information regarding the DSA program is available at www.fema.gov/disaster-survivor-assistance-program.  If you have any recommendations on how to improve the DSA program, please email EnhancingSurvivorExperience@fema.dhs.gov

Looking to hone your public-speaking and leadership skills?  Join FEMA Toastmasters!

As emergency managers and first responders, you must project the confidence to disaster survivors and Emergency Support Function partners that you possess the leadership skills to match your role.  The ability to think quickly and to communicate information to a variety of audiences during catastrophic circumstances is of paramount importance. 

When you become an active member of FEMA Toastmasters, you will cultivate your public speaking talents through a series of projects leading to the achievement of the Competent Communicator recognition.  You will also learn to finesse the finer arts of communication such as providing effective feedback and motivation to fellow members, which will advance you to earn credit towards achieving Competent Leader recognition. 

The FEMA Toastmasters Club 9599 meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 12:00 – 1:00 EST at the Washington Design Center located at 300 D Street S.W., Washington, DC.  For more information about Toastmasters International, visit www.toastmasters.org.  If you would like to be notified of upcoming events, click here to contact a club officer. 

FEMA Incident Workforce Academy at Center for Domestic Preparedness

By: Ericka Lopez

In the nearly 9 years that I have served as a FEMA reservist and now as an Incident Management Cadre On Call Reservist (IM-CORE), I can recall dozens of training sessions that have enriched my knowledge and experience. That said, none have motivated me more than my recent participation in the FEMA Incident Workforce Academy (FIWA) in Anniston, Alabama.

This two-week introductory course for new FEMA employees, held at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, was comprehensive and thought-provoking.

Anniston, Ala., March 25, 2014 -- Class photo of FEMA's Incident Workforce Academy at Center for Domestic Preparedness.Anniston, Ala., March 25, 2014 -- Class photo of FEMA's Incident Workforce Academy at Center for Domestic Preparedness.

The week long training offered a thorough look into the work life of FEMA employees. It delved into the process of delivering disaster services and the role of FEMA staff as emergency managers. 

Course topics ranged from preparing to deploy and field operations, to recovery programs and supporting the Stafford Act programs. It truly provided an exceptional overview of FEMA basics.

The highlight of the class was the Capstone exercise, which gave students an opportunity to apply all the lessons learned in a mock disaster event. Students collaboratively assumed the roles of local, state, tribal and federal partners as they worked through the entire simulated disaster process from response to recovery.

FIWA, which is now an integral part of FEMA’s mandatory training requirement, lays the foundation that each employee can take to the field. This ensures continuity of operations and in the end makes FEMA a better trained and staffed agency for responding to disasters. 

As a recent graduate of the academy, the experience left me well-informed and exceptionally prepared to tackle any FEMA-related issue. I believe it is one of the most comprehensive and well-developed courses designed to introduce new FEMA employees to the agency and its mission.

FEMA Corps Team Pine 4 in Joplin

By: Darlene Banks

After a successful second round in Denton, Texas, Pine 4 has started a new project with the Logistics Department in Joplin, Missouri. Reflecting back on their service term in Denton, Pine 4 member Will vanDeventer says, “It was nice working in such a friendly environment with all the Region VI staff. They provided a cohesive and enthusiastic atmosphere, and that’s one of the key factors to our success in the region.”

While stationed in Denton, Pine 4 operated out of the Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC). They aided in the technological upgrades to the RRCC, assisted with the Federal Regional Center (FRC) 50th Anniversary Celebration, and conducted research for the Planning and Operations Departments in regards to hospital evacuation sheltering, among many other tasks that will help future disaster recovery efforts in the region.

Joplin, Mo., April 1, 2014 -- Pine 4 Members pose in front of their work site’s tornado shelter in Joplin, Mo.Joplin, Mo., April 1, 2014 -- Pine 4 Members pose in front of their work site’s tornado shelter in Joplin, Mo.

As the team moves on to their third and final round, they are working with the Region VII Logistics Department to close out the 2011 Joplin tornado disaster. Pine 4 members will find themselves clearing out Temporary Mobile Facilities (TMFs) and inventorying the items to be donated to local schools and Native American tribes.  “It’s nice working in a directly disaster-affected area,” says Pine 4 member Vincent Duran. “We will be able to do hands-on work, and the community will hopefully benefit from our efforts”

Although the team’s final two rounds were at different locations in different FEMA regions, one theme that continues to stay the same is FEMA staff’s enthusiasm for working with FEMA Corps, teams’ gratitude for serving with such welcoming staff, and service that will ultimately benefit disaster-affected communities. The latter is what everyone’s effort come down to in the end.

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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