News and Announcements (July 8, 2014)

FEMA Weekly Employee News Bulletin Masthead

NOTE: You may submit your articles and announcements to the FEMA-Weekly by noon on Thursday. Please allow 24-48 hours for your article or announcement to be posted.

Main Content

Message from the Secretary, July 2, 2014

As we note the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we commemorate the hard work, leadership and sacrifice of those who worked to achieve passage of this law, and celebrate the progress our Nation has made because of it.

The country has progressed in ways that would have been unimaginable to those who were present for the bill signing by President Johnson 50 years ago.  But, discrimination and intolerance has many forms, against many types of victims, and persists today. We also know from our history that in times of national crisis, suspicion of those who are different grows.

The Department of Homeland Security was formed in the wake of the 9/11 attack.  We are dedicated to securing our border from attack by land, sea or air, and to maintain the security of our people at home. As I have said many times, we must not and will not pursue this homeland security mission at the cost of our values as a Nation of people who cherish our civil liberties and civil rights, and celebrate our diversity. This is keeping with the landmark law we celebrate today.

As the Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, I am committed to the continued progress toward a more perfect union.


Jeh Charles Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security

Employee Performance Management – Progress Reviews Due by July 30

A progress review is a documented discussion used to monitor performance, remove obstacles, and respond to new priorities. It is essential that the Rating Official (1st level supervisor) provide written feedback and employees have the opportunity to provide comments too All progress reviews are electronically documented in each employee’s 2014 performance folder located in FHR Navigator. During the month of July, the following reviews are required:

  • 2nd Quarter Progress Reviews for all GS and CORE employees and supervisors except the Office of the Chief Counsel.
  • 3rd Quarter Progress Reviews for all Wage Grade employees and supervisors.

For additional information including job aids or to schedule a goal writing workshop, visit  

Region X Concludes Master Exercise Practitioner Program

FEMA Region 10 just concluded its regional offering of the Master Exercise Practitioner Program with the final course in a three part series held June 24-27, 2014 in Lynnwood, WA. 

Thirty-two federal, state, tribal, county and local emergency management and preparedness professionals participated with the primary goal of mastering the essentials of exercise program management and the overall exercise design process.  Students were required to progressively build and facilitate Table-Top, Functional, and Full-Scale exercises collaboratively in a team-based classroom setting.  Additionally, students were given vigorous proficiency demonstration assignments which focused on building exercises that addressed possible vulnerabilities of their respective jurisdictions. They were then encouraged to conduct their exercise to gauge best practices and lessons learned in relation to the critical exercise design components. 

The Master Exercise Practitioner Program is a three-course series designed to improve the capabilities of emergency management exercise personnel in every phase of the overall exercise processes in accordance with policy, doctrine, practices and tools in the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program.

For additional information, contact course manager Meghan Van Aken at (301) 447-1723, or email

Section 508 Compliance Training   

The DHS Office of Accessible Systems & Technology has released the Section 508 training schedule for July through December, 2014. Classes are offered at no cost, and available to both FEMA employees and contractor partners. The training courses currently being offered include:

Online Courses:

  • Section 508: What is it and Why is it Important to You?
  • Section 508 for COTR’s, Program & Project Managers

Hands-on Training:

  • Developing Accessible Microsoft Office Documents
  • Creating Accessible PDF Documents Using Adobe Acrobat Professional XI
  • Creating Accessible Fillable Forms
  • Section 508 Compliance Standards Review
  • Section 508 Trusted Tester Training
  • Section 508 Trusted Tester Certificate Exam

For course descriptions, schedule and registration information, please visit the Section 508 Accessibility Resource Center » Training.

Lync Instant Messages and Records Management

FEMA employees are increasingly using Microsoft Lync instant messages to perform official agency business and decision-making.  Therefore, effective July 2, 2014, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) will begin automatic saving all Microsoft Lync instant messages sent and received by FEMA employees to ensure compliance with federal records retention laws.  Instant messages will be saved in each employee’s Outlook e-mail “Conversation History” folder.                                       

For records management purposes, you should treat these instant messages just as you would an e-mail message.  Employees should retain as long term records any instant message that provides context to an agency action or decision for which you are directly responsible.  Any Lync instant messages that do not concern FEMA business within your area of official responsibility can be treated as non-records and be deleted when no longer needed for regular business use.  You can delete saved Lync instant messages from your “Conversation History” folder the same way as you would an e-mail from your inbox.  Also, Outlook will automatically send older saved instant messages to your eVault archive just as it does with e-mail.    


For additional information regarding records management, please visit the Records Management Division Intranet site.  Under the Frequently Used Tools section, you will find links for Frequently Asked Questions, “Is This E-mail a Record?” File Management, and other valuable tools to assist you in managing records.

If you have any technical questions regarding where Lync instant messages are stored once automatic saving is enabled, please contact the Enterprise Service Desk at (888) 457-3362 or     

For records management training or questions, please contact the Records Management Branch at 202-646-3522 or

Non-FEMA Hosted Conference Attendance Requests

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) has developed a toolkit for FEMA employees to submit requests for attendance at Non-FEMA Hosted Conferences where only travel, lodging, meals and registration costs are eligible for reimbursement.  A non-FEMA Hosted Conference is externally hosted and attended by FEMA staff.  Examples include the National Hurricane Conference, International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference, Floodplain Management Conference, etc.  The Non-FEMA Hosted Conference Attendance Requests toolkit provides enhanced customer service due to the streamlined approval process along with greater transparency and efficiency, but does not replace the Event Planning Tool that is still required if the event is hosted by FEMA or if the attended event includes booth and/or other costs outside of attendee travel and/or registration fees.  

FEMA employees will need to request access to the Non-FEMA Hosted Conference Attendance Requests Toolkit from the Risk Management and Compliance Conference Team at Sign up and use it today!     

Questions regarding conferences and events should be directed to the Risk Management and Compliance Conference Team at   

PIO Nate Custer Recognized For Alabama Recovery Work

By David Mace

Media Relations Specialist Nathan Custer was recently commended for his work helping residents of Alabama during the recovery from this spring’s tornadoes and storms under DR-4176.

FEMA FCO Albie Lewis and SCO Jeffrey Byard praised Custer’s work helping communicate important messages to the public via the media, which drew the attention of Alabama Emergency Management Regional Coordinator Ricky Little as well.

“We received his acknowledgement of the exceptional service and dedication that you provided to the citizens and the local media from which you provided interviews in early hours before daylight, into the tireless hours of the late evenings,” Lewis and Byard wrote in their letter.

“You exemplify a true image of what a professional representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency exhibits in manner and character, and for that we are forever grateful,” they concluded. 

An award ceremony in the Montgomery, AL JFO

Montgomery, AL, July 2, 2014 -- From left to right, Jeff Byard, AL State Coordinating Officer (SCO), Nate Custer, FEMA Media Relations Specialist and Albie Lewis, FEMA FCO gather together to present Custer with a joint Certificate of Merit for his exceptional work in the aftermath of the severe storms and tornadoes that swept through the area. Patsy Lynch/FEMA

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Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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