Reservist Program Frequently Asked Questions

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The following are Frequently Asked Questions regarding the FEMA Reservist Program:

Deployments

Q: How often can a Reservist expect to be deployed?

A: FEMA is committed to have each Reservist deploy from their residence at least once each year, to any location within the United States and its Territories. Deployments are usually a minimum of 30 days.

Q: How will Reservists be selected to deploy to disasters?  

A: Based on staffing requirements identified by Regional Administrators, Federal Coordinating Officers, and Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinators, Reservists will be deployed for all incident management and incident support assignments on a rotational basis by job title and FQS qualification level.  The length of deployment will depend on operational needs and available funding.  When necessary and appropriate for effective mission accomplishment, the IWMD may elect to modify or deviate from the rotation list by deploying those Reservists nearest to the location of a disaster.

Equipment

Q: What equipment will each Reservist be issued?

A: Each Reservist will be issued a laptop, blackberry and an RSA token which will provide access to the FEMA network and assist with 2-way communication between program points of contact and their Reservists.

Q: What do I do if my equipment is lost, stolen or damaged?

A: Policy regarding how to deal with lost, stolen or damaged items will be given to each Reservist as they receive their equipment.

Q: Who do I call if I have equipment or connectivity issues?

A: The Enterprise Service Help Desk will assist you at: FEMA-Enterprise-Service-Desk@dhs.gov or 888-HLP-FEMA. Upon issuance of equipment, all Reservists will receive a tri-fold brochure with basic connectivity instructions.

General

Q: How does the new Reservist Program affect local hires, CORES, and fulltime employees working in disaster offices?

A: The new Reservist Program has no effect on CORES, local hires, or PFT employees.  PFT and CORE employees will be expected to deploy in their FQS qualified positions in the same way as Reservists are reviewed for qualification.  Local hires are not subject to FQS.

Q: How can I get a copy of my Reservist welcome packet once they are sent out if I'm deployed and don't have access to my mail?

A: The FQS Call Center can forward a copy of the welcome packet documents via email or fax. Deployed Reservists can request a copy of the material by email to FEMA-FQS-Program@fema.dhs.gov or by calling 855- 377-3362.

FEMA Qualification System

Q: Is FQS designed and/or implemented by DHS/FEMA or by an outside consulting company?

A: FQS was designed and is being implemented by FEMA with DHS approval, utilizing best practices from other agencies.

Q: What FQS reference material is available on the website?

A: The FQS reference material is located online at http://www.fema.gov/fema-qualification-system. The website contains all relevant FQS material and each employee is encouraged to review this information. Examples of documents include FQS position titles and task books for each position, progression charts for cadres, and training required for each position qualification.

Q: If an employee demobilizes (one week or less) prior to receipt of a Position Task Book (PTB),  how will the employee’s performance on the disaster be assessed and recorded into the PTB?

A: The performance of the individual can be assessed by a qualified evaluator during a future deployment. 

Q: What is the process for issuing new PTBs?

A: Force Structure will be the determining factor for issuing new PTBs. If, based on force structure, someone is needed to advance; the decision will be made by the certifying official in collaboration with the Cadre/Reservist Program Manager.

Q: Can you please confirm that we are only allowing employees to have one job title in the FQS migration?

A: Each employee will be assigned one primary FQS job title. If there are titles subordinate to the position for which they're qualified, that person can be assigned up to three subordinate job titles in the same cadre.

Q: When will secondary qualifications be assigned?

A: It is unlikely that FEMA will assign secondary job titles outside an employee’s primary cadre. An employee cannot deploy in multiple cadres at the same time so it could leave multiple cadres counting on the services of a single employee during major events.

Q: In FQS, is it possible to be nominated to a new position? If yes, what are the procedures for that nomination?

A: Yes, it is possible to be nominated for a new position. This will be driven by the Force Structure requirements. Let your Reservist Program manager know if you interest in position vacancies.

Q: When will secondary job titles be removed from ADD?

A: All historic data including former job titles of Reservists/DAE employees will be retained in ADD. However, the FQS structure only uses the primary and subordinate job titles.  

Q:  How many levels of proficiency exist within FQS and what are they?

A:  There are two proficiency levels – Trainee and Qualified.

Q:  Regarding FQS qualification determinations, what percentage were Qualified vs. Trainee?

A:  The notifications that were mailed resulted in 80 percent qualified and 20 percent trainee personnel.

Q: If an employee has disaster related experience and training from an agency outside of FEMA, was that experience/training a consideration for the FQS positions?  Can training from agencies outside of FEMA be used for reconsideration?

A: Yes. All training and experience was taken into consideration if it is directly related and relevant to the FQS position title.

Q: Will employees be permitted to know the names of the specific Cadre/Reservist Program Manager Panel members who determined the initial FQS job titles for them?

A: While the names of the panel members are not available, the panel was comprised of 11 subject matter experts, located at the regional offices and headquarters.

Q: If a DAE Trainee has been deployed to a major disaster and the FQS evaluators were not yet in place, how will that trainee be evaluated and given credit for that experience?

A:  When FQS is implemented that employee’s entire deployment history is considered in the review and qualification process. If needed, the employee should be able to demonstrate the required skills to an evaluator at a later date and time if those skills were successfully learned on previous deployments.

Q: Will time in position be considered and not just the identified parameters for qualifications?

A:  Yes. While time in position is considered, it is more important to demonstrate job knowledge and experience than the number of days on the job.

Q: Why were some employees evaluated but did not receive an FQS title?

A: They may have been reviewed and found to be deficient on the requirements for the position. If so, those findings will be discussed with the employee.

Ombudsman

Q. What is the FEMA Reservist Ombudsman?

A. The FEMA Reservist Ombudsman is a new function within the Director of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Division of the Office of Chief Counsel. The role of the Ombuds is to collect, investigate and analyze issues and concerns of Reservists based on FEMA policies, instructions, procedures and/or practices in order to recommend actions to improve the effectiveness of the Reservist workforce. Organizationally, the Ombudsman reports directly to the Chief Counsel and has direct, unfettered access to the FEMA Chief of Staff when, and if, necessary to propose recommended actions.

Q. What is the goal of the Reservist Ombudsman Office?

A. The goal of the Reservist Ombudsman Office is to create a feedback loop on systemic issues for Reservists.  The information gained from the Reservists will form the basis for recommended changes or suggestions to top leadership to advance organizational fairness, engagement and responsiveness for Reservists.  The Reservist Ombudsman Office will create a committed forum for open communication that results in continuous improvement and learning for the agency.

Q. How do I contact the Reservist Ombudsman?

A. Lester Schoene Jr. is the Ombudsman and can be reached at Lester.Schoenejr@fema.dhs.gov or at 202-368-8497.

Q. What is the difference between the Reservist Ombudsman and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisors? Does the Reservist Ombudsman replace the advisors?

A. The function of the FEMA Reservist Ombuds is to provide a dedicated resource for Reservists to discuss, document, address and elevate systemic issues and concerns with Reservist policy implications.  It complements and does not replace the role of the ADR Advisors who will continue to be available to provide all the services they have provided in the past, including building the capacity of Reservists and others in the disaster workforce to manage conflict situations, and assisting in the resolution of disputes as they may arise.

Reservist Application Process

Q. What is the role of a FEMA Reservist?

A. As a part of FEMA’s disaster workforce, Reservists serve the nation by assisting citizens and first responders during disasters or emergency situations.  As a Reservist you will have the opportunity to train, gain experience, and become qualified in a specific disaster role.  Being a Reservist allows you to assist in the coordinated response and recovery efforts of impacted citizens, communities, Local, Tribal, and State governments.  

Q. What are the requirements to serve as a FEMA Reservist?

A. To serve as a Reservist you must be a United States citizen with a desire to assist others in a disaster or emergency situation.  Additionally, you must be willing to conduct yourself in a professional manner, preserve the public trust, and adhere to FEMA/DHS rules and regulations and Conditions of Employment.

Q. What are the benefits of serving as a FEMA Reservist?

A. As a Reservist you play a vital role in the meeting the needs of disaster survivors.  You will have the opportunity to expand your professional knowledge and skills, while becoming proficient in new abilities.  Additionally, you will build an extensive emergency management network and discover the role and responsibilities of federal response and recovery.     Lastly, by joining the Reservist program you will receive firsthand knowledge of how your work and efforts directly assist in the aiding of survivors.   

Q. What if I need help applying?
A. For general questions on applying for a Reservist Program vacancy announcement, please go to the USAJOBS Resource Center.

Q. Is my application confidential and secure?
A. Yes, the Reservist Program applications are run on a private, secure database.

Q. What documents do I need to include in my application?

A. Your resume and OF-306 Declaration for Federal Employment (a PDF writeable version of the OF-306 can be obtained at http://www.opm.gov/Forms/pdf_fill/OF306.pdf) are the document submissions required for all positions. Please read the vacancy announcement to determine if additional documents are needed (e.g. transcripts).  If you are a current FEMA LEAP employee, FEMA recommends you include your FQS notification letter or any other documentation that will help establish your qualification for an FQS position.

Q. Can I create a resume online?
A. Yes. Once you have established your USAJOBS account, you can create your resume using the Resume Builder. Once your resume is in the system, you can update it at anytime. The USAJOBS presentation provides a step-by-step guide.

Q. I already have a resume established. Can I load this onto the system?
A. Yes. USAJOBS will allow you to upload a pre-existing resume to be included in your profile. The USAJOBS presentation provides a step-by-step guide.

Q. How do I access the required OF-306 form and do I sign line 17a or 17b in the form?

A. A PDF writeable version of the OF-306 can be obtained at www.opm.gov/Forms/pdf_fill/OF306.pdf. Print, complete, and sign line 17a on the form. Scan and enter this document into the application form; or, fax it using the application form instructions.

Q. How many positions can I apply for?

A. You may apply for as many positions within the Reservist Program as you wish, but you must be qualified for that position to be selected.

Q. Can I rank my order of preference if I apply for multiple positions?

A. No, you cannot indicate an order of preference if you apply for multiple positions. Based on your application, your qualifications, and Agency needs, FEMA will determine which position, if any, a candidate is selected for.

Q. Will there be other opportunities in the future to apply to the Reservist Program?

A. Future job announcements for positions in the Reservist Program will be based on Agency requirements.  Reservist positions will be announced as needs arise.  

Q. When I apply will I receive a confirmation?

A. You will be sent a confirmation notice if you elected to receive this notification in your USAJOBS profile. You may also check on the status of your application by selecting “Application Status” in your USAJOBs account.

Reservist Program Managers

Q: How do I find out who my Cadre/Reservist Program Manager is?

A: The FQS Call Center has the current list of Cadre/Reservist Program Managers. You may reach them by dialing toll free 855- 377-3362.

Q: Will my Reservist Program Manager change when the Reservist Program is implemented?

A:  Each National Program Office will identify a Reservist Program Manager for each cadre.  The list of RPMs will be sent electronically to all Reservists before Oct. 1st.  Disaster Assistance Employees who did not join the Reservist Program will continue to be managed through their current cadre managers.

Q:  I’ve communicated with my Reservist Program Manager via e-mail but have received no response.  With whom should I follow-up?

A: Contact the FQS Call center toll free at 855-377-3362 for help contacting your Reservist Program Manager.

Q:  Who should an individual notify of their interest in advancing to the next level of a given FQS position? Is this the responsibility of the Cadre/Reservist Program Manager?   How will an employee submit notification of his/her desire to advance?

A:  You should notify your Reservist Program Manager, preferably by email, if you have an interest in advancing to the next level.  Contact the Call Center if you are unsure of your Program Manager’s email address.

Q: Will the Reservist Program Manager take a proactive role in helping employees to establish and reach goals (i.e. training, prerequisites, deployments, etc.)?  Or is this the sole responsibility of the employee?

A: Establishing and reaching goals is a shared responsibility. It is your responsibility to make your manager aware of your goals, so communication on your part is essential. To the extent that these goals fit the needs of FEMA's Force Structure, the manager will assist as possible.

Q: Will there be a mandate to have monthly or quarterly calls, emails or mail from the Reservist Program Manager to update employees regarding FQS and other matters that employees should know? What are the plans for updates?

A: Our goal is to provide regular two-way communication with all FEMA employees.  Initially, we are using   the public-facing employee website, the employee email address FEMA-FQS-PROGRAM@fema.dhs.gov; the Call Center 855-377-3362; and weekly updates through the FEMA Weekly all-hands emails. 

Q: Is it up to the Reservist Program Manager to provide new employees the FQS brochures, information and updates? Who will be responsible for making information available to the Reservists?

 A: Employees should assume responsibility for accessing pertinent Reservist, FQS and important workforce transition information at http://www.fema.gov/fema-qualification-system.

Salary/Benefits

Q:  Where can I find the Reservist's pay scale? 

A:  The Reservist’s pay scale is outlined in the FEMA Directive 010-6 on the Reservist Program.  This directive is available online at www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?&id=6091.

The Reservist Program pay structure will consist of five pay grades, with three levels within each pay grade and is based on the required knowledge, skills and abilities for the position.

Q: Is there a different salary if you are deployed to a position below the title you have been qualified for?

A. No.  Salary will be based on the primary job title for which you are qualified in the FQS system.   Furthermore, if you deploy under a subordinate title, your pay will not be affected.

Training

Q: Is there a plan to ensure equal and fair consideration for FQS mandatory training?

A: Yes. Under the FQS structure, employees will receive scheduled, formalized  training required to perform in their titled position. 

Q: Will there be dedicated funding for training?

A: Yes. There will be dedicated FQS funding to train the workforce.

Q: Can Reservists now participate in large scale exercises?

A: Reservists have been used in the past and we will look at increasing the use of our Reservists during future large scale exercises.

Q: Do employees have a voice in their career track with FEMA?  For example, can an Individual Assistance Specialist with an interest in Human Resources request consideration for a change in cadre and/or position? If so, will the necessary training be available?

A: Notify your Cadre/Reservist Program Manager if you have an interest in changing to a different cadre. The process to change cadres requires you to communicate with your Reservist Program manager and let them know your goals. Changing cadres is on a case-by-case basis linked to Force Structure requirements and needs of the agency.

Q: Will employees be allowed to take training outside of their qualified area? (Ex: Individual Assistance would like to take Logistics training?)

A: Training outside of an employee's qualified area will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  At present, FQS funds are dedicated to each employee’s FQS specific job title.  

Q: Will I have the opportunity to take required FQS training when deployed to a JFO?

A: Training is going to be offered in the most appropriate locations based on open Position Task Books and cost effectiveness.  Basic-level courses will be held in JFOs while intermediate-level courses may be offered in regional offices. More advanced training may be best suited for locations such as the Emergency Management Institute.

Q: If I have taken the required training course but it has been a few years, do I have to retake the training?

A: If it is a required refresher training needed to maintain qualification, you will need to retake the course.

Q: I need a class to complete the requirements of my qualification sheet but it is not being offered anytime soon. How are classes selected for delivery?

A: Due to limited funding, classes will only be offered when there is an adequate of number of employees who require a class.

Last Updated: 
01/17/2014 - 15:45