Workforce Transformation Frequently Asked Questions

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FEMA Qualification System (FQS)

Benefits for Reservists

Q:  Will benefits (medical/retirement) be provided to Reservists?
A:  The agency is currently reviewing options on benefits offered to permanent full-time (PFT) staff that may be provided to Reservists without any legislative changes.

Cadre Management

Q: How do I find out who my Cadre Manager is?
A: The FQS Call Center has the current list of Cadre Managers. You may reach them by dialing toll free (855) 377-3362.

Q:  I’ve communicated with my Cadre Manager via e-mail but have received no response.  With whom should I follow-up?
A:  You should contact your Incident Workforce Management Office (IWMO) Liaison.  The FQS Call Center has contact information for each regional IWMO Liaison as well as the one at headquarters.

Q:  Who does an individual notify of their interest in advancing to the next level of a given position? Is this the responsibility of the Cadre Manager?   How will an employee submit notification of his/her desire to advance?
A:  You should notify your Cadre Manager if you have an interest in advancing to the next level. It is recommended that you submit a request in writing to your Cadre Manager about your desire to advance.

Q: Will the Cadre 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 Cadre 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 Cadre Manager will assist as possible.

Q: Will there be a mandate to have monthly/quarterly calls/emails/mail from the CM to update employees regarding FQS and other matters that employees should know? What are the plans for Cadre Updates? Regional/Agency wide updates? 
A: The goal is to provide regular two-way communication with all FEMA employees.  Initially, we are doing this through the public-facing employee website, an email address and phone number for questions, and weekly email updates through the FEMA Weekly.  Your cadre managers will also receive regular updates from headquarters and should be in regular communication with the Reservists in their cadre.

Q: Is it up to the Cadre Manager to provide new employees the FQS brochures, information and updates or will the FQS Unit or someone else be responsible for disseminating?
A: Once assigned to a cadre, it is the cadre manager's responsibility to assure the member is FQS informed. The FQS Unit will ensure the cadre managers are up to date.


Q: How do I sign-up on the Employee IdeaScale site?
A: If you have already created an account on the IdeaScale site, simply click Sign In at the top right corner. If you are a first-time user, you will need to click Register at the top right corner and follow the instructions to sign up.

Q: How do I post comments and ideas on the Employee IdeaScale site?
To submit a new idea, click on the yellow “Submit New Idea” button. Clicking this button will cause a screen to pop-up.  This pop-up asks for a title, description, and Campaign selection to which the idea is related.  All of the Campaigns are located on the left side of the idea boxes.  Once you are satisfied with your narrative, click the “submit” button and, within approximately 24 hours, the idea will appear as a new idea box.  Your fellow FEMA employees will then be able to comment and vote on your idea.  If a colleague has already posted an idea similar to yours, you should comment or vote on it instead of posting a new idea box.  If you a have specific question or need help using the site, you can send an email to

Q: Can I get into trouble posting critical comments on the Employee collaboration site?
A: We want to hear your honest feedback regarding all of these initiatives even if it is constructive criticism.  However, this is a professional site so comments should not include abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, personal information, advertisements or endorsements of products or similar content.  To keep this site a viable outlet for employee feedback it is important for comments to remain on-track and related to workforce issues at all times. 

Q: After I submit a comment or idea how long will it take to post?
A: Comments and ideas will be moderated for inappropriate content during the course of normal business hours.  Once approved, they will be posted the next business day after being submitted through the site. 

Q: Is leadership aware of the comments and ideas that are being posted onto the site?
A: Senior FEMA Leadership communicated their commitment to involving employees through this process at the Disaster Workforce Transformation Town Halls.  Leadership has been very supportive of the creation of this site to provide a forum for employees to make suggestions and build and vote on the ideas of others.  These comments and ideas will be reviewed by leadership for consideration as the Disaster Workforce Transformation project continues to develop.

Q: Ok, so I’ve added ideas and commented on others on this site.  Now what? Is anyone even taking my idea or comment into consideration?
A: We are tracking ideas and comments on a daily basis.  We are creating a monthly conference call to supplement the creative ideas we receive on the employee IdeaScale site.  Each month, we will choose the top 3 or 4 ideas and address them during a conference call. Go here [insert link] for more details on the employee conference call.

Q: I am interested in knowing whether a certain idea receives any additional comments. Is there any way I can receive updates when someone posts on that specific idea?
A: Yes, you can opt to ‘follow’ a certain idea.  From the IdeaScale site, click on the title of the idea you would like to follow.  You will be redirected to a page with the idea, and its comments, if any.  

There are two options to follow:

For those who do not want to comment on the idea: Immediately under the title, there will be a grey bar with an email and Followoption. Click on Follow.

For those who want to comment on the idea in addition to following it: Scroll down the page to the comment section.  Write your text in the Add your comment box.  Click on the box next to Notify me via e-mail of any activity within this Idea.  Then click Submit Comment.

Notifications will be sent to the email used when you registered for IdeaScale.  Notification emails are sent in real time, immediately after there has been an action on the Idea you have opted to follow. 

To stop following a comment, simply click on the idea.  At the top of the page under the title, click on Stop Following.
You can follow multiple ideas.

Q: Is there any way I can receive updates when the Moderator posts a comment or idea on the site?
A: Yes, you can opt to ‘follow’ the Moderator, or any other user on the site.  Click on the name of the user you want to follow (in this case, the Moderator.) You will be redirected to the user’s profile.  Click on the Follow button under the user’s icon.  You will now receive an email any time the Moderator has activity on the site, such as posting a comment or idea.

You can follow multiple users.

Q: I want to submit an idea, but before I do, I want to make sure no one else has already submitted an idea similar to mine. Is there a way to search the site?
A: Use the Search tool in the top right corner of the page to lookup ideas.  Use keywords to narrow your search.  For example, if your idea is about flex scheduling, try searching for “flex” or “flex scheduling”.

Q: Is there any way to receive notifications when new ideas are posted to IdeaScale?
A: Yes. In the top right-hand corner of IdeaScale, click on the green arrow by your name.  Select Notifications from the drop-down.  Under Default Community Notification Settings, you can choose to receive e-mail notifications for Ideas you have created.  You can also choose to have a regular update sent to your email address.  You can choose to have it sent one of three ways (1) New Ideas in Daily-Digest (2) New Ideas in Weekly-Digest (3) New Ideas in Real Time.


Q: When can we expect to see an Organizational chart with the new four letter abbreviated titles on the FQS web site?
A: This is currently under development and will be available prior to implementation of the FQS titles.

Force Structure

Q: Force Structure, when will it and/or any guidance on it be out?
A: This is currently under development and will be available prior to FQS implementation. The Regions are a part of this process under guidance from the RA.


Q:  When will Reservists in the Generalist Cadre be evaluated and migrated into FQS?
A:  The Generalist Cadre will be migrated into FQS based on the personnel requirements dictated by the FEMA force structure to be published later this spring.  At that time generalists will be evaluated and migrated into FQS positions and receive FQS qualification letters and their position task books.  As soon as that evaluation is scheduled we will post that information to this website


Q: Are employees currently being sent out under new title positions? Is there a wait time for FQS to be implemented?
A: FQS is not yet implemented therefore employees are not being sent out under the FQS titles.

Q: How soon will titles be migrated into ADD?
A: Full implementation and use of FQS within ADD is not anticipated to occur until everyone has gone through the migration process, which is anticipated for spring 2012.

Q: Is FQS designed/implemented by DHS/FEMA or by outside consulting company?
A: FQS is designed/implemented by DHS/FEMA and includes best practices from other agencies.


Q: How can I get a copy of my FQS notification if I am deployed and don't have access to my mail?
A: The FQS Call Center is able to forward a copy of your notification via email or fax. Request a copy of the notification by email to or by calling (855) 377-3362).

Position Task Book (PTB)

Q: If an employee demobilizes (one week or less) prior to receipt of the PTB, how will the employees performance on the disaster be entered into to PTB?
A: The performance of the individual will be evaluated in the next deployment.

Q: Will the PTB be used if an employee is currently deployed?
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 collaboration between the Certifying Official and the Cadre Manager.

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 there will be collaboration between the Certifying Official in collaboration with the Cadre Manager.


Q: Can you please confirm that we are only allowing employees to have one job title in the FQS migration? 
A: At this time, each employee has one title and is assigned to one cadre.  If there are titles subordinate to the position in which they're qualified, that  person may be deployed in those titles. 

Q: When will secondary qualifications be assigned?
A: The possibility of having additional FQS positions assigned to an individual will be considered after implementation.

Q: Under 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; but this is driven by the Force Structure requirements of the Region.

Q: When will secondary job titles be removed from ADD?
A: No definitive date has been set, but ADD is currently being updated. By the time FQS is implemented the secondary titles should have been removed and archived.

Qualification Determination

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% qualified and 20% trainees.

Q: If an employee has disaster related experience and training from an agency outside of FEMA, was that experience/training a consideration for the current FQS positions?  Can training from agencies outside of FEMA be used for reconsideration?
A: Yes, training and experience was taken into consideration for technical fields but more emphasis was placed on performance.  Outside training can be submitted with a reconsideration package.

Q: Will employees be permitted to know the names of the specific Cadre Manager Panel members that determined the initial FQS job titles for them? 
A: While the names of the panel are not available, the panel was comprised of 11 subject matter experts. Of the 11 votes, seven were required for approval of qualification.

Q:  If a DAE Trainee has been deployed for over five months (late 2011 to early 2012) 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 deployment history will be one factor considered for qualification.

Q: Are new employees going to follow the same process used in the June workshop?
A:  New employees will be reviewed by the regional Qualification Review Board.

Q:  How will the employees who did have a disaster title, but were not assigned to a cadre in the region, be evaluated? (e.g. NP, Contracting, and Security - this mainly applies to PFT/CORE employees in the region that are associated with a headquarters entity?
A: All of the personnel in headquarters-based cadres (Comptroller, Security, Safety, ADR, OCC, Contracting/Acquisition, and Financial Management) were migrated at the same time as the regional personnel. The personnel records we used came directly from ADD; to create the lists we attached the new Job Titles from the Work Sheets and (after de-conflicting) forwarded to Regional Administrators. The personnel are listed according to the Regional or headquarters cadre that they are affiliated with in ADD.

Q: If a notification letter is sent out to qualify an employee, but upon looking at the facts they really should have been a trainee, will there be a process put in place to reverse this?
A: Every effort will be made to fix incorrect notification letters prior to implementation of the FQS process. The FQS team has caught some of these incorrect notifications and has sent corrected versions.

Q: Will time in position be considered and not just the identified parameters for qualifications?
A:  Time in position is/will be a factor taken into consideration.

Q:  Why were some employees evaluated but did not receive an FQS title?
A: For the most part, this happened when an employee was qualified for more than one position. The FQS Unit needs more time to ensure that the position assigned to the employee is best for the employee and for the agency.

Q:  I’m a relatively new DAE with extensive interagency fire experience, nationally qualified as a division supervisor.  Will my qualifications, experience, and training transfer to FQS?  
A:  It’s likely that it will.  When FQS is implemented, Qualification Review Boards in the regions will evaluate an individual’s training and background to determine which can be considered.


Q:  I received my FQS notification packet and was rated as a trainee; I disagree with this determination.  I have many years of experience in emergency management and feel that I have not been rated correctly.  What can I do?
A;  Employees can request reconsideration of their qualification by submitting their request in writing to their Cadre Manager within 60 days of receipt of their notification letter.  If the Cadre Manager confirms that the employee has new information that could change the qualifications determination, that information will be forwarded to the same panel that performed the initial cadre evaluations.  If you have questions about this process, please contact your Cadre Manager, email FQS at, or call toll free at 855-377-3362.

Q: What is the plan for reconsideration notification? How will employees be notified of the decision? Will employees know specifically who was involved in the reconsideration process? How will the timeline be tracked?
A: The Cadre Manager submits any reconsideration requests to the review panel via the FQS call center which serves as a tracking tool by logging the request, notifying the employees and starting the 60 day turnaround timeline.

Q: What is considered “new information” for reconsideration? 
A: Any documented information that was not considered when the panel conducted the review for the current FQS Position.

Q:  Will experience in the field, after the initial evaluation panel met be counted in some way?
A:  Any experience gained after the panel convened on June 20, 2011 will be reviewed by regional Quality Review Boards which will be established after FQS is implemented.

Q: Other than going through the formal reconsideration process, is there another method for reevaluating my current qualification? For example, would contact with the Cadre Manager be appropriate to correct an obvious error?
A: All reconsiderations must go through the formal reconsideration process

Q: Please verify the number of days in the reconsideration process. If reconsideration has a 60-day period for the request, is the turnaround time for the decision an additional 60 days? What starts the clock on the two processes?
A: The Employee has 60 days from the date of the letter to request Reconsideration. FEMA has 60 days from the date on the Reconsideration Request to respond to the employee.

Q: What will be the chain of command regarding dispute resolution/reconsideration with FQS? Will it be the Cadre manager FQS Hotline? If the Cadre Manager does not agree with a request for reconsideration, who is next in line to whom concerns should be voiced?
A: While the details of FQS are still under development, the cadre manager is the first line of support for the member/employee. The IWMO liaison is also a contact for support.


Q:  Where can I find the Reservist's pay scale?  
A:  Here's a link to the Reservist's pay scale.

Q: Is there a process in place to make considerations for salary increases and/guidelines for pay increases for Reservistss? If so, will this information be made available?
A: Salary is explained in the FEMA Instruction document number 8600.1. However, the current guidelines for pay increases can be obtained from your Cadre Manager.

Training/Professional Development

Q:  What, if any, professional development opportunities are available for COREs?  They have generally been available to PFTs only. 
A:   CORE employees play a crucial role in our ability to achieve our mission, including accepting leadership positions related to specific disasters.  Currently, CORE employees are able to participate in the FEMA Future Leaders Program, a program designed for  employees who wish to develop proficiency in leader competencies.  FEMA will be announcing several new initiatives, including courses, programs and activities for which CORE employees will be eligible. 

Q: Is there a plan to assure equal and fair consideration for training related to FQS training as well as mandatory training across the agency?
A: Under FQS, employees will receive the training that is required to perform in their titled position.  This includes selection for on-campus training.

Q:  Will there be dedicated funding for training?
A:  Yes, there will be dedicated funding to train the workforce based on the requirements of the Force Structure.

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, as an Individual Assistance Specialist with an interest in Human Resources, can an employee request consideration for a change in cadre and/or position? If so, will employees be afforded the necessary training?
A: Notify your Cadre Manager if you have an interest in changing to a different cadre. The process to change cadres is to communicate with both Cadre Managers involved and let them know of your goals. Changing cadres is on a case-by-case basis based on Force Structure and needs of the agency. If you are approved to change cadres, necessary training will be provided.

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 based on Force Structure and if your position requires it.

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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