When we started discussing the FEMA Workplace Transformation, I asked you to embrace the concept that a seamless transition depends on changing current organizational culture – in particular, we must modernize current business practices.
President Obama made modernizing business practices a priority. At the White House Forum on Modernizing Government, the President stated that “We’ve got to get the best bang for every single dollar that the government has in its possession. And when Washington lags a generation behind in how we do business that has a real and serious impact on people’s lives. When we waste billions, in part because our technology is out of date, that’s billions of dollars we’re not investing in better schools for our children, in tax relief for our small businesses, in creating jobs and funding research to spur scientific breakthroughs and economic growth of this new century. And we know that the tools, the technology, the solutions are out there. You know because you put them in place every day.”
An Oracle report, “Oracle IT Modernization Series: Why Modernize?” agrees that business process modernization reduces costs, increases agility, improves compliance and reduces reliance on disappearing legacy skill sets. If we continue to use systems that are mostly paper-based and rely on outdated technology, FEMA will not inherit all the benefits that could accompany the FEMA Workplace Transformation.
FEMA is not alone in this effort. Organizations across Government have already started to see the benefits of modernization. For instance, the U.S. Veteran’s Administration modernized their compensation and pension processing system, thereby increasing flexibility and scalability which resulted in improvements in customer service. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also working to modernize its business processes and IT systems through their Customs Modernization Project known as eCP.
We are fortunate that FEMA recognized early on the importance of modernizing business processes and established a workgroup to make the Workplace Transformation vision a reality. The eFlow workgroup, chaired by the Office of the Chief Information Officer and comprised of members from FEMA organizations has been tasked to examine current processes that are paper-based and determine the best strategy to convert them into a paperless process. The goal is to reduce redundancy, create electronic flow systems (to include eSignature) and transition FEMA into a paperless work process environment, enabling us to effectively become a mission-centric mobile workplace.
Modernization also means improving services to FEMA employees. For instance, electronic signatures on travel vouchers provide deployed employees a more timely reimbursement and they are no longer frustrated with trying to print, sign and scan vouchers. The New York JFO has a green initiative where they have instituted this to reduce the volume of paper consumed and to address a variety of environmental initiatives,
Currently being piloted are fully electronic SF182 submissions. Once the pilot is completed and rolled out FEMA wide it will enable applying for training easier and will help facilitate the process.
I know that modernization – or change for that matter – is not easy or fast, but it is essential to our Workplace Transformation and we need everyone to be willing to embrace this change.