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Overview, Scope and Methodology: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report

FEMA's Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report evaluates FEMA’s COVID-19 operations. The report identifies key findings in five areas:

  • Coordinating structures and policy
  • Resources
  • Supporting state, local, tribal and territorial (SLTT) partners
  • Preparedness and information analysis
  • Organizational resilience

The report provides targeted recommendations based on the findings. The report does not evaluate the role of other federal agencies or SLTT partners, non-governmental organizations or private sector partners.

About the Report

Time Period

The Initial Assessment Report covers the timeframe from January 2020 through the end of September 2020, and primarily focuses on the March 18, 2020, through September 30, 2020, timeframe when FEMA was designated lead for federal operations coordination.


The Initial Assessment Report was developed collaboratively by:

  • FEMA’s Continuous Improvement Program
  • All 10 FEMA regional offices
  • Field offices in states, tribes and territories affected by COVID-19

The report includes FEMA’s COVID-19 operations at the field, region, and headquarters levels and FEMA’s internal operations to ensure continuity of its mission.


COVID-19 is the first national pandemic response that FEMA has supported since the agency was established in 1979. While responding to the pandemic, FEMA managed 57 concurrent Presidential Major Disaster Declarations—one for every state, the District of Columbia, five territories and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. All 10 FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCCs) activated and responded simultaneously.

The Initial Assessment Report is a public document to be shared with the emergency management community, key stakeholders and the public. The report findings and recommendations will be used to inform FEMA and the emergency management community and improve existing and future responses to pandemics. The FEMA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report was released on January 15, 2021.


FEMA applied a data-driven, mixed-methods approach to developing the Initial Assessment Report. To compile the report, FEMA:

  • Developed a consistent national data collection plan
  • Conducted 244 interviews and 44 debriefings across Headquarters and all 10 FEMA regions and with National Response Coordination Center leadership, as well as with the leads and staff from the multidisciplinary interagency task forces
  • Interviewed the FEMA Administrator; senior executives in the Office of Response and Recovery, Mission Support, and Resilience; and the 10 FEMA Regional Administrators
  • Deployed 14 surveys in the FEMA Regions and National Response Coordination Center that had 2,928 collective respondents and a FEMA-wide survey that had 4,430 respondents
  • Briefed three interim assessments to senior leadership on tactical and operational findings
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Read about the key findings and recommendations identified in the Initial Assessment Report.