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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report

FEMA’s Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report evaluates FEMA’s COVID-19 response operations. The report identifies key findings in five areas and provides targeted recommendations based on the findings. The report covers January through September 2020, and primarily focuses on the March 18 through September 30, 2020 timeframe when FEMA was designated lead for federal operations coordination. The report does not evaluate other federal agencies or state, local, tribal or territorial partners.

The Initial Assessment Report is a collaborative product of the agency across all 10 FEMA regions and field offices in the affected states, tribes and territories.

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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report

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Overview, scope and methodology

Key findings and recommendations

Key Findings and Recommendations

The Initial Assessment Report identifies 32 key findings and 57 recommendations to improve existing and future responses to pandemic incidents.

The findings and recommendations are organized in five areas.

Coordinating Structures and Policy

FEMA leveraged existing federal policies and structures in non-typical ways and adapted its processes to coordinate the COVID-19 response.

See more Coordinating Structures and Policy findings


FEMA engaged with private sector stakeholders to secure critical supply chains.

See more Resources findings

Preparedness and Information Analysis

Federal pandemic planning did not account for nationwide resource shortages.

See more Preparedness and Information Analysis findings

Supporting State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Partners

FEMA’s existing relationships provided an effective framework to support state, local, tribal and territorial partners.

See more Supporting State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Partners findings

Organizational Resilience

FEMA responded to multiple disasters simultaneously.

See more Organizational Resilience findings

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the FEMA Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Initial Assessment Report?

The report assesses FEMA’s COVID-19 response. The Initial Assessment Report identifies key findings in five areas:

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

Findings from the report will be used to improve preparedness for pandemic incidents and other responses.

FEMA assesses its operations to identify opportunities for improvements. The “Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act” also requires the agency to analyze real-world events to identify and disseminate lessons learned and best practices.

How was the report developed?

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, National Response Coordination Center leadership, and 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, Resilience and the 10 FEMA Regional Administrators.
  • Deployed 14 surveys in FEMA’s 10 Regions and National Response Coordination Center that had 2,928 collective respondents. Additionally, a FEMA-wide survey had 4,430 respondents.

How is the report structured?

The report includes an executive summary and an overview of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. The introduction to federal operations provides a summary of the authorities and operating environment for a pandemic response and the scope, methodology and organization of the report. Findings are presented for the five evaluation areas. The report concludes with recommendations for how FEMA can improve its preparedness for pandemic incidents.

What are the key findings of the report?

The Initial Assessment Report identifies 32 key findings and 57 recommendations in five areas to prepare FEMA and the nation for future nationwide incidents and pandemics. Many of the findings pertain to supply chain issues and managing shortages. FEMA is recording lessons learned during the incident and strengthening its relationships with other federal agencies to make the process smoother in the future.

How will FEMA institutionalize the recommendations in the report?

The report will inform the FEMA Administrator's 2021 planning guidance and prepare the agency for future pandemics. FEMA will also implement best practices from the Initial Assessment Report across the agency and share them with state, local, tribal and territorial partners, other federal agencies, and the wider emergency management community.