The purpose of this site is to provide information and updates regarding the Reservist Program and Reservist employees, who support survivors of all-hazard incidents. The intended audience for this section are Reservists, other FEMA employees, as well as non-employees. The site offers the audience insight on programmatic changes, as well as articles and images from response and recovery missions.
Introduction to the Reservist Program
FEMA Reservists are a type of Incident Management responder, hired under The Stafford Act as temporary, intermittent employees. They are a significant FEMA Incident Management workforce component, staffing Joint Field Offices and other activities. These employees can deploy to perform disaster field activities directly related to specific disasters, emergencies, projects, or activities of a non-continuous nature. FEMA is committed to deploy each Reservist at least annually. However, as deployment opportunities are dictated by disaster activity and certain limitations apply regarding their use, Reservists are not guaranteed to deploy. Rather than serve as an alternative to PFT staff, Reservists are a necessary augmentation of PFT staffing.
Reservist Program Employment
Communication Resources for Reservists
FEMA aims to foster clear, consistent lines of communication between Reservists and other parts of the Agency in order to ensure all employees, regardless of duty station or location, have the information they need to be successful. In order to do so, all Reservists need to know who they can contact to address their various concerns. The information provided below delineates the various communications resources available to Reservists.
Cadre Management Team
The first and primary point of contact for all Reservists is their Cadre Coordinator. Cadre Coordinators manage the incident workforce cadres and oversee all aspects of day-to-day cadre management including staffing, equipping, training, qualifying, and performance of the cadre and its members. They are also responsible for communicating with the individual employees of their cadre as changes in policy or procedure affecting the incident workforce occur, and/or if an incident requiring the deployment of a large portion of the cadre takes place. If you do not know who your Cadre Coordinator is, please contact the Workforce Coordination Branch at 855-377-3362 or refer to any edition of the monthly Reservist newsletter, The Buzz.
The Reservist Ombuds supports the Reservist workforce by bringing issues affecting individual Reservists to the attention of program leadership. Systematic issues identified by the Ombuds may form the basis for recommended changes or suggestions to leadership on FEMA policies, instructions, procedures and/or practices to improve the effectiveness of the Reservist workforce. Lester Schoene is the Reservist Ombuds and can be reached at 1-855-OMBUDS1 (1-855-662-8371).
Reservist Advisory Board
The Reservist Advisory Board was established by the Deputy Administrator to facilitate direct communication between the Reservist Community and senior Leadership. While Board members voice concerns common to Reservists, they do not replace the role of the Cadre Coordinator or adjudicate individual employee issues. All Reservists are encouraged, however, to provide feedback on policies or Agency initiatives to Board members so they can be considered during the course of board meetings. Board members can be reached at FEMA-RAB@fema.dhs.gov.
Workforce Coordination Branch (WCB)
The Workforce Coordination Branch, formerly the Pasadena Call Center, serves as a coordination element for Reservists and Cadre Coordinators, particularly on issues pertaining to the FEMA Qualification System, Time and Attendance, Travel Vouchers, and other operational support services as required. They are available Monday-Friday to handle questions pertaining to incident workforce issues and can be reached at 855-377-3362.
Workforce Management Division (WMD)
WMD oversees the management and readiness of the Reservist program and coordinates enterprise-wide communications regarding Reservist issues. Working with the Office of Chief Counsel, Office of the Chief Component Human Capital Officer, and Office of Equal Rights, WMD provides guidance and direction to cadre management personnel on the various policies and procedures affecting the Reservist workforce. WMD routinely responds to issues and concerns of Reservists that cannot be addressed through other venues. If such an issue arises, Reservists should contact the Cadre Support Section at FEMA-WMDCadreSupport@fema.dhs.gov
Deployment Tools & Resources
The FEMA Travel Toolbox is intended to support FEMA travelers by providing the necessary tools and resources to help travelers before, during, and after their travel. The site is broken out into content areas based on traveler feedback and can be accessed on the Financial Management Division page within the FEMA intranet. If you have questions regarding travel and the Concur Government Edition, E-Gov Travel Services, please email FEMAemail@example.com.
Changes to Pre-Approved Non-Availability (PANA)
On November 17th, FEMA established a working group to examine the existing Reservist Conditions of Employment (COE). The goal of the working group was to establish a Reservist employment model that enhanced flexibility within a Reservist work-schedule while also producing a more accurate picture of Reservist availability.
During the course of its review, the working group collaborated with FEMAStat (a program within the Agency that provides analysis for the purpose of assessing key initiatives), they conducted a thorough review of the existing COE, surveyed a random sample of Reservists to solicit their primary concerns and preferences, and consulted with the Reservist Advisory Board on potential courses of action. This analysis yielded a number of key findings noted below.
49% of the Reservists surveyed were dissatisfied with the existing Reservist COE;
In general, Reservists either do not use or do not record the PANA days allotted to them: in 2013 and 2014, more than 50% of Reservists never requested PANA. This prevented the Agency from collecting an accurate picture of availability.
Previously, a request for PANA would prevent a Reservist from deploying in the days or weeks preceding the PANA start date if the requested duration of the deployment overlapped the PANA resulting in a longer “unavailability” period beyond the requested 15 days. This unintentionally decreased the number of days a Reservist would be available for deployment. The existing PANA procedures were inflexible and did not provide Reservists an opportunity to modify their leave schedule if a deployment opportunity arose.
The existing PANA procedures did not allow Reservists to schedule non-availability for short periods of time – for weekend events, medical procedures, or other events.
In order to address these concerns, the working group proposed a modification to PANA policies. Elizabeth Zimmerman, Director of Disaster Operations approved these change, and these modified procedures will take effect on July 1, 2015. Under the new policy, the total allotted days of PANA will increase from 60 to 90 days and need not be taken in 15 day blocks. In addition:
PANA requests must be completed through Deployment Tracking System (DTS) and approved by a Reservist’s Supervisor of Record.
PANA requests equal to 5 or more days must be requested 30 days in advance.
PANA requests equal to 4 or less days may not be requested more than 14 days in advance.
Absent a deployment request, any change to an approved PANA request must be coordinated with the employee’s supervisor of record.
PANA requests will no longer preclude a Reservist from deployment eligibility. A Reservist will not receive a deployment request while on PANA, but may receive a deployment request that would encompass approved upcoming PANA days. In this instance, a Reservist will have the opportunity to either:
Accept the deployment request and cancel PANA days without counting against the 90 days allotted, or Decline the deployment request without declination penalty if any portion of the deployment request overlaps approved PANA.
Reservists will no longer need to exhaust PANA before using Extended Reservist Leave for significant life events and this policy will not affect those Reservists who are eligible for leave under the Family Medical and Leave Act.
We believe these changes will yield a more flexible employment model, one that supports the operational readiness requirements of the Agency while providing Reservists greater control of their schedule. The attached FAQs provide additional information regarding this change.
Reservists remain integral members of the incident workforce, and this policy change is an important step in ensuring FEMA remains capable of meeting the Nation’s needs. WMD will work closely with cadre management to ensure the policy is enforced fairly and equitably across cadres. For any questions on this policy, please contact your Cadre Coordinator/ Reservist Program Manager or the Workforce Coordination Branch (855-377-3362, Monday through Friday 9 am – 6 pm EDT). You can also provide feedback on systemic issues to the Reservist Ombuds at 1-855-OMBUDS1.