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April 23, 2013

GAO Details How FEMA Can Improve Reservist Program

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to W. Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) regarding recommendations in a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on FEMA's reservist training program entitled "FEMA Reservists: Training Could Benefit from Examination of Practices at Other Agencies" (GAO-13-250R). The report, which Ranking Member Thompson requested, examined reservist programs at other government agencies with a disaster response mission and compared them to FEMA's program. Within FEMA, the Reservists are the first wave of employees who walk into disasters, provide aid and comfort to displaced survivors, and help those who have suffered tragedy find help, housing, and access government benefits.

GAO found many similarities and differences but noted that FEMA did not examine the training practices of these agencies and incorporate applicable practices into their program. GAO found that FEMA could:

  • Provide introductory training prior to deployment and include refresher training.
  • Utilize job aids to assist reserve employees perform responsibilities accurately after training.
  • Solicit customer feedback information from other agencies which could be relevant to their operations.

Congressman Thompson released the following statement on the report and the letter:

"This report shows many areas for FEMA to improve upon and I am pleased that FEMA has already started the first steps. However, Congress and the Administration must ensure that FEMA follows through. I am writing to FEMA to assure that they actively pursue outreach with other agencies, use GAO's guidance in their analysis of other reservist programs, and incorporate changes in the FEMA Reservist program that will improve agency performance."

Link to Letter

Link to Report

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978