After more than two years of work, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has yet to issue its National Preparedness Report, nor has it adopted a comprehensive assessment system to measure how prepared the agency is for a major disaster, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report.
“Until such a framework is in place, FEMA will not have a basis to operationalize and implement its conceptual approach for assessing local, state, and federal preparedness capabilities against capability requirements to identify capability gaps for prioritizing investments in national preparedness,” the GAO said.
FEMA began developing its National Preparedness Report in October 2008, and hopes to have the plan finalized and approved by the end of December, the watchdog said. The report and accompanying assessment system were mandated by Congress after the 9/11 terror attacks and Hurricane Katrina exposed holes in emergency preparedness.
Last year, the GAO reprimanded FEMA and criticized the agency’s struggle to meet requirements and to define emergency response roles and responsibilities. But the GAO found the same problems — a lack of reliable data and standardization in reporting — persist one year later. “FEMA has made limited progress in implementing its national preparedness capabilities assessment efforts since we reported on its efforts in April 2009,” the watchdog said.
Also, a program examining how prepared each U.S. state is has inconsistent data, the watchdog said. FEMA has yet to determine projected costs for improving U.S. disaster preparedness, it said.
FAST FACT: FEMA, a unit within the Homeland Security Department, budgeted $58 million to evaluate the agency’s preparedness.
Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities. Congressional Research Service reports, which prepared for lawmakers but not made public, were provided by the Center for Democracy and Technology.
* The EPA is reorganizing its library network to put more documents online, but the agency has not estimated the cost of digitizing documents or how long the project will take. (GAO)
* An analysis of Congress by each two-year session shows that, on average, 10 senators and 55 House members leave Congress upon expiration of their terms of office. (Congressional Research Service)
* Some employers in the H-2B visa program, which allows the temporary hiring of non-agricultural foreign workers, have failed to pay promised wages or overtime, charged extra fees to workers, and submitted false documents to government officials. (GAO)