Establishing Consistent Procedures to Measure the Performance of FEMA grants – the Approach to Equipment Management

A stopwatch lay on a white table. Papers are strewn about, with one large paper that says "Audit" in the middle
manage inventory to meet the requirements on FEMA grantees

manage inventory to meet the requirements on FEMA grantees

I have previously shared my thoughts on how private businesses should make strategic and operational changes to improve their enterprise asset management practices and potentially leverage that as a source for competitive advantages. These changes include establishing performance metrics and accountability to these metrics.

Improving enterprise asset management practices will also benefit the Public Sector, including 1) increasing accountability in spending public funds: 2) enabling efficient delivery of services. To improve the enterprise asset management practices, the Public Sector should also establish consistent measures to track the performance. There is a lot of work to be done in this area.

For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided billions of dollars in grants to emergency management agencies and first responder organizations throughout the country to build disaster response capabilities. But consistent procedures to measure the Performance of FEMA grants have yet to be established

In a June’2013 GAO report, after reviewing the performance of two FEMA grant programs: the Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) and Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG), GAO recommended that “FEMA ensure that there are consistent procedures in place at the program office and regional level to validate and verify the performance data…”

According to FEMA officials, neither program has a standardized tool with which to validate the performance data that are self-reported by recipients; additionally, the regions are inconsistent in their approaches to verifying program performance data — Highlights of GAO 13-552, a report to congressional requesters

There are a lot of work to do to establish consistent procedures across all the grant recipients. However, there are already best practices emerging among regional offices and local emergency management agencies. FEMA’s program offices can leverage these best practices, foster sharing and learning among regions and local governments, for the purpose of establishing consistent procedures.

In the area of equipment management, the best practice example can be found in the Pittsburgh UASI. FEMA’s website has provided their Equipment Request Form and Inventory Tracking Form as an example that can be utilized by FEMA Grantees to assist in the development, review, and update of their current grant processes.

Talking to the folks at the Pittsburgh UASI, I understand that there are many factors behind the success of their equipment management practices. These factors include People, Processes and Technology.

  1. They have a governance structure that fosters sharing of knowledge and resources, and effective decision making
  2. They have dedicated and experienced regional staff to support the equipment management process, e.g. standardizing the required information for the equipment data
  3. They have established processes, and communicated these processes with all the counties in this region, to support the life cycle management of equipment.
  4. They have employed efficient software tools to support their equipment management practices.

The FEMA program offices have identified the right organization as best practices in equipment management. If they can effective encourage the learning and knowledge sharing among all recipients, I am sure they will very soon establish consistent procedures to measure the performance of grants in all areas.

At E-ISG, we provide the Commercial Off the Shelf Software (COTS) solution eQuip! for emergency management agencies to better manage inventory. If you would like to see a short software demo, please visit here.

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