FEMA Pushes IT Upgrades to Keep Pace With Operations

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is going a long way toward putting its slow-footed actions after Hurrican Katrina behind it with its quick response to the recent tornadoes in the South. But a new report is causing concern that the agency is fumbling around in another area.

HurricaneThe Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general has blasted FEMA’s IT infrastructure and management. Its main message: FEMA has struggled with maintaining systems adequate enough to support disaster-recovery efforts since 2005. That was when its handling of Katrina “exposed numerous limitations in FEMA’s IT foundation and system capabilities to support emergency support operations.”

FEMA is trying to fix all that. The agency is pushing ahead with several IT initiatives including an effort to consolidate networks into DHS’ OneNet platform, consolidate its data centers, create a service-oriented architecture to support an integrated environment, and migrate desktops to Windows 7.

The report recommends that FEMA develop a comprehensive IT strategic plan with clear goals (go figure), complete and implement documentation of its enterprise architecture (which is… outdated?), complete a systems inventory and an agency-wide IT budget planning process (funding = modern technology… check). It should ensure that all IT initiatives align with its mission (um, common sense?) and, finally, modernize its mission-critical IT systems (finally getting somewhere).

Maybe it’ll hire a few people who know how to revamp outdated infrastructures and technology. One can only hope.