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FEMA Needs to Effectively Designate Volunteers and Manage the Surge Capacity Force

Executive Summary

FEMA is not effectively designating Surge Capacity Force (SCF) volunteers and managing the SCF program during disaster operations.  In 2017, FEMA was not prepared to deploy SCF Tier 4 volunteers rapidly and efficiently because FEMA had neither a clear commitment from agencies outside DHS to participate in SCF, nor a roster of volunteers capable of rapidly deploying.  FEMA did not adequately measure SCF performance because it did not have mechanisms to collect data and feedback to gauge program success.  FEMA did not effectively manage the SCF financial program because it relied heavily on the financial controls of volunteers’ home agencies without guarding against breakdowns in those controls.  Finally, FEMA did not close mission assignments promptly because it did not make closing them a priority in what officials described as a series of “overwhelming” catastrophes.  We made four recommendations for FEMA to improve designation of SCF volunteers and management of the SCF program.  FEMA concurred with three of our four recommendations.

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