Editors note: This is from an anonymous former FEMA employee, written in response to “An Insider’s Critique of FEMA.” If any current or former FEMA employees have a story/ critique for this blog you may send as an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
After reviewing the main story and the following comments, and after serving in FEMA for a very long time, I agree with the local hire’s findings, and so do A LOT of FEMA personnel, both permanent and reservist. It’s not a matter of hurt feelings, its the gross lack of leadership, accountability, and corruption within FEMA.
As the old saying goes, ‘the devil is in the details.’ And the local hire did a great job detailing the corruption, laziness, and complete absence of leadership within FEMA. Certainly, there are several accounts of FEMA personnel doing their job, behaving in a responsible/professional manner that care deeply about disaster affected areas.
However, what this local hire witnessed has been witnessed by all FEMA personnel. And FEMA has done nothing about it. FEMA’s union/4060 in D.C. had done a lengthy document on identifying the gross negligence towards reservists, which jeopardized their safety. It was titled ‘Shattering the illusion of FEMA’s Progress,‘ dated 2/3/2009. In it, are several reservist accounts of fraud, waste and abuse. In some cases, reservists were nearly killed due to stupid leadership orders. Of course, those leaders have been promoted since 2008. This attempt to include and represent reservists was the last time it was ever attempted. This expose’ was sent to HQ, to the media, and to other sources. Obviously none of it was ever taken to heart.
For reservists, there’s virtually no oversight, particularly in CR and EA. There is the CLASSIC ‘fuck up and move up’ crowd which continues to get promoted after being reported for abuse, fraud and waste. Everyone knows this, everyone has complained through Equal Rights, ADR and other mechanisms. No results.
The pervasive passive aggressive fear mongering which has destroyed the reservist ranks stacks up in the numbers. Since the fascist forced ‘takeover’ by FEMA HQ to bully and control reservists nation-wide, there’s been over 3,500 who have quit, and many who continue to leave in droves. Why? It’s a well known fact that HQ created the COE to punish, restrict and drive off seasoned reservists. There’s no personal attention being paid any longer to you after being corralled from Regional supervision.
Getting rid of seasoned reservists means targeting higher paid DAEs. Americorps recently got slotted 800 FEMA jobs nationwide, and to the cheap cost of roughly $5 per day. Being the fiscal hawk he has always been, it’s always been a dismal awareness to reservists that Fugate never liked DAEs (i.e. his famous ‘Walk On’ statement) and considers them to be a very expensive waste of time. Hence the aggressive use, expedited training and exceptional attention paid to inexperienced, unreliable, and transient Americorps numbers.
On Hurricane Sandy, several hundred ‘surge’ personnel went unused. The unprofessional mistreatment of the surge personnel resulted in approx. 200 surge individuals who basically boarded a plane and got the heck out of there. They didn’t even check out of the JFO.
The small attempt to beef up numbers of reservists via USAJOBS was a total bust. The entry level pay hovers from $12-$15 per hour. An insulting hourly amount for receiving no benefits and having to adhere to HQ’s brutally restrictive ‘conditions of hire.’
Over a year ago, the FEMA Regions fought extremely hard to not let HQ ‘steal’ their reservists, and unfortunately lost. The impersonal database, FQS and the IMWO (Oh, btw, major nepotism and favoritism for the IMWO’s top dog/Coleman…completely illegal by federal hiring standards) have proved to be nothing but a failed and unvetted process in which you cannot even challenge without being blacklisted by HQ. So, what else can reservists do? Resign. I’m glad I did, and it continues to be a drag down fight that some of the reservists are trying to do via Congressional complaints, petitions, etc.
To make a comparison to the old workforce days before unions, if workers have no legal protection or process to protect themselves against corporate fascists then you will always find corruption. The reservist workforce has no legal protection, no union, and no one in HQ who has ever cared about retaining, supporting, communicating, promoting, or representing the reservists.
Everyone can see that the brutal fight between HQ and the Regions was for 100% control over the reservists, and it was ultimately to exterminate them over time by driving them off. Congratulations HQ, you’ve accomplished your ulterior plans to dismantle the reservist force numbers and replace them with a false bottom of trumped up stats.
I hope the taxpayers learn of this ‘smoke & mirrors’ sleight of hand shell game to fool Congress. Media and elected officials should look into the deliberate scam from the IMWO down through the Agency. The private contractor who ‘trained’ the FEMA Americorps folks was in the millions of sweetheart funds. It’s the taxpayers who are getting robbed blind.