After nine years and $247 million, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) new high-tech disaster relief system may not work as intended, according to a new report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Not only is the system unable to interface with systems of suppliers and partners, but FEMA does not have enough personnel trained on how to use the system, nor is there published guidance or procedures should the system be unavailable. Additionally, the estimated "life cycle cost of the system" is about $556 million, which is $231 million more than the original estimate.
FEMA's purpose for the Logistics Supply Chain Management System (LSCMS) was to make the acquisition and delivery of emergency supplies (water, food, generator, blankets) quicker and more efficient. However, according to Inspector General John Roth, "One of FEMA’s prime missions is to immediately provide survivors with three days’ worth of basic emergency supplies. As presently configured, this supply chain system is not up to that task.” Roth's report placed the blame on DHS and FEMA:
We attribute these deficiencies to inadequate program management and oversight by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA. As a result, FEMA may not be able to efficiently and effectively aid survivors of catastrophic disaster.
As recently as July 2014, FEMA had filled only 33 of 116 "logistics specialist positions" needed to operate the system in the event of an emergency, and not all of those had necessarily completed their training. Record-keeping for LSCMS training was so poor that the OIG "identified four logistics specialists with no record of having completed the LSCMS basic training course; yet in 2013, they were deployed for disaster response."
The OIG's report made 11 recommendations as a result of the audit, one of which FEMA has already fully addressed and the OIG considers closed. FEMA has begun to take action on most of the remaining recommendations, but the OIG is awaiting evidence of implementation before considering them resolved. In any case, even with the recommendations implemented, the OIG expressed doubt that the system would ever function as originally intended, concluding that "the current LSCMS may not ever meet critical performance requirements."