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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

FEMA embarks on IT upgrades

New strategy will enable the agency to use DHS administrative systems

The Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to make up for what it says has been a decade of information technology neglect. In the next six months, FEMA will upgrade many of its back-office systems and submit a fiscal 2009 budget proposal loaded with requests for IT project money.

Tony Cira, FEMA’s chief information officer, said the agency needs to synchronize business functions agencywide and share information among its accounting, finance, procurement and human resources organizations.“The way we are set up now causes mistakes and costs to rise,” said Cira, who has been CIO since November 2006.

FEMA hired auditors to analyze 17 business functions, including procurement, human resources and financial management, and the results were worse than expected.

“We found out we had no business processes, no metrics and no accountability,” Johnson said. The auditors provided documentation that will help program managers and executives address the problems.

Cira said one of the first planned changes will be to move payroll processing to the Agriculture Department’s National Finance Center and various human resources functions to the Homeland Security Department’s MaxHR system.

By the end of the summer, FEMA will begin using the Customs and Border Protection agency’s financial management system, which runs SAP software. And by winter, FEMA will move to Prism, DHS’ standard contracting system.

-Jason Miller, FCW.com

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