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Federal Emergency Management Agency

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Improving the support experience for disaster survivors

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Enabling a learning culture at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), empowering FEMA staff with the information they need to best support the needs of disaster survivors, increasing the efficiency of the agency and improving outcomes for citizens.

About FEMA

The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to help people before, during, and after disasters. After large disasters, FEMA provides a suite of assistance to eligible individuals, families, and households to help with their recovery.

The challenge

How can we help FEMA's Individual Assistance Division leverage their limited resources to make the biggest impact and ensure the assistance FEMA provides after a disaster is prioritized to meet the most important needs of disaster survivors?

The project

The Presidential Innovation Fellow will join the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance (IA) team responsible for working with survivors of disasters as they move towards recovery. This Division of more than 3,000 staff manages the customer relationship with disaster survivors.

During the 2017 Hurricane Season, which included Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the Individual Assistance Division was responsible for:

  • New relationships with nearly 4.5 million new disaster survivors requesting assistance.
  • More than 11 million phone conversations with these disaster survivors.
  • More than 900,000 in-person visits with disaster survivors.
  • More than 20 million written contacts with survivors, including 17.9 million outbound letters, and 2.7 million inbound document submissions.
  • More than 460,000 visits by disaster survivors to a FEMA recovery center.
  • Distribution of more than $4 billion to eligible disaster survivors to aid in their recovery.

The PIF will review the existing data, team and program structure to evaluate the overall customer experience capability of IA. Based on this review, the PIF will develop a comprehensive plan to improve on FEMA’s current mechanisms to enable survivor feedback to better and more immediately drive program effectiveness and evolution. This will enable a learning culture at FEMA, empowering FEMA staff with the information they need to best support the needs of disaster survivors, increasing the efficiency of the agency and improving outcomes for citizens.

Examples of success:

    Feedback is collected and observed from disaster survivors, continuously, and in large volumes, in a seamless manner, on par with private sector best practices. Key metrics are known, utilized, and celebrated by IA staff at all levels. Staff have a clear sense of how their day to day work drives towards better disaster recovery outcomes and has an impact on key metrics. Feedback is collected and analyzed in real time, allowing for faster learning and more responsive, effective and efficient FEMA programs. Feedback collection is channel and program agnostic. A culture where IA leadership and staff at all levels have a constant awareness of our most recent key metrics, which are so ingrained in our culture, that staff recites them from memory.