May 17, 2024

Cassidy, Peters Bill to Bolster FEMA Workforce Planning, Protect Communities from Natural Disasters Advances in Senate 

WASHINGTON – Legislation authored by U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. and Gary Peters (D-MI) directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create a plan for the agency to effectively manage its workforce so that they are well-equipped to help communities deal with natural disasters has advanced in the Senate. FEMA has faced challenges deploying staff with the proper training and skills needed to best address different natural disasters across the country. This legislation would improve FEMA’s employee recruitment and retention efforts, develop strategies to train and deploy their workforce in efficient ways, and utilize data to address and fix staffing gaps. The bill was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

“FEMA’s workforce must be given the tools to effectively do their job and help a community recover,” said Dr. Cassidy. “The Senate is taking steps to ensure FEMA has the necessary staff to care for and assist Americans hit by natural disasters.”

“FEMA is vital to communities as they work to recover from natural disasters,” said Senator Peters. “We must ensure this agency has a strong and reliable workforce that is prepared to assist in any emergency. My bipartisan legislation will help build and maintain FEMA’s staff to ensure survivors get proper assistance after a natural disaster.”

The FEMA Workforce Planning Act would require FEMA to submit a human capital operating plan to Congress every three years to ensure they are attracting the best talent. The plan must include specific retention and recruitment goals, strategies to train and deploy the workforce, and analysis of the current workforce, including gaps that need to be addressed. Additionally, the bill would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit the plan within six months of submission.  


FEMA has faced challenges deploying staff with the proper training and skills needed to respond to natural disasters. In October 2017, GAO found that 54 percent of staff were serving in a capacity in which they were not formally certified according to FEMA’s qualification system standards.