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News Release

Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Contact: Brendan LaCivita
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Releases Results of the 2004 Federal Agency Emergency Preparedness Survey

James announces survey results indicate significant increases in agency planning and preparation and announces trainings for areas needing improvement

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Kay Coles James today issued the results of the second governmentwide Emergency Preparedness Survey. The survey asked where agencies stood on the minimum criteria they should meet as they take steps to ensure the safety of their employees.

"The safety and security of federal employees is a chief concern for President George W. Bush," stated James. "The goal of the survey is to determine what federal agencies have done to ensure the safety of their employees, and to prepare agencies for regular progress reports. Engaging in emergency preparedness activities add to the security of the homeland. Since this is a fundamental issue, these efforts must involve management, employees, and union representatives."

Based on feedback from last year's survey -- the first time OPM engaged in such a project -- James issued an expanded survey this year to include agency efforts to identify and name emergency personnel to conduct essential agency operations during a man-made or natural emergency. Agency planning, employee communication, and building operations were the three areas on which the survey focused. Specific actions the criteria covered included, but were not limited to, shelter-in-place drills, distribution of emergency guides, and the designation of emergency personnel. 

One month after receiving this year's survey, 75 percent of agencies surveyed have responded, compared with a total of 55 percent of agencies in 2003. Listed below are more critical findings from the survey:

  • Sixty-five percent of agencies surveyed reported they have designated emergency personnel for agency mission continuity.
  • Sixty percent of agencies surveyed report having an updated Occupant Emergency Plan - this is a 36 percent increase from 2003.
  • Sixty-three percent of agencies have conducted threat assessments - a 47 percent increase from 2003.
  • Seventy-one percent of agencies reported ensuring the protection of special needs employees - a 65 percent increase from 2003.
  • Seventy percent of surveyed agencies have communicated their emergency preparedness plans to their employees.

While agencies improved in every area surveyed, some key areas are in need of further improvement:

  • Many agencies still have not communicated with employees and union representatives about security measures in place at the agency.
  • Fewer than half the agencies have practiced shelter-in-place and evacuation fire drills regularly.
  • Only 43 percent of agencies have a policy regarding the use of telework during an emergency.

"Although more needs to be done to enhance agencies' emergency preparedness, we are pleased with those agencies that honored their commitments to ensure the safety of federal employees," James stated. "Because emergency planning and safety efforts are necessary, OPM will continue to conduct this survey until the president is fully satisfied with the results."

Results of this year's survey were compared to those of the previous year and will be reviewed by the Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness of the Chief Human Capital Officers' Council. Director James, chair of the Chief Human Capital Officers' Council, charged the council's Emergency Subcommittee with designing efforts to further drive management and employees to focus on readiness.

In addition, this spring, OPM will host two more government-wide trainings to further assist agencies in their emergency preparedness efforts. These trainings will address those areas where the greatest room for improvement exists - planning for, executing and evaluating shelter-in-place and evacuation drills, as well as the use of telework for employees during an emergency.

For more agency information on the survey, please contact Brendan LaCivita at (202) 606-2402.

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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