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Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management today gave Congress an informative look at the nationwide network of more than two dozen government bodies that perform communications and coordination functions to help federal agencies stay up and running during pandemic or other emergencies.
Kevin E. Mahoney, OPM's Associate Director, Human Capital Leadership and Merit System Accountability, today testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about the role of the 28 Federal Executive Boards (FEB) in maintaining operations and services for the American public during crisis. OPM oversees FEB operations.
"OPM Director Springer and all of us at OPM take very seriously the direction President Bush has assigned our agency with respect to pandemic preparedness," said Mahoney. He noted OPM's work in developing human capital policies and mechanisms to keep agency operations up and running during a pandemic or other emergency, while keeping federal employees safe. He said OPM also offers training to HR and emergency preparedness personnel on the human capital dimensions of threat preparedness and response.
Mahoney described for Members the work of FEBs, which generally serve as liaisons between agency headquarters and field operations, disseminating policy and management information from Washington, and providing feedback from the field.
In response to the 2001 terrorist attacks and subsequent weather emergencies that hit the Gulf Coast and southeastern United States, Mahoney said OPM elevated FEB activities in the areas of emergency preparedness, security, employee safety and human capital readiness. To this end, the success of FEBs in establishing communications systems and supporting agencies with their emergency planning helped prevent a disruption of government services following this summer's bridge collapse in Minnesota. Thousands of federal employees live and work in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the site of the collapse.
"The contributions these boards can make toward emergency preparedness for federal employees, their families, and indeed, for all Americans, have become more evident as a result of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005," said Mahoney.
Mahoney also addressed a Government Accountability Office report published in May 2007 and its recommendations for enhancing the role of FEBs during emergencies. Pursuant to the recommendations, he said OPM and the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA) are developing a Memorandum of Understanding laying out key FEB functions to support the agency's emergency planning and response efforts; he added that improved performance measures and accountability for emergency support will be in place for the FEB network by October 2008.
Mahoney noted OPM's agreement with two additional GAO recommendations on integrating FEB emergency support responsibilities into national emergency response plans and frameworks, and exploring "funding alternatives" that would enhance FEB staffing and response activities.
FEBs operate in major metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, which house large populations of federal employees.
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.