FEMA has misconduct policies and procedures for its Title 5 and on-call response/recovery employees but not for it surge capacity force members or reservists, GAO has said.
Without such guidance FEMA cannot ensure that misconduct “is addressed adequately in a timely and comprehensive manner,” and supervisors “may not be aware of all aspects of the disciplinary and appeals process,” GAO told a House hearing.
Even for Title 5 employees, FEMA “does not communicate the range of offenses and penalties” because a recent revision to its disciplinary manual eliminated the table of penalties, which many agencies use to provide guidance to those taking disciplinary action against an employee for a given violation. Instead, the agency communicates that information on an individual basis as needed, GAO said.
“Because information about offenses and penalties is not universally shared with supervisors and employees, FEMA management is limited in its ability to set expectations about appropriate conduct in the workplace and to communicate consequences of inappropriate conduct,” it said. Further, the records FEMA keeps on discipline are incomplete and of only limited usefulness in identifying and addressing trends in misconduct, GAO said.
A FEMA witness said that the agency is working to comply with GAO’s recommendations, including plans to soon reissue a table of penalties.