information, such as the amount of funds allocated, obligated, and expended 
on behalf of the states is available in NEMIS.  While NEMIS' predecessor 
system did not provide adequate access or internal management controls, it 
enabled state users to access the FEMA system directly from their desktops.  
Some states even created automated ways to transfer FEMA information to 
their state systems.  However, this is no longer possible with NEMIS due to 
security requirements that limit state employees' ability to access NEMIS 
from their desktops. 
Currently, state users can access NEMIS, but not directly from their desktops.    
Instead, states rely upon stand alone computers and use manual or convoluted 
processes to transfer NEMIS information to their state systems.  For example, 
one state uses five stand alone computers to access NEMIS via a virtual 
private network, which provides a secure, encrypted connection through the 
public internet.  Users in this state manually re key NEMIS information into 
their state systems.  Alternatively, they bypass the virtual private network by 
emailing NEMIS information from the stand alones to their desktops and then 
copy the information into the state systems.  One user even sent NEMIS 
information to a home email address.  Both such practices create information 
security concerns. 
IT Systems Could More Effectively Support Operations 
Because of the unintegrated IT environment, during the 2004 hurricanes, 
EP&R systems did not effectively handle increased workloads, were not 
adaptable to change, and lacked needed capabilities.  Accordingly, FEMA 
field personnel developed manual workarounds, adjusted processes, and 
created alternative IT methods to supplement existing response and recovery 
systems and operations.  Consequently, this created operational inefficiencies 
and hindered the delivery of essential disaster response and recovery services. 
Systems Experienced Difficulty Handling Increased Workloads 
FEMA systems were unable to handle effectively the significantly increased 
workloads required to support disaster victim application processing during 
the 2004 hurricanes.  According to FEMA personnel, they lacked email server 
space to accommodate messages and reports sent from state and local 
emergency centers.  If someone did not routinely clear the emails from the 
server, its capacity would fill up sometimes as much as five to ten times per 
day and the system could crash.  At one point, the system was down for two 
hours at the height of the Florida disasters.  Workers could not save or 
download documents.  Rather than expand server capacity to resolve the 
Emergency Preparedness and Response Could Better Integrate Information Technology  
with Incident Response and Recovery 
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