Florida hurricanes, these officials used hand receipts to distribute quickly the 
property to those who needed it.  Typically, these transactions were not 
entered into LIMS III until as many as ten days later, so the system did not 
maintain an accurate, real time inventory of the property on hand.  Similarly, 
when Florida requested 500 cell phones, the phones were issued using hand 
receipts not through LIMS III.  FEMA officials said that it later required 
about ten minutes to enter the information from the hand receipts into LIMS 
III for each of the phones issued.  
In addition, LIMS III does not track critically needed commodities, such as 
water, ice, or tarps.  Instead, emergency coordinators use spreadsheets to track 
these goods outside of LIMS III.  An Atlanta regional official said that this 
significantly increased the workload of the regional operations center.  This 
also required the assignment of additional personnel to obtain the status of 
deployed commodities and complicated emergency response planning and 
coordination.   
For example, during the 2004 hurricanes, the State of Florida requested ice 
and water via action request forms.  Hard copy mission assignments were 
completed, and the regional operations center used them to assign the request 
to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The regional operations center tracked 
the mission assignments via spreadsheets because FEMA does not have a 
system to track deployed commodities.  When asked about delivery status, 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials could only tell center officials that 
they were en route with the items.  After the items were received onsite, an 
accountability property officer faxed copies of the paper receipts to the center.  
This was a time consuming and resource intensive process.  In one instance, 
approximately 1,500 tractor trailers delivered commodities to a staging area.  
(See Figure 9).  The accountability property officer had to survey the area, 
manually inventory the commodities received, and email that inventory 
information to the regional operations center.  Because there was no 
automated way to coordinate quantities of commodities with the people 
available to accept and distribute them, millions of dollars worth of ice was 
left unused at staging areas in Florida; and, about $1.6 million worth of 
leftover water had to be returned to the warehouse for storage. 
Emergency Preparedness and Response Could Better Integrate Information Technology  
with Incident Response and Recovery 
Page 28 






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