mission needs.  FEMA's approach to defining requirements to support 
development of its principal disaster management system has not been 
effective, however.  When the CIO office began to develop NEMIS in 1995, 
the office documented a set of system requirements.  But, an EP&R CIO 
official noted that headquarters personnel were usually responsible for the 
requirements definition process and that not all of FEMA's stakeholders were 
involved.  Consequently, once NEMIS became operational, the system 
automated a process that did not reflect how FEMA personnel actually behave 
during disasters.  To address this disparity, the EP&R CIO office had users 
come in after the initial release of NEMIS to look at each individual module 
and suggest system changes. 
Lacking an effective means to provide input to NEMIS development, users 
have been forced to rely on systems that do not effectively meet their 
requirements, modify their processes, or resort to manual workarounds.  For 
example, after an incident occurs, regional officials are supposed to use 
NEMIS' preliminary damage assessment module to evaluate destruction and 
losses due to disasters, and subsequently submit that information to 
headquarters, along with state requests for federal assistance.  However, a 
regional official said that emergency personnel do not use this module to the 
fullest extent possible.  Instead of directly entering the damage assessments 
into the system, emergency personnel collect and fax the information for 
review and consideration.  The official said that it is easier and faster to 
submit the damage assessments in hard copy than use the poorly designed 
NEMIS module.   
The EP&R CIO now recognizes the need to improve efforts to reach out to IT 
users across the directorate and has established forums for discussing and 
defining system requirements.  For example, the EP&R CIO office has 
assigned each system a customer advocate and a program manager from the 
various program areas.  Program officials approve the requests for systems 
changes and provide them to IT personnel for further review.  IT personnel 
then discuss how proposed systems changes will be implemented.  A policy 
steering committee, consisting of managers from FEMA headquarters, defines 
the business processes that are echoed in the technical systems requirements.   
Further, the EP&R CIO has proposed updating NEMIS requirements to 
support the proposed eNEMIS initiative.  In commenting on this report, the 
EP&R CIO discussed plans to elicit broad stakeholder participation in the 
requirements definition process for the e NEMIS initiative. Broad stakeholder 
participation in the requirements definition process will be essential to deliver 
a web based NEMIS to meet varied user needs. 
Emergency Preparedness and Response Could Better Integrate Information Technology  
with Incident Response and Recovery 
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