We do not agree with the EP&R CIO's response.  First, it should be noted that 
during the audit we met with FEMA's strategic planning unit, as well as with 
other program officials to discuss the agency's planning activities.  Based on 
these meetings and our review of supporting documentation, we devised 
findings and recommendations regarding the need to update the strategic plan 
and establish better linkages between it and the IT plan.  At the May 17, 2005, 
audit exit meeting where we discussed a preliminary draft of the report, EP&R 
CIO officials did not address our conclusions or recommendations regarding 
strategic planning.  Indeed, one FEMA official conceded that the lack of 
alignment in strategic planning likely was due to creation of the EP&R 
directorate and FEMA's transition into the department events over which 
they had little control.  
Second, with regard to the EP&R CIO's concern about the overall tone of the 
report, we made considerable efforts to revise the report based on comments 
that EP&R CIO officials provided during our audit exit meeting and their 
review of a preliminary draft of our report pursuant to that meeting.  In 
response to the EP&R CIO's formal written comments, we have assessed the 
tone of the report and made additional changes where appropriate.  Still, a 
number of the IT issues we raise, such as the lack of systems integration and 
challenges in handling processing workloads, are not new, dating back to well 
before the current EP&R administration and FEMA's integration into DHS, 
and were consistently evidenced or voiced to us by EP&R officials and 
systems stakeholders during our audit.  We acknowledge in the report the 
various instances where EP&R is working to address such issues; our 
recommendations are intended to encourage continued progress and 
improvement in these areas. 
Third, we believe that the EP&R CIO incorrectly equates the agency's ability 
to meet the disaster management challenges to date with effective and 
efficient IT management.  While we state in our report that EP&R was able to 
get through the 2004 hurricanes, often experiencing significant achievements, 
high customer satisfaction, and high volume processing, we also recognize 
that FEMA's accomplishments were not necessarily because of its IT systems, 
but often in spite of them.  Users across EP&R consistently told us that they 
did not use the headquarters supplied systems, but instead relied upon 
alternative methods, such as creating ad hoc spreadsheets and databases or 
resorting to manual methods, to perform their jobs.  Where IT systems were 
used, they often did not operate effectively.  For example, systems were slow, 
froze, or lacked server space or memory due to the dramatic increases in 
systems users and processing workloads during the 2004 hurricanes.  The 
EP&R CIO's own FY 2005 strategic plan also states that during the 
Emergency Preparedness and Response Could Better Integrate Information Technology  
with Incident Response and Recovery 
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