FEMA's mission support bureau has become emblematic of the problems presented by bureaucracy. The components of the mission support bureau have added hundreds of requirements to the rest of the agency. One recent example include a new form that has to be filled out and submitted to FEMA HQ before a manager can move a CORE staff member's desk at a remote facility. While this seems trivial, it is part of the death by a thousand cuts program offices are feeling. Another component of the MSB is the OCIO. OCIO has layered on requirements to software development that have more than doubled the cost of development, as reported by the OIG in just the past week. This includes huge overhead on the EADIS contract. OCIO has insisted that the CMMI model that is driving costs upwards is designed to reduce risk, however OCIO security has in at least one instance caused the failure of a million dollar software project due to not accepting a software solution used by other components in DHS. These spiraling costs have led to greatly reduced flexibility in the agency the American public expects to be flexible in disaster response. Acquisitions is another component of MSB, and components that are attempting to issue new contracts are forced to run the gauntlet of review board meetings from multiple sources within FEMA, many of which give conflicting guidance. After those hurdles are cleared, the component has to present all over again to DHS boards. While getting contracts right is certainly a priority, the overwhelming majority of these reviews result in no substantive changes to the procurement. Instead, they're merely another bureaucratic obstacle.
As a proposed solution, FEMA needs to seriously re-evaluate exactly what support the Mission Support Bureau is giving. It is far from world class, has increased costs and hindered performance. MSB powers need to be severely curtailed, and the organization needs to remember what the S stands for.