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IT improvements key to disaster response

The federal government must improve its use of information technology on many fronts to improve disaster response and recovery, DHS' IG told Senate committees.
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Written by ZDNet UK on

The federal government must improve its use of information technology on many fronts to improve disaster response and recovery, Richard Skinner, inspector general at the Homeland Security Department, told a joint Senate hearing yesterday, Federal Computer Week reports.

“Information management is a recurring problem that requires a long-term solution,” Skinner said. The IG office suggested building a common information management system to integrate and disseminate disaster information. The information would include incident reports, contact information, duty logs and resources.

The lack of interoperable communications equipment stymied much of the response effort, Skinner said. His office will soon release a new report, “A Review of DHS’ Progress in Adopting and Enforcement Equipment Standards for First Responders,” which found that DHS had still not adopted any standards for interoperable communications equipment as of this month.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency still does not use available technology and data sources to verify property losses, Skinner said. FEMA lacks safeguards against fraud and capabilities to improve service delivery, he said. It should also create an automated system that pulls out needed management information and statistics from federal and state operations reports.

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