Agency Emergency Evacuation Plans Pass Muster -- Mostly

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., requested a report. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., requested a report. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Emergency federal employee evacuation plans during such events as a shooting or a natural disaster appear on the whole to be solid and up-to-date, auditors found, though a few agencies reported glitches during practice drills.

Compiled in the course of a year before last month’s deadly shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, Government Accountability Office interviews with 20 agencies found that 13 of the agencies had emergency plans that included all 10 of the components identified as essential in 2010 by the Homeland Security Department-led Interagency Security Committee.

All 20 agencies had designated emergency-response officials, 19 had reviewed their emergency plans annually and 14 had incorporated Federal Protective Service and General Services Administration feedback on the plans.

“The lack of an element does not necessarily indicate potential vulnerabilities for that facility because the intent of the element may be addressed by other procedures or modified based on facility characteristics,” GAO said in a report requested by Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency.

Chief obstacles to an effective emergency plan identified by 14 of the agencies interviewed were, in order: employee apathy, managers’ real-time knowledge of which employees are present and up-to-date employee contact information.

The apathy was described as “employees not participating in or responding quickly to drills; not wanting to stop working or leave the building; [and] not reporting to the assembly area (e.g., going for a coffee break during an evacuation,” GAO wrote. The challenge of knowing each employee’s whereabouts is made easier through information technology but more difficult by telecommuting, some respondents noted, and by a reliance in some cases “on tenants to provide notice of personnel changes.”

In one evacuation drill, the report said, “it was discovered that the path to the evacuation assembly area was up a steep slope and that some of the employees could not make the climb. The assembly area was subsequently changed.”

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.