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.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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