Fema Mission Assignment Task Orders

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IS-293: Mission Assignment Overview

Lesson 1: MA Basics

Mission Assignments

When a hurricane, wildfire, terrorist incident, or other disaster overwhelms the resources of State and local governments, the Federal Government and FEMA can step in to offer resources and assistance.  One method that FEMA uses to provide Federal assistance is the Mission Assignment process, where Federal agencies are tasked to perform response operations. 

Some examples of recent Mission Assignments illustrate the range of work that can be accomplished with this valuable tool. 

In January 2004, Tropical Cyclone Heta battered American Samoa, with high winds and rain that destroyed over 600 homes and damaged 4,000 others.  Through a Mission Assignment issued by FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed generators to provide temporary power to hospitals and other critical facilities. 

After Hurricane Rita in September 2005, FEMA issued Mission Assignments to support affected States in their response, including providing Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to provide medical support to augment existing medical staff.

In May 2007, a tornado with winds up to 205 miles per hour flattened the community of Greensburg, Kansas.  FEMA mission assigned other Federal agencies to clear roads and remove debris caused by the storm and to monitor any immediate health threats.  

During the October 2007 Southern California wildfires, FEMA activated the Department of Defense’s Defense Coordinating Officer through a Mission Assignment to provide technical advice and support to Federal operations. 

In this course, we’ll consider the different types of Mission Assignments, and the process used to request aid, issue Mission Assignments, and conduct the work needed to help a community respond to an incident. 

 

Importance of Mission Assignments in Disaster Response

In a major disaster, the resources and expertise of Federal departments and agencies, including FEMA, are deployed to provide State and local governments with support during the disaster response and recovery process.

A key FEMA responsibility is to work in conjunction with the State in disaster response to identify unmet needs and, when appropriate, to direct or “mission assign” the appropriate agency to fulfill these needs.

FEMA uses the Mission Assignment (MA) as the process to task and reimburse other Federal departments and agencies to provide essential assistance. 

 

Major Events in Disaster Declaration Process

Before learning more about the Mission Assignment process, let’s review the major events in the declaration process.

Event

During this event, the following activities take place:

Incident and Local ResponseLocal government responds to incident and requests State assistance, if needed.
Governor Declares State of Emergency and/or Activates State Emergency PlanThe declaration authorizes use of certain State assets, such as the National Guard, and activates the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
Governor Requests Federal AssistanceThis request certifies that the incident is of such severity and magnitude that State and local resources are inadequate.  Federal assistance supports State and local response and recovery activities. 
President Makes Declaration Decision

The President decides whether to declare that an emergency or a major disaster exists, thereby making Federal assistance available.  One method the Federal Government uses to provide assistance is through Mission Assignments.

A Presidential emergency declaration of an emergency provides assistance that:

  • Is beyond State and local capabilities.
  • Serves as supplementary emergency assistance (debris removal (Public Assistance category A) and emergency protective measures removal (Public Assistance category B)).
  • Does not exceed $5 million of Federal assistance.

The Governor must request a Presidential declaration for an emergency within 5 days of the incident.

A Presidential major disaster declaration provides assistance that:

  • Is beyond State and local capabilities.
  • Supplements available resources of State and local governments, disaster relief organizations, and insurance (all categories under Public Assistance, and Individual Assistance and Hazard Mitigation, as appropriate).

The Governor must request a Presidential declaration for a major disaster within 30 days of the incident.

 

Mission Assignment Definition

A Mission Assignment (MA) is:

An MA is not a grant or contract to another Federal agency.  Rather, an MA is a reimbursable work order for a specific task that can be performed before and/or after a declaration.  MAs are the mechanism for utilizing a Federal agency’s unique resources in life-safety and life-saving activities in disaster response.

 

History of the Mission Assignment

The Federal Government historically has provided funding in the form of a grant to States when they need assistance in times of disaster.  Under a Mission Assignment, the Federal Government instead may provide direct assistance when States are unable to perform needed work, with the Federal Government providing assistance until the State is able to resume the responsibility and complete the work. 

MAs were first used around 1980 in support of FEMA’s Public Assistance Program to acquire the services of experts in Federal agencies.  Before then, these services were acquired and paid for through interagency agreements. 

During Hurricane Andrew in August 1992, the MA issuance, management, and closeout processes were formalized, and the MA process became the accepted approach and system to direct and reimburse Federal agencies for emergency missions.

 

MA Authorities and Guidance

Specific laws, regulations, and policies dictate circumstances when use of MAs is appropriate, and procedures to follow in developing and completing MAs.

Laws, regulations, and policies that govern Mission Assignments include:

  • The Stafford Act (PL-93-288, as amended).
  • Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
  • The National Incident Management System (NIMS).
  • The National Response Framework (NRF).

The Stafford Act (PL-93-288, as amended).
The law that governs disaster assistance, and that authorizes FEMA to task other Federal agencies, with or without reimbursement, to utilize their authorities and resources in support of State and local assistance efforts.

Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

  • Contains regulations for the implementation of disaster assistance programs under the Stafford Act authority. 
  • Defines a Mission Assignment.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS)
A system that integrates existing best practices into a consistent, nationwide approach to domestic incident management that is applicable to all jurisdictional levels and across functional disciplines in an all-hazards context.

The National Response Framework (NRF)
A guide that recognizes and incorporates the various jurisdictional and functional authorities of Federal departments and agencies; State, local, and tribal governments; and private-sector organizations in domestic incident management.

 

MA Issuance Criteria

Criteria considered when issuing MAs involve the type of work to be performed and the particular resources that a Federal agency can provide.

Mission Assignments are issued only for emergency work, not permanent restorative work or long-term studies.  Examples of emergency work include:

  • Debris clearance to allow safe passage of emergency vehicles and debris removal to eliminate health and safety hazards.
  • Providing emergency power to a 600-bed hospital.

The following are typical examples of work completed under an MA:

  • The U.S. Coast Guard is mission assigned to transport search and rescue teams to a disaster area.
  • Following the declaration, the Department of Defense is mission assigned to transport patients from hospitals and nursing homes.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is mission assigned to provide National Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to support State and local efforts.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is mission assigned to provide emergency power to hospitals and other critical facilities.

 

MA Process Overview

The MA process begins with identification of a need for Federal assistance, and proceeds as illustrated below through final payment and closeout.  Subsequent lessons will provide information about each step in the process.

 

Types of MAs

MAs differ according to the recipient of the service and the type of service provided.

The three types of MAs are:

  • Federal Operations Support (FOS)—Requested by a Federal agency to support Federal operations.
  • Technical Assistance (TA)—Expertise provided to State and local jurisdictions when they have the resources but lack the knowledge and skills needed to perform the required activity.
  • Direct Federal Assistance (DFA)—Resources provided to affected State and local jurisdictions when they lack the resources to provide specific types of disaster assistance.  Click on this link for more information on DFA, as detailed in 44 CFR 206.208. 

 

Differences Between MA Types

Compare the differences among the types of Mission Assignments by reviewing the chart below.

TypeDetails

Federal Operations Support (FOS) MA

  • For any type of support to Federal operations
  • Requested by the Federal Government
  • 100% Federally funded
  • Eligible before or after a declaration

Technical Assistance (TA) MA

  • For expert advice to the State
  • Requested by the State
  • 100% Federally funded
  • Eligible after declaration

Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) MA

  • For resources beyond the State’s capability to provide or contract for
  • Requested by the State
  • Subject to cost share provisions—normally 75% Federal share, 25% State share
  • Eligible after a declaration

 

Roles of Key Staff in the MA Process

Once an MA is developed and approved, using that MA to meet resource needs involves various personnel performing specific functions.

The functions performed by key personnel as part of the MA process include:

  • Developing and approving the MA at the Federal level, and approving the MA at the State level when applicable.
  • Processing the MA within FEMA.
  • Supervising delivery of goods and/or completion of services.
  • Overseeing financial aspects of the MA.

 

FEMA’s MA Processing Personnel

FEMA personnel involved in the development and processing of MAs include the Action Tracker, the MA Specialist, and the MA Manager.

The Action Tracker's role is to enter all Action Request Forms or ARF’s into an ARF tracking log to ensure no request is lost or misplaced.  All ARF forms are then given to the Ops Section Chief for their approval and sourcing determination.  The Action Tracker's second major responsibility is to document the disposition of all Action Request Forms.  This enables the requester to know exactly how their particular request was met. 

The MA Specialist is responsible for taking the information generated on the Action Request Forms and inputting that information into e-CAPS which is the electronic database where Mission Assignments are kept.  As part of that process, we identify the assistance requested, the Statement of Work, all of the contact information, the start date, the end date, and who is required to sign off on the approval from the MA Manager to the Federal Approving Official.

The MA Manager coordinates Mission Assignments from issuance and execution to close-out. This process begins with the receipt of an approved Action Request Form from the Operations Section.

 

MA Approval

The official with the authority to approve an MA is the Federal Approving Official (FAO), a FEMA employee.  Technical Assistance and Direct Federal Assistance missions also require approval by the State Approving Official (SAO).

FAO is delegated authority to authorize expenditure of Federal funds. The SAO is delegated authority to authorize and obligate the State for the appropriate cost-share.

Different personnel may fill the FAO role, because the FAO is a function as opposed to a position.

 

Federal Approving Officials

Individuals generally delegated FAO signature authority for MAs include the following personnel:

  • The applicable Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) Director
  • The National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) Manager
  • The Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) at the Joint Field Office
  • Operations Section Chiefs at each location active in the response

Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCCs) are 24/7 coordination centers that expand to become an interagency facility in anticipation of a serious incident in the region or immediately following an incident.  RRCCs coordinate regional response efforts, and maintain connectivity with other Federal and State operations and coordination centers that have potential to contribute to development of situational awareness. 

The National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) is FEMA’s primary operations center responsible for national incident response and recovery as well as national resource coordination.  As a 24/7 operations center, the NRCC monitors potential or developing incidents and supports the efforts of regional and field components.  The NRCC provides overall incident management coordination, conducts operational planning, deploys national-level entities, and collects and disseminates incident information as it builds and maintains a common operating picture. 

The Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) is a senior FEMA official appointed by the President to coordinate Federal support at the Joint Field Office (JFO).

In the Incident Command System (ICS), the Operations Section is responsible for all tactical incident operations and implementation of the Incident Action Plan.  Under the direction of the Operations Section Chief, the Operations Section may include subordinate Branches, Divisions, and/or Groups.

 

Accountability for Mission Assignments:  Within FEMA

Within FEMA, the person responsible for project oversight for a particular Mission Assignment is FEMA’s Project Manager (PM)

When a PM is assigned a Mission Assignment, their primary role is to work with the other Federal agency that has been assigned that mission and ensure that their performance of duties are within the scope of work.  One of the things that they do is monitor all of the monies that are expended against the Mission Assignment; they also monitor the scope of work and the level of work that is performed. 

 

Accountability for Mission Assignments: Within the OFA

Within the OFA, the person accountable for a particular Mission Assignment is the other Federal agency’s Action Officer (AO)

Action Officers work with the FEMA project managers to strategize on how to meet the needs that they have, scope the meeting, the Mission Assignment out as well as the cost and then once the Mission Assignment is given, to execute that and document it.

 

MA Process Roles:  Legal Review

There are many other key players who support the Mission Assignment process.  Legal review is critical to the process to ensure that FEMA and OFAs act within their legal authorities and according to regulations that govern MAs.

FEMA’s Office of Chief Counsel (OCC) can help:

  • Evaluate the legality of an MA if it is in question.
  • Address liabilities and injuries as a result of MA issuance.

Examples of legal issues with MAs include:

  • Questions about whether a request falls under an agency’s own authority, such as whether MAs are required for
    • The EPA to clean up a chemical hazard created as a result of a natural disaster.
    • The U.S. Coast Guard to conduct inland search and rescue operations.
    • The U.S. Geological Survey to document high water marks after flooding.
  • Disputes over damages to leased equipment while performing work under an MA tasking.
  • Issuance of MAs directly to support agencies, instead of to primary agencies.

 

MA Process Roles:  Financial Review

Financial review is an important safeguard for ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being spent properly to meet urgent disaster needs.  The financial accounting team includes: 

  • FEMA Comptroller—Serves as senior financial advisor to the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO).
  • FEMA Regional and Headquarters Finance Specialists—Serve as financial advisors to Regional and Headquarters MA staffs and perform financial closeout functions. 
  • FEMA Finance Center (FFC) staff—Review OFA requests for reimbursement, perform MA reimbursement, and help with financial closeout functions.
  • OFA Finance Specialists—Ensure that OFA requests for reimbursement are prepared and submitted as required.  Coordinate with the FFC staff to ensure documents are received and billing is complete.

 

MA Process Roles:  Logistics

Disaster response would not succeed without a dedicated logistics team to store, maintain, and distribute commodities to response personnel and communities in need.  Those working under a Mission Assignment are likely to interface with the following logistics personnel:

  • The FEMA Logistics Section Chief is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing logistics operations support for all aspects of response and/or recovery operations, including those directed under an MA. 
  • The Accountable Property Officer (APO) is accountable for personal property assets purchased under the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF).

    FEMA receives an appropriation each year for the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF).  Congress passes supplemental authorizations to augment the fund as necessary, to ensure funding for Federal support during disasters is sufficient.  FEMA assistance for specific disasters or preparations in the days immediately before a disaster is paid for with the DRF surge account.

  • The Ordering Unit is the single point for ordering, and the Ordering Unit Leader tracks ordering through an internal ordering and tracking system.

 

Lesson 2: MA Request Process

Requesting Assistance From Other States

When a State has determined that additional assistance is required, the State may turn to other States for aid through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a national emergency management mutual aid State-to-State compact. 

EMAC is a congressionally ratified organization that facilitates interstate mutual aid.  Through EMAC, a disaster-impacted State can request and receive assistance from other member States.

 

Identifying the Need for Federal Assistance

When the State has determined that intrastate or interstate resources are insufficient, the State may turn to the Federal Government for assistance.  Remember, the need for Federal assistance exists when an incident is of such severity and magnitude that State and local resources are inadequate. 

This lesson will focus on steps 2 and 3 of the assistance process, once the need for Federal assistance has been identified.

 

Step 2:  Submit Request to FEMA

A variety of sources may identify needs for Federal assistance.  The Action Request Form (ARF) is the FEMA form that States, tribes, Federal agencies, and FEMA staff use for requesting Federal assistance. 

When submitting a request, States (or other requesters) complete Sections I (Requesting Assistance) and II (Requested Assistance) on the ARF. 

 

Completing ARF Sections I and II

When completing Sections I and II of the Action Request Form, the requestor answers the following questions:

  • Who is requesting assistance?
  • What organization do they represent?
  • What assistance do they need?
  • How much do they need?
  • How long do they need it?
  • What is the priority?  (life saving, life sustaining, high)
  • Where do they need it to be delivered?
  • When do they need it?
  • Who does it get delivered to and what is their contact information?

In addition, if the request is from the State, the ARF must be signed by the delegated State Approving Official. 

 

Where Do States Submit Requests for Assistance?

Requestors seeking Federal assistance submit the completed ARF to the FEMA Operations Section.

Upon receiving the ARF, the Action Tracker (AT) or MA Manager:

  • Logs in the ARF.
  • Forwards the ARF to the Operations Section Chief for review and for a sourcing decision in coordination with Logistics.

 

Step 3:  Evaluate Request and Determine Action

Once an ARF is received and logged in, the next step is for the Operations Section Chief to determine how to respond to the request for Federal assistance. 

Resources to support Federal operations are identified by the Operations Section Chief in consultation with the Logistics Section.

 

Operations Section Chief Review

The Operations Section Chief reviews the ARF to determine if:

  • Sections I and II on the ARF are complete and the requested action is clearly identified.
  • The requested action is eligible under the Stafford Act. 
  • The request should be filled with internal FEMA resources, through procurement, or via an MA.
  • The request is beyond State and local capabilities (not applicable to Federal-to-Federal support).
  • The request does not fall within the statutory authority of another Federal department or agency.
  • The requested action provides temporary, not permanent or restorative, work (Direct Federal Assistance only).

Having considered these various factors, the Operations Section Chief then decides the best course of action regarding the request for assistance.

 

Potential Outcomes of ARF Review

An ARF may not always result in a Mission Assignment. 

Review of the ARF by the Operations Section Chief may result in the request being:

  • Rejected.
  • Filled through OFA statutory authority.
  • Filled by FEMA Logistics with existing resources or procured with disaster funds.
  • Filled through Public Assistance grants or other assistance programs.
  • Filled through an MA.

 

Completing ARF Section III

The Operations Section Chief determines the source for the request. At this time, ARF Section III:  Sourcing the Request gets completed.

The ARF is returned to the Action Tracker to update the Action Tracker (AT) Log.

From this point forward, we will focus on situations where the Operations Section Chief has determined that an MA is the best course of action for meeting the assistance needs.

 

Assigning Accountability for MA Project Oversight

Once it is determined that a request is best filled through an MA, the Operations Section Chief appoints a FEMA Project Manager (PM), usually an Operations Branch Director.

For example:

  • A debris clearance MA would be assigned to the Infrastructure Branch Director for debris management.
  • An MA for National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) team capabilities would be assigned to the Emergency Services Branch Director for Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) or Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team (DMORT).

The assigned Federal agency appoints an Action Officer (AO) who is responsible for the management of the project.

 

Preparing for MA Issuance and Execution

FEMA’s Project Manager and the OFA’s Action Officer meet to: 

  • Determine how the task will be accomplished.
  • Prepare the Statement of Work (SOW) needed to accomplish the task.
  • Develop a period of performance and cost estimate. 

 

Determining the Period of Performance and Cost Estimate

Under 44 CFR, the period of performance time limit for the completion of a DFA Mission Assignment is 60 days after the date of declaration.  Based on extenuating circumstances, FEMA may extend the 60-day limit.

In addition to determining the period of performance, developing an MA involves estimating the cost involved.  Building a good cost estimate is based on knowing eligible and ineligible costs.

 

Pre-Scripted Mission Assignments

To expedite the delivery of Federal assistance, FEMA is working with Federal Departments and Agencies to jointly develop Pre-Scripted Mission Assignment (PSMA) language. PSMAs provide standard "statements of work" and cost estimates for work typically performed by a Federal agency in support of Stafford Act requirements and may be used as a starting point in an action event. PSMA is not an MA.

The PSMA is intended to avoid "reinventing the wheel" for each event and encourages "thinking ahead." However, not all MAs will have pre-scripted language, and those that do may still be modified to meet event-specific needs. As general guidance, PSMAs are created for capabilities that are outside of a department or agency's regular or emergency authority, which involve a known or frequently used resource that could be useful during an incident.

 

PSMA Language

Using PSMA language does not preclude using the FEMA ARF. In fact, PSMA language may be used to develop the statement of work in the ARF and the MA.

Having PSMA language for a specific task does not mean an MA for that work will "automatically" be issued. The decision to issue an MA is at the discretion of a Federal Approving Official (FAO), such as the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) Leader, the Regional Response Coordination Center (RRCC) Leader, the FCO or their respective designees.

 

CompletingARF Section IV:  Statement of Work

FEMA’s Project Manager and the OFA Action Officer detail the Statement of Work (SOW), using Section IV of the ARF.

The SOW should be specific enough to identify the task, but general enough to allow the assigned agency flexibility to accomplish the task.

Some MAs may require a broad SOW, in cases where several requests are received from the State for the same commodity in multiple locations or in cases where specific details on the mission are unavailable.  For example, the U.S. Coast Guard may be tasked to move commodities, with details on locations provided later.

 

Completing ARF Section V:  Action Taken

Once the SOW and cost estimate are complete, the entire ARF is subject to a final review by the Operations Section Chief for approval or denial.  The reason for a denial is documented on the ARF.

If approved by the Operations Section Chief, information from the ARF is entered into the Enterprise Coordination and Approval Processing System (eCAPS) to generate the MA Form. 

 

Lesson 3: MA Issuance and Execution

Progressing in the MA Process

In the previous lesson, we reviewed requests for assistance and the decision process that can lead to using a Mission Assignment to provide Federal assistance.  In this lesson, we’ll look at MA issuance and execution.

 

Issuing the MA and Obligating Funds

If approved by the Operations Section Chief for content, information from the ARF is entered into the Enterprise Coordination and Approval Processing System (eCAPS) to generate the MA.  The MA is signed electronically by the:

  • MA Manager.
  • FEMA Project Manager.
  • State Approving Official (SAO)—for Technical Assistance and Direct Federal Assistance MAs.
  • Federal Approving Official (FAO) (e.g., the Federal Coordinating Officer or delegated designee).

These electronic signatures represent a delegation of authority and are password protected.

After the FAO signs the form, the MA amount is entered as an obligation in FEMA’s financial system by the Comptroller, who forwards a copy of the obligated MA to the MA Manager.

The MA Manager provides a copy of the approved and obligated MA to the OFA Action Officer. 

 

MA Execution

In execution of the MA, the assigned agency may:

  • Direct personnel to perform the work and/or travel to disaster sites or FEMA facilities.
  • Use agency equipment and facilities.
  • Procure goods and services, with prior approval of the FEMA Project Manager.

It is critical that the assigned agency record and track such data as overtime for assigned individuals, travel costs, rental costs, and items purchased for reimbursement purposes.  

 

MA Task Orders

In addition to issuing Mission Assignments, the Operations Section Chief determines a request falls within the Statement of Work (SOW) of an existing MA.  That request then results in the development of an MA Task Order by the FEMA Project Manager and OFA Action Officer.  The FEMA Project Manager is responsible for tracking MA Task Orders.  MA Task Orders are generally used to provide specifics for a broad SOW (e.g., delivery sites for water). 

MA Task Orders prevent the issuance of multiple MAs for the same statement of work.  A Task Order will be prepared to direct specific activities within the scope of a Mission Assignment.  Task Orders may include personnel, resource movement, and locations for delivery and duty stations. 

 

MA Subtasks

The Emergency Support Function (ESF) primary agency tasked with an MA may subtask supporting Federal agencies if the primary agency determines they need additional support.  Funding for subtasks comes from the primary agency’s Mission Assignment.

The primary agency:

  • Subtasks a support agency directly.  As a support agency for other emergency functions, agencies may receive subtasks.
  • Documents the agency subtasking on a Mission Assignment Subtasking Request Form or other documentation.
  • Provides a copy to the MA Manager.

Primary and Support Agencies

The Federal Government groups most of its resources and capabilities, and those of certain private-sector and nongovernmental organizations, under 15 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs).  (Note that MAs cannot be issued to private or nongovernmental organizations, only to Federal agencies.)  ESFs align categories of resources and provide strategic objectives for their use.  The National Response Framework identifies primaryagencies on the basis of authorities and resources.  Support agencies are assigned based on the availability of resources in a given functional area. 

Each ESF has a primary agency designated as responsible for completing that ESF’s mission when the agency is activated in an incident.  The primary agency is responsible for providing Federal assistance as requested in the affected State.  That assistance involves providing resources, in the form of goods and services, as requested and needed to respond to an incident.

Primary agencies notify and request assistance from support agencies, as appropriate, in carrying out the ESF mission.  Primary agencies manage their Mission Assignments, and subtasks when applicable, as part of their role in providing Federal assistance.

 

Contents of an MA Subtasking Request

The Subtasking Request form includes:

  • The primary agency MA number.
  • A Statement of Work to the support agency that stays within the same guidelines as the SOW on the referenced MA.
  • A not-to-exceed cost estimate from the primary agency to the subtasked agency. 
  • Signatures and contact information of the point of contact (POC) for both the primary and support agencies.

 

Documentation: Voices of Experience

The Federal agency tasked under the MA must maintain accurate documentation of all expenditures.

"Under a Mission Assignment we will get various orders that we are asked to fulfill, they will give us quantities, they’ll give us locations, they’ll tell us specifically what we’re trying to do and in doing and carrying out those orders we will look at documentation — when the product gets there, how much was received so that we can pay the contractor, ensure that the scope of the mission was actually accomplished, that we got the product where they wanted it, when they wanted it and it is also the mechanism not only to pay the contractor but also to be a document for the auditors after the fact."

 

Monitoring Costs Against Authorized Funding

Agencies cannot spend more than the authorized amount in an MA.  Continual monitoring of expenditures in relation to approved funding throughout the term of the MA is essential.

When an OFA providing assistance is approaching approximately 75% of the MA-authorized funding, the OFA Action Officer should notify the FEMA Project Manager to make a request and justification for additional funding. 

Similarly, OFAs should identify and report excess funds to FEMA to be returned to the Disaster Relief Fund.  Performing agencies have financial stewardship responsibilities, as does FEMA, and they should reduce excess funding.

 

MA Amendments

In the execution of the MA, it may be necessary to amend the original MA.  MAs must be amended for changes in:

  • Funding.
  • Time requirements.
  • FEMA Project Manager. 
  • State cost share

Note that an MA can never be amended for a change in the Statement of Work.  Changes to the SOW require a new Mission Assignment.

MA amendments require submission of an Action Request Form (ARF).

 

MA Tracking and Monitoring:  Voices of Experience

Operations Section Chief

The role of the Operations Section Chief in tracking and monitoring Mission Assignments focuses on the big picture, to ensure agencies are mission assigned to carry out response activities providing necessary support to affected States.  I rely on the entire Operations Section to work as a team, to track the various related Mission Assignment components.  All members of the section including the Action Tracker, the MA Manager, the Operations Branch directors who work as Project Managers, and the other Federal agencies and their Action Officers each perform a set of critical actions.  Each of these positions has a unique perspective on the process and provides ongoing reports and updates.  I use this information to ensure we remain on task and focused in providing support to the affected State. 

FEMA Project Manager

In my position I have the most oversight for the work to be performed.  In partnership with the other Federal agency Action Officer I ensure that the work is proceeding according to the statement of work and that funding remains adequate to complete the assignment.  For example, site visits may be necessary in order to maintain current situational awareness.  I coordinate with the Operations Section Chief and the other Federal agency Action Officer to resolve any issues that may arise.

MA Manager

I coordinate with the Operations Section Chief, other Federal agencies, Project Managers, and financial staff to ensure that Mission Assignments are tracked accurately and that the Operations Section Chief is provided the status of all Mission Assignments that have been issued.

I continue working closely with the other Federal agencies to make sure that they are aware of Mission Assignment guidance, funding status, and time limitations.

OFA Action Officer

The Mission Assignment tells us the scope, time, dollar amount.  Our job is to monitor all three of them.  In doing so, we make sure that the scope is adhered to, and that we execute what we’re trying to do.  We keep cumulative track of the money to make sure that we don’t go over the budget, and if there is anything that we need to address, we go right back to the Project Manager.

Logistics Section Chief

The logistics section has a property accountability responsibility and after a Mission Assignment is closed and that agency is returning to its base or wherever it came from they generally have a lot of resources left over that they are not going to keep and then it is the role and responsibility of the logistics section to either determine whether it can be used in FEMA or then if not appropriately disposed.

Finance/Admin Section Chief

One of the things that I do as the Finance and Admin Section Chief is to ensure that the correct accounting code is assigned to the mission assignments. We also have to make sure that we are using the correct object class and we use three in particular. It is important that each object class is appropriate for the disaster or incident. Another responsibility is to ensure that there is adequate funding to support Mission Assignments that are in process. Once this review process is completed the next step is to approve and certify the Mission Assignments.

 

Approaching MA Completion

As the assigned Federal agency is approaching completion of the work specified in the Statement of Work, the OFA Action Officer should arrange a meeting with the requestor, the FEMA Project Manager, and the Operations Section Chief to:

  • Discuss issues regarding the completion of the work.
  • Ensure the work has been completed in a satisfactory manner.

When all parties agree that work tasked under the MA has been completed satisfactorily, staff are released from the assignment, as described on the next section.

 

Staff Stand-Down and Deactivation

When all MA work is complete, assigned OFA staff may be released either in a stand-down or deactivation.  OFA staff transition back to their agency Regional or Headquarters office, and FEMA field staff transition all records pertaining to MAs to Regional Office staff.

Note:  DOD personnel do not stand down.  They are either activated or deactivated.

 

Lesson 4: MA Billing, Reimbursement, and Closeout

Progressing in the MA Process

In the previous lesson, we covered MA issuance and execution.  In this lesson, we’ll look at billing and reimbursement for MAs, and closeout of MAs once they are completed.

 

Billing and Reimbursement Process Overview

The main steps in the MA billing, reimbursement, and closeout process appear below.  The next screens cover each step individually.

 

Reviewing Subtasked Agency Bills

If a primary agency subtasks another agency to perform work under their MA, the primary agency is responsible for billing FEMA for the costs incurred by the subtasked agency.  Therefore, subtasked agencies must submit their bills to the primary agency for review and submission to FEMA.

When submitting bills to the primary agency for reimbursement, a subtasked agency must include:

  • Breakdowns of costs by sub-object class code to the primary agency for reimbursement.
  • Appropriate documentation.

The primary agency reviews the support agency's cost breakdowns and documentation before submitting the bill to FEMA for reimbursement.

 

Submitting Bills

Agencies should use the Department of the Treasury’s Intra-Governmental Payment and Collection (IPAC) system.  This system allows billing agencies to electronically take funds from FEMA’s appropriation for actual costs incurred.

Agencies using IPAC for reimbursement of Mission Assignment expenditures must submit cost summary documentation to the FEMA Finance Center (FFC) simultaneously.

Timeliness is critical.  If an agency does not properly identify and support its costs, FEMA is unable to accurately or quickly record these amounts as an expense in its financial system.  Any agency that routinely collects funds from the Disaster Relief Fund without supporting or identifying the charges will be subject to chargeback within 10 business days in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget’s interagency business rules.

 

Billing for Multiple Mission Assignments

An agency may receive multiple Mission Assignments in the course of disaster operations.  Each MA must be treated separately for billing purposes.

Guidelines for billing multiple MAs include the following:

  • A separate bill must be presented for each MA.
  • One MA, including any amendments, can have one or more bills.
  • Bills should be marked “Partial” or “Final” as applicable.

 

MA Reimbursable Costs

Costs that may be reimbursed under an MA include those for overtime, travel and per diem, private-sector contracts, and other costs defined by 44 CFR. 

To be eligible for reimbursement, expenditures must be:

  • Necessary and reasonable to accomplish the mission.
  • Authorized.
  • Not funded by another source.
  • Incurred in accordance with law, regulation, policy, and procedures.
  • Adequately supported/documented.

 

Nonreimbursable MA Costs

It is important that primary and subtasked agencies are aware of potential MA costs that cannot be reimbursed before they incur such costs.  MA costs that are not reimbursable include the following: 

  • Work performed by an agency under its own authority.
  • Excessive or unreasonable costs.
  • Unsupported claims.
  • Amounts exceeding authorized funding.
  • Indirect costs not approved by FEMA.
  • Litigation costs, settlements, and judgments.
  • Costs already funded by another source (appropriation).
  • Regular salaries, benefits, and associated indirect costs for employees funded by an agency’s appropriation.
  • Estimated or advanced costs.
  • Unauthorized purchases or leases.

 

Supporting Documentation

When submitting bills, the necessary supporting documentation includes:

  • Breakdown of charges by sub-object class.
  • Breakdown of overhead charges.
  • Itemized equipment and contract costs with names of contractors and vendors listed.
  • Specific cost category being charged (such as travel, labor, etc.).
  • Descriptions of purchases.
  • For property—item type and current disposition, to include any type of agreement for the agency to keep property, if applicable.  For capital assets (>$50,000), a serial number must be provided if the agency is requesting reimbursement from FEMA.

If the appropriate documentation is not submitted, the FFC can charge back the funds.  FEMA may also reject a transaction if requests for information are not answered. 

 

CapitalAssets, Accountable Property, and Sensitive Items

Capital assets are items that cost at least $50,000, have a unique serial number, and are reported in the agency’s financial statements.  Examples include generators, vehicles, and dialysis machines. 

Accountable property items are those that do not meet the capital asset threshold but which are reportable to FEMA Logistics and must be approved for reimbursement.  Examples include trailers, all-terrain vehicles, chainsaws, televisions, and office furniture. 

Sensitive items are those items that are “easily stolen.”  Examples include computers, USB flash devices, cell phones, audio or visual equipment, and office equipment.

All nonexpendable property items purchased under an MA must be coordinated with Operations and Logistics according to the following guidelines: 

  • When an item is received through FEMA Logistics, that item must be returned to FEMA Logistics. 
  • When nonexpendable property is purchased under an MA, the OFA owns and is responsible for the property. 
  • When the OFA requests reimbursement, FEMA must take possession of the nonexpendable property, in the absence of another agreement.  In such instances, such agreements should be preapproved, so the FEMA Project Manager is aware of the charges to be billed to FEMA.

The overall goal is to ensure needs are communicated up front, agreed to, and documented—to avoid disagreements later that will affect billing.

 

When Property Is Lost or Stolen

Sometimes property purchased as part of an MA gets lost, stolen, or damaged.  In the event of lost or stolen property, or for property requiring repair or replacement, FEMA may reimburse an OFA. 

The OFA must complete FEMA Form 61-10, Government Property Lost or Damaged (GPLD) Survey Certificate, for reimbursement of damaged, lost, or stolen property.

 

Voices of Experience

FFC Staff Member

The FEMA Finance Center is a central financial processing facility for FEMA. We process all of FEMA’s financial transactions including all those for Mission Assignment bills.  Other Federal agencies go through Treasury’s IPAC system which is Intergovernmental Payment and Collection which is similar to an EFT where another Federal agency can go into FEMA’s Treasury account and collect funds for their costs that they’ve incurred under a Mission Assignment.  FEMA Finance Center reviews these expenses, posts them in IFMIS which is our financial management system as an expense which draws down the Mission Assignment obligation.

MA Manager

The FEMA Finance Center forwards bills from the other Federal agencies to me for processing.  I conduct a programmatic review of the bills, recommend payment or non-payment, and coordinate the reviews and approvals from the Project Manager and Federal Approving Official. 

FAO

My responsibility is to authorize the spending of Federal dollars to accomplish a mission that is, that has been worked by the Mission Assignment Manager in coordination with the State and Operations Section Chief for the JFO.

 

When the Bill Has Been Approved

Once the MA bill has been approved by the Project Manager and the Federal Approving Official, the MA Manager:

  • Updates the MA billing log.
  • Keeps a copy of the bill(s) and the MA Reimbursement Request Transmittal Form.
  • Prepares an MA amendment to deobligate funds if necessary.
  • Sends the bill package to the FFC to include the original MA Reimbursement Request Transmittal Form with copies of any new supporting documentation. 

 

Processing MA Progress Reports

FEMA must identify and deobligate excess funds in a timely manner to return funds to the Disaster Relief Fund for future use.  To help identify any needed changes in funding, the OFA is required to submit quarterly Financial Progress Reports if the Mission Assignment is expected to take longer than 60 days to complete, including submission of a final bill.

In order for FEMA to effectively manage disaster funds, agencies need to:

  • Bill FEMA in a timely manner.
  • Submit progress reports to document both the work and financial progress. 
  • Identify final bills.
  • Provide financial reports quarterly to the FFC on MA accruals so FEMA can accurately report to Treasury in conjunction with the assigned agencies.

 

Processing MA Closeout

The FEMA Project Manager reports the status of MAs to the MA Manager.  When work is completed, the MA Manager and PM verify completion of work while the FFC assists in the verification of financial status (reconciling expenditures).

If no bill marked “final” is received within 90 days of completion of work under an MA, the MA Manager sends notification to the OFA of FEMA’s intent to close the MA within 60 days.

If no response is received in 60 days, the MA Manager sends a letter stating that FEMA will deobligate the remaining funds if the agency does not respond within the remaining 30 days.

FEMA sends the OFA a copy of the amendment to close the MA and a letter stating the MA is closed.

 

Voices of Experience

FFC Staff Member

The FEMA Finance Center’s role in Mission Assignment closeout is to assist the Mission Assignment manger in financially reconciling Mission Assignments meaning that we want to make sure that all of the bills that the other Federal agency has submitted have been paid and that our balance matches with what the other Federal agency shows in their system.  Some of the tools we use to assist in that is we publish an un-liquidated obligation report that goes out on a quarterly basis to the Mission Assignment managers in the region as well as also to our financial counterparts at the other Federal agencies so that they can also communicate back to us if there are any excess funds that they can de-obligate.

MA Manager

When I receive the final bill, I proceed with the close-out process, which includes a final review, coordination with other FEMA and State staff for approval, and de-obligation of excess funds.

 

MA Closeout:  OFA Responsibilities

During closeout of a Mission Assignment, the OFA is the one who:

  • Works with the FEMA Project Manager to ensure the work is completed in accordance with the approved Statement of Work, costs, and time limitations.
  • Submits quarterly Financial Progress Reports.  Agencies may submit reports via FEMA’s web site.
  • Within 90 days of physical completion of work, identifies “final” bills and submits them to the FFC stating that no further work will be requested.
  • Works with the MA Manager and FFC to reconcile files/records to ensure all bills have been submitted and paid.

 

Billing theState for the Cost Share

The non-Federal cost share of Direct Federal Assistance (DFA) Mission Assignment expenditures is billable to the State.

In preparing to bill the State, the FFC prepares a “draft” billing package to include:

  • Copies of DFA Mission Assignments.
  • Declaration documentation.
  • Basis for calculation.

The Region/Headquarters reviews and approves the “draft” bill package.  After approval, FEMA’s FFC (Accounts Receivable) sends a bill for collection to the State for the non-Federal share of DFA missions. 

 

After Closeout, Then What Happens?

FEMA sends the OFA a copy of the amendment to close the MA and a letter stating the MA is closed.  All Mission Assignments will be deobligated during the FFC annual unliquidated obligation (ULO) validation process unless the OFA validates the ULO balance by providing cost data.

Federal agencies must keep supporting documentation for 6 years and 3 months after MA closeout, beginning with payment of the final bill.

 

Reviewing the MA Process

This course provided an overview of the entire Mission Assignment process, from the initial identification of the need for Federal assistance through the final closeout of the MA.

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