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Fema Mission Assignment Process Technology

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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.

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