The once-ridiculed Federal Emergency Management Agency has
transformed itself into an organization worthy of imitation, according
to a report due to be released this week.
Jerry Ellig, a senior research fellow at George Mason University's
Mercatus Center, wrote the report as part of the center's public sector
leadership project. The project shines a light on successful federal
agencies in order to glean lessons on performance improvement. The
Mercatus Center works with government leaders and scholars to help put
academic theory into practice.
"Lawmakers who once talked of abolishing the agency now
compliment it," Ellig writes of FEMA in the report. The agency has
reinvented itself through major management reforms since 1993. The kinds
of changes FEMA went through are applicable to "an agency seeking
to transform itself from a rules-driven bureaucracy to a results-driven
organization," the report said.
According to the report, FEMA deserves credit for establishing a
clear mission and setting up an organizational structure that helps meet
In addition, the agency's information technology systems have been
redesigned to be more customer-focused and FEMA has developed
communication strategies for each of its stakeholders, including
disaster victims, the agency's own employees, Congress and the media.
Ellig credits FEMA Director James Lee Witt for driving the agency's
change. Under Witt's leadership, FEMA's culture has become more
customer- and results-oriented, and less formal. As a result, FEMA's
employees have more intrinsic motivation than financial incentives, the
The report will be released Wednesday during a live Internet
broadcast at www.mercatus.org,
beginning at 9:20 a.m.