Updated: Jul 29, 2021
FEMA is just like any commercial business. FEMA has their own language. We’ve all been there. Starting a new job and attending new employee orientation. The moderator gives the overview of the company and uses their terminology. You know what they are talking about because you are a professional, familiar with the industry. The importance here is you learn how your new team refers to items. Academically this is the “Norming” phase of team building. Normalizing behaviors and terminology so everyone is using the same words, meaning the same thing. The military has a tradition to not use any acronyms in the first year. Stop and think about that…how many acronyms does the military use!! That’s tough but critical. It forces new members of the team to learn what the “short hand” terminology means. FEMA has their own language.
FEMA is the same way. As a Federal Agency, they spend a lot of money. $12.7 billion classified under disaster relief (LINK). As a Federal Agency, FEMA also has requirements to work with small businesses. In a practical sense, that means more people doing work. That’s a lot of people from many different companies who all need to “Norm” and use the same terminology. Oh yeah, and FEMA does their work after bad things have happened. So, it is slightly important for everyone to know how to get around while responding to a natural disaster!
How do they address this challenge? Through training and certifications. This is basically the FEMA new employee orientation. Through their training, you learn how FEMA will set up during a disaster response. Who is in charge and which teams are responsible for what type of actions. They respond to numerous events. Over 1,000 major disasters in 2020 alone there were. There is no time to have an orientation for each event. The expectation when you are on contract with FEMA is you can hit the ground running. Trained prior to response contract award. The contracting officers need to ensure the most productive, efficient companies will be responding with the Federal teams. And oh by the way...THEY'RE FREE!!
Completing the training and certifications does not require a lot of time or existing knowledge. Well laid out and logical training. Computer based and focused on making sure you understand. Set up for success in government contracting. The challenge is knowing which certification and training is required for the type of work you will be doing and when you need to complete. When a natural disaster is on the way is not the time. When you bid on the contract is not the time. Plan ahead and be prepared. Complete the training and certifications in advance and be ready!! Andy Bennett, Tampa, Florida.