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FEMA to Improve Disaster Recovery with Enhanced Customer Service Focus

The agency says a new version of DisasterAssistance.gov will be much easier to use.

Disaster recovery is already centered on providing survivors with what they need, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to make it even more customer focused moving forward.

FEMA is in the process of revamping DisasterAssistance.gov using the feedback gathered from survivors, Federal News Radio reports. The goal is to make the new site considerably easier to navigate:

On the current site, survivors who in live in Florida, for example, and get hit by multiple hurricanes in one season, must enter their personal information on DisasterAssistance.gov for each major storm.

Karole Johns, the agency’s deputy director of the Recovery Technologies Program division, told Federal News Radio that this process is “completely backward” from a customer service angle. By contrast, the new version of the website will be far more efficient. “As we re-engineer, the survivor will be at the center of our process,” she said. “The first time you come to DisasterAssistance.gov, we’re going to take you through a questionnaire, where we’re going to funnel down your needs.”

This more proactive approach to aiding those who’ve been through disasters is a feature of FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Improvement program. The program was established in 2007 after the fallout from FEMA’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Part of its mission is to give users one clear destination for everything.

As Johns explained to Federal News Radio: “We’re trying to group everything — all the questions that we ask around needs that they can communicate to us — so they don’t have to worry about, am I registering with FEMA, am I registering with FBA, who am I registering with. They know they’re registering with housing assistance. They know they’re registering for medical assistance.”

Smaller federal agencies are already using the cloud to help with disaster recovery. As a large agency, FEMA is showing that through its embrace of technology to improve its customer service, it understands that modernization will help it operate better.  

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Oct 07 2015

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