In my dealings with emergency management professionals in local and regional jurisdictions, I keep hearing them tell me that they have lost equipment due to lack of tools to track them once they are on loan, or don't know how much excess equipment exists so they do not have to go through the budget fight to purchase equipment that may already be sitting gathering dust. From out of the trenches, one of the equipment guys that I am connected to on Linked In, emailed me when he read my blog and asked me where I thought most Emergency Operations Centers were in their level of equipment management process maturity.
Without identifying who he is, and which EOC he works in, he told me how five 140K generators were lost after being deployed after a tornado event, and found seven months later near where they were deployed but had been moved on an ad-hoc use. The records were never updated, and the generators were found quite by accident.He ranked is agencies process maturity as chaotic as their tool of choice is an excel spreadsheet. I tried to be nice and responded that I thought that his business process was somewhat repeatable rather than chaotic, as they had used different tools, their business process is somewhat structured, can be relied upon during stress times, and that the business process is somewhat enforced. Just because the asset management system they use is email and excel, means that the record keeping can become outdated quickly, and that is why they lost the generator. He also reminded me of the difficulty that their agency had during the last DHS audit because some of the tracking of funded equipment was not present and no one knew what had happened.
At last year's UASI conference, I attended a session on surviving the DHS Audit. The stakes for failing the audit are pretty high with the DHS conducting "Reach back" audits trying to put a money value on lost equipment or equipment purchased using incorrect guidelines. So I do know that the stakes are high.
"Now", said my equipment manager, "the situation is worse. With the funding cuts, they lost some of the people, and the knowledge about equipment whereabouts and usage went with them. When I called a person who's job was cut and is still on the unemployment line who for sure, knew where the missing equipment should be, the "I don't remember" answer that I got was an indication of the growing chaos of our failed process."
I recently came across a Gartner study about the state of asset management business processes in private industries. This study pointed out exactly what we heard from the equipment management trenches. In this study Gartner indicates that up to 30% of organizations are in a ‘chaotic’ state, meaning that they do not know what they own, where the assets are located or who is using them.
Another statistic coming from the UK disaster recovery community is that according to research by KPMG, UK companies are wasting £17 billion a year because managers have not applied proper asset management concepts.
Finally other research indicates that companies are overspending by up to 40% because of underutilization, inefficient maintenance and petty theft of their assets.
I can well imagine that with budget cuts and job elimination, the knowledge transfer that a well defined equipment management process affords can be lost with the first layoff notice.
I can't answer for agencies I have not seen nor communicated with. But I do get approached by my clients and potential clients asking for help in organizing their equipment management programs, and I am seeing the same outcomes in group after group that I first come in contact with.
So I would like to get some answers to questions that are now being asked, especially during the severe reduction of funds that we are all facing.
Do we know the range of equipment utilization in emergency management agencies?
Do we know honestly what percentage of the emergency manage agencies can say they have their equipment managed properly?
I will be at the UASI Conference in Columbus next week. Come by to see me as I will be hanging around booth 600 near the entrance of the exhibit hall. I really would like to talk about these questions and come up with some answers that I can report back to this blog. If you go to this conference, stop by I would like to meet and talk to you.