GSA Establishes New Emergency Response, Recovery Office

In a move designed to meet the U.S. General Services Administration's (GSA) vital role in national emergency preparedness, response and recovery, the agency has announced the creation of its new Office of Emergency Response and Recovery.

GSA's Office of Emergency Response and Recovery (OERR) will leverage all the resources within GSA in one central office and provide a new level of support and assistance to first responders, emergency workers and recovery teams.

GSA is the nation's premier contracting and acquisition resource and now those assets will be specifically organized to respond to national emergencies.

"I am from New Orleans and grew up in the 9th Ward," said Lurita Doan, GSA administrator. "My house, along with all of my neighbors', was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. I have made it a high priority to retool and substantially improve GSA's ability to react during periods of national emergency."

"We can't prevent future disasters, but we can surely respond quicker, more effectively and with more resources and that is exactly why GSA has created this new office," Doan added.

Established in GSA's Central Office in Washington, D.C., OERR is headed by the chief of emergency response and recovery officer who reports to the administrator through the chief of staff. OERR consists of the Policy and Plans Division, Training and Exercise Division, Disaster Support Division, Communications and Security Division and the Historic Preservation Team.

The GSA order also abolishes the agency's Office of Emergency Management and transfers its functions to OERR. Some of the duties of those divisions include developing agency-wide disaster readiness, implementing disaster plans and integrating emergency historic preservation requirements in response and recovery plans.

As an interim measure, GSA Chief of Staff John Phelps will also serve as acting chief of emergency response and recovery officer. Phelps has served as GSA's chief of staff since July 3, 2006.

"By designing GSA's Office of Emergency Response and Recovery in this fashion, we have further refined our capabilities so we can do our job - helping government agencies help the American people during disasters - when they count on us most," said Phelps.

Prior to his arrival at GSA, Phelps served as COO of the Arizona Red Cross, where he was responsible for operations of the sixth-largest American Red Cross chapter in the United States.

Additionally, Phelps was the deputy director of the Arizona Office of Homeland Security and led the creation of systems and processes within that office to provide more effective and efficient support to hundreds of first responder organizations.

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