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DHS Surge Capacity Force

A provision in the 2006 Post-Katrina Act authorized DHS to create a surge capacity force (SCF) of federal employees to augment a catastrophic disaster response. The Act calls for deployable non-FEMA DHS employees to be part of the SCF. The Secretary of DHS will activate the SCF when a catastrophic incident, such as a hurricane Katrina event, exceeds the capacity of FEMA’s existing disaster workforce to respond. Volunteering for the DHS SCF is a unique opportunity for Coast Guard civilian employees to assist individuals in need during major disasters or emergencies and support USCG and DHS missions, including a one DHS approach in protecting the American Homeland.

  • Nature of the SCF Volunteer Work: The work entails the performance of FEMA Community Relations and Individual and Public Assistance duties involving such things as distributing information and application forms regarding FEMA disaster assistance benefits available to the public or helping to monitor the removal of debris or other basic assistance offered to the affected community. Volunteers are requested to be available within 72 hours for deployment for a period of approximately 45 days, however, participation in the SCF is strictly voluntary and volunteers may be released at anytime for personal reasons. Volunteers must be able to work within a Joint Field Office (JFO) or other disaster facility which may be a somewhat austere work envirmnment.
  • Requirements for SCF volunteers:
    • Self-certification, that employees have obtained in writing or by email, their supervisors’ approval. Employees must be able to furnish the supervisors’ approval documents upon request. This program is strongly supported by the Commandant and whenever possible, supervisors are encouraged to approve volunteers for this program. Denials by the supervisors must `e explained in writing and provided to the applicants.A performance rating od record at the meets/achieved expectations or higher. The absence of a performance improvement plan or any disciplinary actions in the preceding 12 months before application and at the time of deployment.
    • Possession of a government travel card. If employees do not possess one, the application for a travel card must specify that it is for SCF purposes. (Note: Employees must successfully complete mandatmry online travel card training).
    • Self-certification by employees regarding pre-deployment medical conditions.
    • Employees must self-certify that they have completed the five online FEMA courses.
  • SCF Volunteerism and USCG Operational Necessities: The process must be conducted in a way that does not significantly disrupt agency operations. To this end, the supervisors of interested employees must assess if the request to volunteer for the SCF will affect the operational capability of the organization. This applies both when employees initially sign up as volunteers and again as a reassessment of the current organizational mission requirements at the time of an actual call up. Because of their potential role within a recovery from a catastrophic event, civilian members within the following groups are excluded from participation:
    • Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT)
    • District Response Assist Team (DRAT)
    • Joint Field Office (JFO)
    • Maritime Transportation System Recovery Units (MTSRU)
    • Selected Reserve (SELRES)
  • The application process: Instead of a static website address, the application process utilizes a software program where individual e-mails are sent to civilian employees with instructions on how to apply. Volunteers must apply/respond through this email from their USCG/ work email address. The email will announce the “open season” for accepting applications. As the program progresses, subsequent emails will be sent to announce additional open season dates and updates.
  • Sending applications to FEMA: The application data will be encrypted and transmitted to FEMA for entry into the FEMA Automated Deployment Database (ADD). Once the application is received by FEMA, they will furnish volunteers with instructions and additional information, including how to change any contact information in the ADD at any time.
  • Questions or inquires may be addressed to: USCG-SCF@uscg.mil.

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