C. Working With the Response Management Team

1. Overview

To provide the necessary support to a DART, the OFDA Director may decide to activate an OFDA/W RMT. The OFDA Director, through the RMT, coordinates the USG response to a disaster from OFDA/W. The RMT serves as the primary liaison between field disaster response and OFDA/W. When the RMT is activated and in place, responsibility for decisionmaking, coordination, and primary point of contact for DART(s) or other resources deployed in the field moves from the Regional Team to the RMT until these responsibilities are returned to the OFDA Director.

2. Purpose

The chief purpose of the RMT is to represent USAID, oversee Washington-based support, provide interagency coordination of the relief activities, and support DART field operations. On occasion, more than one deployed DART may be supported by the RMT.

During a disaster response, the RMT coordinates the USAID response for the USAID Administrator and serves in a leadership role to coordinate the work of the various cooperating agencies. The RMT assesses USAID and cooperating agency information needs, develops timely and accurate information on the general disaster situation and USG response, and distributes this information appropriately. The RMT supports the DART(s) through OFDA divisions and other USG coordination including providing staffing and logistical support and acquiring and transporting relief supplies. The RMT coordinates the OFDA/W review and approval of funding proposals of relief activities, tracks OFDA obligations, and reports on other USG contributions. When U.S. military assets are involved with the disaster response, the RMT works closely with the appropriate Department of Defense (DOD) components to ensure a coordinated USG effort.

3. Activation

If the scope, complexity, or volume of the response to a disaster exceeds the capabilities of the OFDA Regional Team, the OFDA Director may activate an RMT under the leadership of a Response Manager. An RMT will usually be activated when a DART deployment is anticipated or occurring.

An RMT could be assigned in the following conditions, including but not limited to:

  • High level of political and media interest.
  • Multiple agency interest or involvement.
  • Rapidly increasing support needs due to rapid-onset-type disasters such as flood, hurricane, or earthquake.
  • Significant technological event or accident, including chemical, nuclear, biological, or radiological event.
  • Major displacement of civilian populations due to civil unrest or war.
  • Multiple disasters.
  • Additional support needed for long-term response requirements.

During initial stages of RMT activation, the Response Manager will communicate with the Regional Coordinator and Team Leader(s) to discuss the situation and identify the areas of support needed from the RMT. The Response Manager maintains a direct line of communication with DART(s) throughout the operation and is the lead point of contact between the DART(s) and OFDA.

4. Demobilization

When the complexity and/or workload associated with the relief operation is reduced to a certain level, the OFDA Director, in consultation with the Response Manager, Team Leader, and Regional Coordinator, may decide to move response management back to the Regional Team. Conditions where this would occur could include, among others:

  • Demobilization of DART personnel.
  • Maintenance-level DART operations.

At that time, the RMT will orchestrate an orderly transition of duties and responsibilities back to the Regional Team. In some cases, developing an interim staffing arrangement, in which some RMT positions are retained to supplement Regional Team staffing to handle the response workload, may be appropriate. A detailed Demobilization Plan will outline the transition steps, staffing, and timelines.

5. Structure

The structure and composition of the RMT is dependent on the size, complexity, type, and location of the disaster.

The OFDA/W RMT performs in five functional areas:

  1. Management manages overall RMT activities–including liaison with deployed DART(s), other offices within USAID, and cooperating agencies–and serves as point of contact with the media.
  2. Planning manages the response strategy and planning processes, is responsible for the daily preparation of information products, and serves as the coordinator for the program grant funding and management process.
  3. Logistics manages the sourcing and transportation of supplies and materiel to the disaster site.
  4. Administration manages and provides support to RMT administrative/contract activities.
  5. Communications and Records manages communications, ensuring that proper formats, distribution, filing, and documentation procedures are followed according to standards established in the Communications and Records Procedures.

The number of individuals assigned to the RMT is determined by the skills and qualifications needed to perform the necessary activities to meet the strategy and objectives. The organizational structure is designed to expand or contract depending on the complexity and operational requirements.

TOC: Disaster Assistance Response Team