7000 Setting Up the ONA Office

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


7100 Location Options

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


The department may choose to locate the Emergency Services Program (ESP) leader and staff in either:

  • state office locations in Austin, or
  • the joint field office (JFO) in the disaster location.


7110 State Office Headquarters

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


Since 1990, the department has chosen to use the available office space assigned to the ESP in Austin. However, in certain situations, such as following a large hurricane, office space may be insufficient to house the additional temporary workers hired to process applications. For these situations, the department may choose to co-locate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the disaster area's joint field office, or rent additional office space in Austin.


7120 Joint Field Office (JFO)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


The JFO is temporarily located in the disaster area to coordinate disaster relief efforts. This office is staffed with representatives of state and federal agencies having disaster assistance responsibilities. The federal coordinating officer (FCO) and state coordinating office (SCO) are responsible for locating suitable office space to house program representatives and their on-site staff.

Normally, the ONA staff hired to process applications will work in Austin. The ESP leader will be on-site in the JFO during start-up procedures for coordination and negotiations with the SCO and FCO. Negotiations usually concern such matters as:

  • legislative and media briefings,
  • approval of the State Administrative Plan,
  • unique aspects of the disaster that may require policy and/or procedural changes or clarifications,
  • recent operational changes or limitations of other disaster recovery organizations that may affect ONA operations, and
  • contractor briefing.

Upon the return of the JFO to Austin, a designated staff person will represent the ONA in the JFO.

The JFO usually functions in the same location the entire time the individual and public assistance programs are being administered.


7200 Administrative Expenses

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


HHSC's Fiscal Management Services provides the ESP a Speed Chart code specific to each disaster. Business Management Services staff are notified of the Speed Chart code so that all expenses for staff, equipment and supplies may be charged to it.


7210 Speed Chart Codes

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


All administrative expenses for the disaster, except the salaries of permanent agency staff, are charged to the ESP Speed Chart code. Expenses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Travel expenses of staff working in recovery centers outside their headquarters' cities.
  • Salary, travel and per diem for temporary staff. Note: Other travel by HHSC employees that is not disaster related may not be charged to the ESP Speed Chart code. Per diem and travel is allowed only when HHSC employees are working outside their headquarters' cities.
  • Rental expense for ONA office space (if applicable), copier(s), telephones, utilities, postage and other business management-related expenses.


7220 Employee ID Numbers

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007


Employee ID numbers are established by Human Resource Services for use in the ONA office. These temporary numbers are used for temporary staff hired to assist in processing applications. Temporary staff include experienced disaster reservists and local hires.

Employee ID numbers are comprised of an 11-digit number.

Staff may establish as many units as necessary. Typical unit designations are:

  • recovery and investigations,
  • hotline,
  • eligibility,
  • special needs, and
  • data entry.


7300 Supervisory Staff

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


The ONA manager ensures the availability of adequate staff to be responsible for supervising temporary staff. The ONA manager assigns HHSC supervisors or staff who have administrative skills and experience and sufficient knowledge of HHSC administrative policies to supervise effectively. These HHSC supervisors are trained in ONA policy.


7310 Hiring and Supervising Temporary Staff

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009


Recruiting and Hiring

The ESP leader or designee coordinates recruiting and hiring with the state office Human Resource Services officer assigned to the disaster assistance task force. Recruiting and hiring of temporary staff are done at the state office level for local hire staff and experienced disaster reservists.

At-Will Termination

In response to the needs of the ONA office, staff may be hired on a temporary, or "at-will termination," basis. This status permits appointments to be made to the ONA for the duration of the disaster. Persons selected may have knowledge, skills or abilities related to disaster assistance programs.

All "at-will termination" ONA staff are placed in specifically designated status for ONA. These jobs are exempt from job posting and selection, promotion requirements and from the HHSC merit regulation (that is, minimum qualifications are waived).

"At-will termination" jobs are classified according to the classification plan developed by Human Resource Services for the ONA office.

"At-will termination" or "temporary" ONA staff must sign time-limited agreements stating that as employment-at-will employees, they acknowledge that they are subject to separation from employment at any time without prior notice. They have no complaint or grievance appeal rights concerning termination decisions.


Temporary staff are entitled to annual leave after six months of employment with the state. Temporary staff are immediately eligible for sick, emergency, substitute, compensatory or military leave in the same manner as HHSC probationary employees.

Staff Changes

Supervisors must coordinate staff changes and upgrades with the ESP leader.

Supervisory Requirements Concerning Temporary Staff

All temporary staff receive an abbreviated session (one-half day) of personnel training along with their job-specific training. Temporary staff also receive a copy of the HHSC work rules from Human Resource Services.

Most HHSC jobs have a six-month probationary period to allow for employee development. However, the grant program for each disaster must be completed in 18 months. Therefore, there is no time for supervisors to do extensive counseling to overcome problems in job performance. Instead, supervisors should emphasize from the beginning the expectations regarding adherence to work rules, production and quality standards. Conferences concerning problem areas should be brief, as should any documentation resulting from the conference. Because of the urgent, short-term nature of the program, it is neither necessary nor advisable for supervisors to discuss a problem repeatedly with employees. It is best for supervisors to dismiss temporary employees who do not perform according to work standards.