United Parcel Service is loaning one of its veteran logistics executives, Matt Lawrence, to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for a nine-month stint – the first such “loaned executive” from private industry to serve at the agency. UPS will continue to pay Lawrence’s salary, it said.

Lawrence will report to FEMA’s newly created Logistics Management Directorate and will help evaluate current disaster logistics processes, sharing best practices from the private sector where applicable, said William “Eric” Smith, the Directorate’s Assistant Administrator,

“FEMA understands that critical know-how will be lost if we don’t actively engage our partners across all spectrums, including the private sector,” said Smith, adding that internal changes within FEMA over the past year drove the creation of the Directorate, where new approaches to disaster logistics management are being explored.

Earlier this year, Smith said FEMA approached the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeking commercial expertise and UPS was the only company that stepped up to volunteer an executive
UPS said Lawrence brings a broad range of logistics knowledge to FEMA, including transportation network management, warehousing, inventory management and distribution. He specialized in helping UPS customers to evaluate and redesign their supply chains for improved efficiency and responsiveness and his most recent assignment at UPS involved working with healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to improve logistical efficiency, including the development of contingency plans to respond to crises that interrupt the flow of goods.

For Lawrence, there is a personal element to his new assignment. He lives in New York City, not far from the World Trade Center site, and was caught in the chaos following the Sept 11 terrorist attacks there. He also has strong ties to the Gulf region, which was severely impacted two years ago by Hurricane Katrina.

“I’m looking forward to being part of the solution and to better understand the challenges that FEMA faces in times of disaster,” said Lawrence, adding he hopes to work directly with the responders who are tasked with getting goods to those in need. “That’s where operational skills really can come into play,” he said. “Standardized approaches, technology and streamlined processes can have a tremendous impact on how efficiently responders can deliver service.”