Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Senate Replaces FEMA

The Senate voted 87 to 11 to replace FEMA with a new federal agency named EMA--Emergency Management Agency. The Sentate did not restore the cabinet level position that FEMA once had. EMA will remain in the DHS--Department of Homeland Security. The major change appears to be that EMA will report directly to the President in times of major disaster.

I fail to see how this will help under the current Bush administration. He will probably be on vacation whenever a disaster strikes. Michael Brown, "hired" by the Bush administration, took the brunt of the criticism for FEMA's unraveling when Hurricane Katrina hit. However, the buck stops with Michael Chertoff and President Bush. It seems the Senate is simply passing the buck on this one.

Doesn't the Senate realize that we, the people, are sick of all the political window dressing and "spin?" Final passage may not occur since the House is considering a version that would take FEMA OUT of the DHS and restore it to the former structure that worked successfully in the past.

However, the House bill does not address the fact that the current White House resident is "incompetent."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FEMA serves as a shining example of the fact that It simply doesn't matter how much you reorganize a dysfunctional Agency, or who is at the helm, it will still remain dysfunctional. Or, in the case of FEMA, continue to be grossly mis-managed by mid- and low-level bureaucrats whom have repeatedly demonstrated their individual and collective ineptitude and incompetence.

Despite what the vaunted Director and his media coverage mongering Deputy's would lead us to believe, there is absolutely no basis in fact for presuming that FEMA's is more capable today of managing a disaster than it was during and immediately after Hurricane Katrina. In reality, a glimpse at just one aspect of day-to-day operations indicates that exactly the opposite may very well be true.

FEMA, since taking over the National Preparedness Directorate that it fought so hard to gain control of since it's inception as the Office of Domestic Preparedness under DOJ and later, DHS, has once again demonstrated a propensity for being incapable of managing even the most mundane functions, leading to signifcant doubts that the Agency as it exists today would be any more capable of dealing with a large scale disaster than it was during Hurricane Katrina. Or, for that matter, even a small one.

Just one example of the continued dysfunction involves funding for many key programs operated under the auspices of FEMA NPD, all which was allocated when the Federal budget was finally passed earlier this year. To date, much of this allocated funding continues to languish as the office moves at glacial speed to complete the administrative process required to release the funding, leaving many State and local agencies without the means to continue with preparedness efforts or correct shortcomings and fill gaps identifed earlier under of these same yet-to-be-funded-for FY08 programs. In some cases, these delays in aid and assistance to State and local recipients have gone on for three, four and even five months.

Several of these awarded but as-of-yet unfunded programs have been described at various times by members of the Adminstration, Congress and FEMA's vaunted Diretor and Deputy Director's as "vital", "critical" and "the cornerstone of our nation's preparedness". If this is how the Agency handles high-profile, high priority programs aimed at aiding State and local governments prepare for the worst, it leaves little room for doubt regarding the Agency's capability to provide support in an emergency.

There is absolutely no need to wait or the next disaster to determine whether or not FEMA is capable of managing the next Katrina-esque disaster. As is evident today, the Agency is incapable of effectively managing it's day-to-day operations, regardless of how extensive a reorganization it has undergone or who is at the helm.