Friday, August 13, 2010


Post-Hurricane Andrew the GAO wrote a significant report in responding to Congress:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ GAO
Results in Brief
United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548
Resources, Community, and
Economic Development Division
July 23, 1993
Congressional Requesters

A copy of this report is available from this blogger. Why is this report so significant? Its fundamental and basic recommendations are still sound but are essentially unaccomplished since February 1993 and in fact document the systemic failures and gaps that led to Katrina and now will again lead to catastrophic incident/failures in preparedness, response and recovery.
The fundamental recommendation I am focusing on in this post is the failure of the President to name a specific and fully accountable "White House Czar" for catastrophic disaster incidents/events. This gap has recently again been demonstrated in the H1N1 outbreak, and of course the BP catastrophe in the GOM.
It is interesting to watch Putin and modern Russia struggle with the events of the current fires widespread and costing even Moscow increases in morbidity as well as loss of almost 25% of Russian wheat harvest.
Another blog I often comment upon has been addressing the so-called "Black Swan" phenomena that seems to plague man's thinking about catastrophe and probability. Well my conclusion is that a single lifetime is usually much too short a period of record to given mankind insight into large-scale events and their reoccurrence. Thus, the significance of the GAO letter report listed above.
Since it was issued in 1993 despite much fuss and feathers the critical junctures between organizations in the Executive Branch including the Executive Offices of the White House and the Presidency have not been fixed and in fact are in some cases worse than they have ever been. Some would say it is lack of sympathy or empathy with what has happened in the past and what could happen and the lack of knowledge transmission that some relatively small fixes could result in large rewards for any large scale unplanned event impacting the American people. So the real target of this post is GAO itself and wondering why it lists it previous reports on some subjects but does not really document the failures of the Executive Branch to follow its recommendations even when sound.