Monday, July 25, 2011

So Who is Running FEMA?

Strongly suggest that the total travels of W. Craig Fugate, Richard Serrino, and Tim Manning be summarized and made available to the public and annotated with those directly tied to a disaster domestic or International [I give full credit to Tim Manning for his trip to New Zealand and helping out the KIWIs as well I am sure as learning from the experience]. I also suggest a footnot as to total annual leave taken by these three although it used to be technically PAS personnel were NEVER on annual leave. All these three are Senate confirmed.

The above would give some insights as to how policy is formulated within and by FEMA's key appointees and whether one or all might show up in a catastrophic disaster situation--my definition by the way is where multiple states are involved or government capability to respond and recovery are knocked off status immediately by the event and like to be disrupted for 10 or more days. THE FEDERAL PRIORITY IN CASE YOU DID NOT KNOW IS TO MAKE SURE UNDER THE CONSTITUTION THAT A STATES CAPABILITY IS RESTORED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE EVEN TAKING PRIORITY OVER FEMA OF RESTORATION OF ITS OWN CAPABILITIES. You heard it hear first but this was long contained in my briefing of federal and state officials during my FEMA career from 1979-1999.

This does not indicate in anyway of course that FEMA has command and control over any state or local resources and in my opinion (IMO) does not and cannot be given that authority by Congress or the President. This does not mean that FEMA cannot assist state and local government officials or even fund their operations. Isn't it interesting that so little attention has been given officially to these important questions. Oddly when DOJ officials where involved in FEMA decision making and to see where they might be see the FEMA/OGC opinions on the home page of this blog they often called me to ask questions and if I had a position. They did this because from my entry to FEMA to October 1, 1986, when I became involved in REP, I ran FEMA's interface on litigation with DOJ and I was supposedly a known quantity. My answers were often relayed higher up the DOJ totem pole and perhaps strangely they often agreed with my position. Perhaps I and DOJ were wrong and FEMA officialdom and other lawyers were right but what is fascinating is that when put to the test of a written opinion DOJ always sided with me not FEMA or its lawyers. Hey you have to have some fun in the gummit.

My point is that FEMA does not itself have a clear cut chain of command. This could be handled in formal delegations but is not.

And then of course even if FEMA decides how is that reviewed and approved or rejected by DHS? There can of course be some urgency in these decision making processes. How soon will FEMA approve exercises where the play reflects the NORWEGIAN tragedy?