Tuesday, November 22, 2011

FEMA's Office of Chief Counsel

It has been reliably reported to me that FEMA's Office of the Chief Counsel now has almost 150 positions of various types including those in the field. Until John Carey, GC from 1994-1997 there were never more than 33 FTE's all in Hqs. John was able to get Director James Lee Witt to approve 40 DAE field attorneys and that number appeared in fact before John departed. Apparently a number of those DAE attorneys now hold positions of power and influence in OCC including Adrian Seveier, the Deputy Chief Counsel, who was a DAE during the 2001 attack on the WTC, and Mary Ellen Martinet who has been an outstanding lawyer on disaster issues even before I retired.

It sounds to me like OCC is the best positioned ever to do its job. Many of the field attorneys have a largely operational focus and that is useful to the system. There also were several highly skilled technical attorneys while I was in GC that still remain. Most of the senior litigation staff including its leader Jordan Fried. Lisa Katchka also very skilled at administrative law and dealing with the foibles of some of FEMA's program officials.

I wish them all well at this Thanksgiving including all those who I have never met but respect for their efforts in keeping FEMA going.

Hoping some of the new attorneys and paralegals review the historical document postings on the homepage of this blog.

I retired on October 1, 1999. But am now deeply involved in a book about FEMA, DHS and the WH on plans and preparedness activities and policies during the period 2001 to 2009. It is expected to be published sometime next fall by the Institute for Naval Proceedings an organization that published Tom Clancy's very first book--The Hunt for Red October. I don't believe the book I am working on will have quite that cache!

One question I would have for Brad Keiserman the Chief Counsel is this one--What should the OCC be doing that is important that it is not doing? And of course now that he has been there for 18 months what are his impressions of what he inherited and has accomplished. No need to respond Brad--just what I would ask you if I was able to do so.

To my knowledge all of the former GC's and CC of FEMA are still living. The oldest is George Watson who lives in Bethany Beach Delaware. Brad you might find a reunion interesting. All added quite a bit to FEMA's history. Some more than others.