Monday, December 19, 2011

The Budget Cycle and FEMA

While the rest of US enjoy the holidays the budget nomes at OMB are doing their thing having given the departments and agencies pass backs on their budget requests for Fiscal Year 2013 that begins October 1st of 2012. This could be the last budget submission of any Obama Administration ever and if the Republicans win or lose it probably is dead on arrival when transmitted with the State of the Union Address or shortly thereafter in early February. So why is in even being submitted? Well for one thing required by law. For another serves as a marker for all the debates and appropriations efforts to follow. And finally it does to some degree reflect how the Administration sees the world and its own role in world and US history.

Most of FEMA budget is in the 045 category of fiscal codes--meaning state and local support. Most of the rest of DHS is in other fiscal codes. For example, General Government is fiscal code 800. It is hard to get ahold of how these assignments are made but they often foreshadow problems to come. For example, when Civil Defense left the 050 national security budget and became part of 045 it ended its role as being of any interest at all to the Armed Services Committees or the Armed Services Appropriators. Until 1995 FEMA always had one or two Associate Directors whose Senate confirmation ran through the Armed Services Committee. Once that stopped with repeal of the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress, DoD pretty well shrugged its shoulders on FEMA issues, and did learn from the 1992 LA riots not to federalize the NG for riots and civil disorders. In another blog I have recently argued that the real state role of the NG is in law enforcement for the Governors in riots and civil disorders and that the current lack of training of the NG for that role is dangerous. Others disagreed. See blog Sic Semper Tyrannis.

In recent blog posts here and elsewhere I have argued that in fact the EM community is small and growing smaller. Even the rest of the PUBLIC SAFETY budgets are in danger of full scale erosion with over 500,000 State and Local workers laid off many in the Public Safety arena. Now FEMA has take a huge hit, over $2 billion IMO, to its support for the STATES and their local governments first response community. This is enough to make it almost certain that some capability will not be just lost now but forever.

With over 100 declarations in CY 2012 by the President for disasters, an all-time high, is part of this reflection of diminished STATES and their local government capability? DoD really does not care what happens to STATES and their local governments just hoping to be kept out of their problems. That is why on base housing and schools is such a big issue. Isolation from the General Public is a conscience DoD strategy for both force protection and ensuring that the Armed Forces are not burdened with the problems of STATES and their local governments.

In the meantime, I understand the OMB passback on the FEMA budget was devastating reflecting a definite change in policy by the President with respect to FEMA. Not the least the Presidential deferrment of construction money for FEMA at St. Elizabeths. So far only the US Coast Guard and the DHS support staff locked in for that location.

The bottom line--stand by for an absolutely amazing State of the Union address as the President sallies forth to meet the voters in the fall. None seem happy with current disaster policy or the NFIP either in FEMA or Congress or the Administration. The result could be dramatic in 2012.