Friday, December 31, 2010

Terminals Are Targets For Terrorists

Recently main stream media including today's WAPO discusses the issue of private security firms vis a vis TSA coverage for various airports. What these articles do not disclose is the lacks of security efforts for the airports and the terminals themselves.

The wrong strategy has been chosen by TSA and now clustering of visitors and passengers, arriving and departing, are good targets for terrorists. The airlines, an industry that has never really made money without government subsidy, still stick to a past of glamorous airline travel and characters and airline travel well never again have that fig leaf for many wrongheaded solutions.

Each major terminal needs to be redesigned so that passengers are screened far away from the terminal and their baggage also and then transported under secure arrangements to the terminal itself. NO MORE GREETERS or TEARS and KISSES at the terminal itself. This should be done well away from the terminal itself. MUMBAI proved as has past events that crowded places, including stadiums, should be treated as potential targets.

So time to wake up TSA and design a new system of airport and passenger terminal protection and that is in addition to the aircraft and their passenger and cargo loads themselves.

This is the last post of 2010 so Happy New Years to All!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Economics and Finance

Neither economics or finance are my strong suit. I took 6 credit hours of economics in college using an early edition of Dr. Paul Samuelson's famous text. That book was not as quantitative as is now the driver for the discipline. That said I always find books for the general audience that I enjoy and learn from. From the books of Michael Lewis with his brilliant "Liars Poker" to the books by Ron Chernow about Rockerfeller and Morgan the economic and finanical history of the US is explored.

Now a new gem IMO has been added. Co-authored by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera entitled "All The Devils Are Here" subtitled "The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis" and it explores key history back to the 1970's in US economic and financial circles. Bethany was also the co-author of another gem "The Smartest Guys In The Room" about the Enron collapse.

At any rate great reading and my conclusion after reading is that no real financial reform has occurred and the US is again pretending that the king is wearing clothes. So guess we need that small honest boy to tell US that he is naked, stark naked. Unfortunately, I believe that many of the key nation-states that control international economics and finance and their leadership understand completely the US financial cupboard is bare and are shorting the American economy as their basic strategy.

Judge for youself.

Happy New Years!

The Blog Year In Review

Well it has been really fun blogging this year. Because several postings overtaken by events they were eliminated but still over 300 entries this year. Interestingly to me is that yesterday's blog drew a statistically significant increase in hits. Guess with nothing to do but blame the Mayor the snowbound were playing on the computer.
Also of interest is the getting more hits out of Great Britain, France, Iraq (perhaps US forces?) and Russia. Well I can and do argue that the policy choices and issues underlying EM and HS are universal [well perhaps only Earthly wide] in their application.

Domestically Haiti and the BP Oil Spill and the Blizzard of 2010 looking like having some lasting impact. I first met Professor Tom Birkland, PhD after 9/11/01 when collaborating on some projects with Claire Rubin including research on her timeline projects and other matters. Tom is really the guru on how "focusing events" have impacted EM. His articles and books seem to have definitely withstood the test of time even with some might argue is an academic career likely to run for several decades more. So strongly urge reading his work.

What is beginning to scare me, however, is that while events might focus attention that does not mean that long lasting reform or learning from those events will occur. Hoping I am wrong of course. The whole purpose of this blog is to add what little I can to learning from the past and also from current events.

The end of the first decade of the 21st Century (depending on how you count of course)I think has locked in EM and HS as features of governance for the rest of the century. One of the things that interests me is that there is no question that the oldest and richest democracy (actually a Republic) continues to lead the world in many aspects of EM and HS. But not exclusively of course. And the NOT INVENTED HERE syndrome continues to plague much of EM and HS even while brains equal to anything here deal with the same issues elsewhere.

And below the surface the increasing effort of the USAF to become involved in domestic EM and fund an extensive effort is fascinating to watch. I was told that USAF funded over 500 personnel, both enlisted and officers, to attend one of the IAEM biannual meetings this year. While not exactly sure on funded the attendance at that meeting by these personnel was definitely authorized and encouraged. Of course NORTHCOM was led several times already by USAF flag ranks.

In a way 2010 and its events clear the way for a whole host of new problems that I believe will dominate events starting in 2011 but extending far past that calendar year. These include the forced withdrawal from Iraq, the potential of Iranian influence there, the dissolution of that nation state and other long term impacts of the US invasion of 2003. I am predicting civil war and sectarian violence but hoping I am wrong for that potentially powerful country.

Mexico is of the deepest concern to me and I separate out that nation-state from other international concerns of the US in its foreign policy and relations. The 2010 Decennial Census documents again how we are becoming a single country and each mutually dependent on the other--and unfortunately dependent on each other for losing to the drug cartels.

Haiti of course looks like a preview of many efforts by other nation-states to repeal the MONROE DOCTRINE by using their soft power, not hard power, to influence the West Hemisphere for both good and bad. You do understand that China runs the Panama Canal and many S.American ports do you not? And the Canal is being widened significantly and that effort will be complete by 2016 so that VLCC [Very Large Cargo Carriers] that can carry three times the containers of current ships can get through the canal. Oddly the Baltic Dry index continues to drop as world trade freezes up from the economic distress of many countries including the US that are significant debtors. The last major country to repudiate its foreign debt was Russian in 1997 but I suspect more are on the way.

And of course MOTHER NATURE will be heard from again in many ways in 2011. But it is the HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES under its new Republican majority and despite what some argue an incompetent Senate Majority, weakened by the election but not overturned,and a bumbling or worse Executive Branch that indicates that Bill's ranking of the US in its governance stands about 2 on a scale of 10 being the best largely because of corruption and lack of leadership and brainpower.

Well hoping as always for improvements in that ranking. And of course all know now that the Shanghai school system is best in the world based on standardized tests. That may not be the only measure but still significant.

And finally the Chinese have done a really great job promoting what I call the Chinese Condominium this year. If they can just manage successfully internal dissent and pressures from religion to ecomomics it could be their century. I do believe that the geriatic leadership of China means that the next generation will be even tougher to deal with. And the recruitment of Chinese-Americans with technical skills continues and now I see and hear more and more of recruitment of non-Chinese American talent and from elsewhere in the world that is a wonder to watch.

And wondering if the longer term rivalry of India and China will turn primarily on language and demographics. The seizure of Tibet by military conquest by China in 1959 looking more and more like driven by water resource issues. That topic may soon be dominating much of the relations of various nation-states.

Happy New Years To All!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nor'Easters are Cyclonic Storms!

In early 1978, a ferocious Nor'Easter hit the Massachuett's coast! The response drove then Governor Michael Dukakis from office. I visited that coast early that summer. Scituate and Hull were badly damaged. Interesting, a 35 foot sea wall in Scituate was breached by the storm and while memory may fail there was a fascination to the 3-6 foot pile of smooth stone rocks that damaged the first row of houses on the ocean and even penetrated the second row. Geology friends said a study was later done to see where these cannon ball size to 4-5 foot diameter rocks has come from during the storm. They claimed no answer ever found but they guessed the ocean floor as far as 50-100 miles offshore.
Dukakis returned to the Governorship later and of course he ran for President against George H.W. Bush in 1988, losing in a campaign featuring the picture and parole of Willie Horton a convicted murdered who on parole murdered again.
Prior to that event many meteorologists and climatologists took the position that cyclonic storms could not occur in the Norther Hemisphere. It happened however that a weather satellite was directly over the event and the picture showed a perfect cyclonic storm with a narrow eye that to outwards appearances could have been any spectacular hurricane. Thus technology advanced science and rebutted ignorance.

Now as the NY City area digs out from a massive event it is time that just as with hurricanes, more preparedness for massive storms and their winter fallout should occur throughout the northeast. This even may still yet turn into a tragic demonstration of lack of preparedness. But perhaps the anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism forces in the Big Apple can be given snow shovels to help out.

In any event this is a huge huge event and Mayor Bloomberg is definitely looking his age and perhaps dreams of a Presidential run are ending in the deep snow. Food and shelter and emergency medical care already show evidence of a highly stressed capability and not much ability to mobilize effectively. This would be a great event to study the preparedness of the metro NYC area and its capabilities.

Well at least the snow is not as far as I know a contaminating agent. See the glass is half-full!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What's In A Name Change?

The Science & Technology Directorate has been underperforming since DHS opened its doors. Now one of its units has been renamed from the Command & Control and Interoperability Office to the Business Enterprise Office. No real background information released by DHS as to reasons for the change and hoping that the DHS oversight committees demand an explanation. Why?

As many know there is no real command and control architecture in DHS. Some of its subordinate units do have that as for example the U.S. Coast Guard, which DHS leadership has continuously tried to understaff and underbudget since DHS opened its doors. The recent statement released as a public relations bouquet to itself by DHS leadership on 2010 successes failed to mention the U.S. Coast Guard which at least to the extent I thought possible responded to the largest Oil Spill in history better than anyone could expect. It did reveal anomolies like outdated procedures and strategies, most of which dated from 1999. Yet the mere size of the task should have had DHS arguing that it was as successful as possible given all the facts. Or lack of them.

So we do know that little has been done to establish Command and Control to the extent DHS is involved in large-scale domestic catastrophes. No administration has done this and it would be of interest to know how that label entered DHS history originally and what was accomplished or not.

We do know that despite recognition from the events of 9/11/01 specifically, interoperability across governmental units and responders has not yet been accomplished. Recent reports indicate that another decade may well pass before that is accomplished. Surprisingly, since 9/11/01 one of the regulatory agencies that does seem to be really trying hard and with some impact is the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] and their efforts should be followed closely.

My guess is that the somewhat limited accountability in the S&T Directorate which has largely failed to produce applied research or technology of much assistance to DHS is trying to make sure that none of its units are really accountable for much.

Since the controversial nomination and confirmation of Dr. Tara O'Toole, the S&T Directorate has certainly not accomplished what I expected. Perhaps the staffing and funding she found upon arrival was not up to snuff but even so not much progress has been made.

The continued reliance of DHS and its components to reorganize, changes names of organizations and other "management" strategies reveals to me a deeper distress. Probably because of the terrible status of internal delegations in DHS and the fact that personnel and appointees that try and cooperate and collaborate with other Executive Branch and private organizations that have both assigned roles and knowledge means that DHS is more stovepiped than most other departments in the Executive Branch.

And just for the record, the new DHS HQ under construction has inadquate facilities to promote cooperation and collaboration including conferencing facilities of all sizes and interoperable communication systems. A huge contract was challenged in a successful bid protest that will delay by up to two years the communications systems for that HQs.

Well plenty of work for Peter King and his House Committee on Homeland Security to give oversight. Interesting how his first priority is the radicalization of American Muslims. Are American Evangelicals radicals? Well someone must lead the Crusade against Islam I guess. And note there is ONE, repeat ONE, Congressman who is a Muslim. From Minnesota no doubt. And on the Homeland Security Committee to the extent that I have information. Will there be readings from the Quran in the Committee hearings? Will the acceptance of violence by all the desert religions be studied by the Committee? Perhaps the First Amendment and its grammar will be a key area of study. I understand that there is now an effort to label Sharia legal systems unConstitutional in the US, but not certain how that will be supported!

Well all good fun ahead. And what is the status of the missionary efforts in the entirety of the world's religions at this point? Meaning numbers of missionaries and their funding and locations? How many nation-states truly separate religion and government? Do we (the US)?

Monday, December 27, 2010

GOP's First Failure of Leadership in HOUSE

The new 112th House Republican leadership has failed to reorganize any committee's jurisdiction including the previously failed concept known as the Homeland Security Committee. A huge loss for Peter King the new chairman. One way it could recover is to assert leadership over my old favorite missing link--a system of Command and Contol for domestic disasters and and a chain of command. NO repeat NO ADMINISTRATION HAS YET TAKEN ON THIS ISSUE--THE RESULT IS HURRICANE ANDREW AND KATRINA AND these huge demonstrations of ineptitude will be with US shortly. Obama has now pretty much lucked out two hurricane seasons in a row and of course other possibilities exist.

I am now willing to flatly predict that HAITI response and recovery looks like the future for domestic US events also.

And reliable reports indicate that the CUBAN medical teams are now well in excess of battalion strength and closing in on regimental strength. The US MSM blackout of all discussion of CUBANS and their efforts in HAITI continue.

A huge fight in the Executive Branch over provision of emergency water sources in disasters and the jurisdiction of various federal agencies is now actively under way. The National Academy of Science has torpedoed the Principles and Standards released in Draft in 2009 by CEQ correctly suggesting lack of clarity.

So the new year will be full of fun and games but not sure what progress will obtain. Judicial decisions impacting health care and national security will be huge news this year. Because of generic ignorance on the issues of federalism in the federal judiciary and also ignorance of national security concern this may end up fulfilling my prediction that a possible one-term President Obama will face the judgement of history largely based on the outcomes of litigation and nominations in his first and possibly only adminstration! The most devastating comment in arguing for his place in history may be the tickets he punched at Harvard Law School and teaching there. Harvard may not be proud of its reputation post Obama.

All of this adds up to much more detailed and technical analysis on the blog this coming year. Sorry but some who just want less substance will have to be patient.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

TRAPPED-The Transportation Dependent and Federal Policy

Recently the Press has been filled with follow-up to the NY Times story "Thinking the Unthinkable" and its focus on sheltering in place as opposed to evacuation as a protective action should there be a NUDET or RDD incident or event.

The articles also focused on the multiagency document issued in June 2010 Preparedness for a NUDET that is available on this blog under baseline docs. That 2nd Edition focused to some degree on new subjects like Emergency Public Information.
The January 2009 version issued in the last days of the Bush Administration was heavily criticized on technical grounds.
Neither edition has gone through with review by the NAS or NRC (national research council) and that should be done.

There is a place for evacuation as a PAR [protective action recommendation] but oddly the new policy guidance has appeared just as the transportation dependent population has grown dramatically. Many in urban cores benefiting from improved and heavily subsidized public transportation regimes have abandoned owning a car for reasons of economics, expense and other reasons.

The CENSUS did not specifically examine or document those who are transportation dependent in the US. There is some ancedotal evidence that the better the public transportation modalities the more likely those areas are to thrive population wise and economically. So there is that return on investment.

Unfortunately, few public transportation systems have emergency plans or anticipate increased usage in crisis and disaster situations.

FEMA historically picked up the evacuation emphasis from the federal civil defense program and its predecessor organizations. The fact that during Hurricane Katrina, over 80% of NOLA successfully evacuated thereby meeting FEMA long published standards for success did not prevent those trapped and left behind from being documented as subjected to government misfeasance and nonfeasance charges in particular leveled at FEMA. Evacuation is complicated and its origins in the federal civil defense effort goes back to the NIXON Adminstration when it tried to deal with the "fallout" from the failure of the JFK civil defense shelter effort [some would say that program was a success]! Also the full benefits of the National Defense Highway System (Interstate) were beginning to become available by the last 60's for the program started under Dwight Eisenhower in 1958. His effort was premised on his own personal knowledge from convoy efforts in the 1930's and the German {NAZI] autobahn efforts in the 30's.

So where does that leave the US? My point is simple. Shelter in place designed to protect against fallout but not heat or blast is a short term solution perhaps as short as 2-3 hours even assuming properly sealed single family residence. Ionizing radiation from an core-melt accident comes in two forms. Airborne and depositional material. Oddly the technical arguments over dosate, safe and lifetime are driven by EPA and FDA, one for the population and response community the other for the food ingestion pathway. These so-called PAGs need to be studied and understoond by everyone not just the response community or health physics community. What is of interest is that it might not be an either or decision, shelter or evacuate but some elements of the area surrounding the incident/event might need to shelter and others to evacuate. After all a pie usually is served in slices.

This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the availability of sound measurng systems, and their are up to 18 available atmospheric dispersion models available through federal sources with no real agreement on the model to be used in even a core-melt accident.

It also terrifically burdens the Emergency Public Information load because it is so technical yet needs to be accurately translated in announcements over the EAS, WEB and other means of communications. And the distinctions between WARNING, Alerting, and notification must also be observed.

So plenty of work to be done. Hoping this issue will be receiving more attention in the future by all concerned or impacted from First Responders to Citizens and residents of major urban areas. Good luck and remember the testimony of my panel at the Seabrook Nuclear Power station liscensing proceeding is that sometimes, despite the fallout, it might be best to just walking away from the center of the incident/event, hopefully with wind blowing in opposite direction. Hey keep in shape! Get those walking shoes.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

WOW-Some Tidbits that may surprise!

Things used to slow down the end of the year but apparently not in recent years.

The WH Science Advisor issued a memo on science integrity which should always be of great interest to those concerned about good governance. Too bad not signed by the President himself. My take is the corruption of science is deep and widening in both federal circles and the academic community as more and more science is "bought" as opposed to being studied. Perhaps I am wrong and hoping so. The document will be posted on this blog in the next week or you can request a copy from me. An example--the NFIP maps are supposed to be based on the best available science and technical information yet only a single group has dominated the rather inept mapping program--hydrologists and hydrologic civil engineers--no other disciplines, including of course meteorologists or soils engineers for one or two of the missing.

The budget compromise looking like finalized today has no money for health care reform, financial system reform, or even other basics that became law in 2010. Reason it continues the budget at the levels established for FY 2010 that ended October 1, 2010.

GAO is toughening its stance on DHS and FEMA. It has finally started to abandon its "reasonable progress" or "substantial progress" in favor of less subjective terminology.

The foremost disaster legislation analyst in the country, Keith Bea, retires from government on January 1st, 2011.

The eclipse was a wow last night.

I detect an overall decline in interest in EM and HS in various circles and hoping this is also a misimpression. The forthcoming budget declines in those two disciplines looks like very dependent on events and reactive governance. The contracting community is losing interest except for those able to follow through on prior contracts.

AM papers indicating $14B spent by TSA on scanning systems with marginal returns. This who airline safety regime needs rethinking IMO.

Los Angeles getting pounded with savage winter storms. Mudslides no doubt to follow. Hoping no "big one"!

Britain and Europe entering new mini-ICE AGE? Probably not but not for trying this December. Second major British travel snafu this year. Iceland ash and now snow and ice.

I will be delving into what may seem like disaster and FEMA erotica in neer future. Generators, blue tarps, and other significant trivia that impacts preparedness.

The DOJ ethics case against Jerry Lewis and others in the Congress were largely discarded by the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division. The case against Lewis may have been a factor in Hal Rogers beating out Representative Lewis for the full Chairmanship of the HOUSE Appropriations Committee. Congressman Issa again will be filing subpoenas within days of the Republicans taking over the House majority in January and of course these will perhaps terrify the Executive Branch targets and slow down progress on many fronts. Guess that is the intention. My experience is that the more members of Congress spend their time looking back the less they accomplish but that may be the intention now.

Well it has been fun and hopefully some have found items of interest and amusement and otherwise in the blog in its first calendar year. Hope it improves in the future.

This is not trivia--Haiti has turned out to be far more tragic than even I had contemplated. Largely because of US misfeasance, nonfeasance,and malfeasance. I keep hoping this event is not prologue to how the US will handle the next major disaster on a catastrophic scale but am not hopeful.

And yes Louisiana loses a seat in the House of Representatives so that will result in less pressure perhaps in the ability of the Louisana delegation to keep a non-sustainable enterprise going in NOLA. By their June 2011 deadline, the USACOE will not have completed protecting NOLA against the Category 3 storm or the 500 year flood. Tragedy could well still be the fate of this once beautiful culture and city but a culture and city that has always lived on dreams not reality.

And of course new OMB Director is now the most important man in government and may actually be up to that role. He will be deciding the fates not just of bureacrats and their programs, functions, and activities but the fate of citizens and their properties, fates of nation-states and their citizens, and fates of various mulitlateral organizations and their effectiveness.

By far the brightest star shining in the Washington firmament is Robert Zoellick of the World Bank. His presidency is beginning to show the promise that this organization has for development, sustainablility, crisis management that was always there inherently. And oddly it is the Chinese who have helped breathe new life into this organization even as China remains a principle beneficiary. A dichotomy that few can understand since Chinese status as a developing country continues their skillful use of international relationships. Wondering when someone will decide that the US is a developing country. Track teh FDI flows worldwide and the US to get a glimpse of the future.

And the greatest dollar devaluation of all time continues. Where is Alexander Hamilton when we need him?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Is the New FEMA prepared for ICE STORMS and Energy Outages?

There once was a time when snow and ice were not the subject of disaster declarations. In fact the Fire, flood, or explosion litany of the disaster legislation often seemed to not even include those hazards. Snowstorms have now been added.

The current definition reads:

"Major disaster” means any natural catastrophe (including any hurricane, tornado,
storm, high water, winddriven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic
eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought), or, regardless of cause, any
fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination
of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant
major disaster assistance under this Act to supplement the efforts and available
resources of States, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in
alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby."

Thus icestorms and energy outages are not specifically listed unless accompanied by one of the listed hazards or the specifically named ones--fire, flood or explosion. And of course radiological releases and terrorist attacks are also not specifically listed or generically listed.

Well it will be interesting to see exactly what FEMA and DHS do in the event of a prolonged icestorm or energy outage or even what their plans and capabilities are in fact. A large ice storm in KY last winter has resulted in an outpouring of disaster largess and surely this was partially the result of efforts by the long serving Congressman from KY Fifth Congressional District now chair of the House Appropriations Committee in the forthcoming 112th Congress.

Not relying on FEMA documentation of capability (there is little to rely upon) but open source materials on other agencies including the Department of Energy a mass and long term outage of power in a major metropolitan area--I would argue the top 500--would result in deaths and damages that would or should qualify this for major disaster status. Perhaps in the South and West, as both FRANCE and Russia have now experienced, heat wave deaths in unairconditioned shelter can be devastating to URBAN populations.

So suggesting that these situations be added to the planning scenarios and any statutory issues be addressed in the 112th Congress.

Winter now but yes with the winter solstice arriving summer now the solstice after next.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to all.

GAO Speak--DHS/FEMA flunk the QHSR

Interesting how the DOD employment of the Quaddrennial Review process as a management tool has now been mandated for most of the Executive Branch departments. GAO never actually uses the words flunk but in a recent report indicate that DHS met only 3 of 9 statutory taskings in its QHSR. Why is this important? Because several of the taskings are fundamental to DHS/FEMA missions and responsibilities.

While Craig Fugate appears to be fighting well above his weight in the Washington scene, including DHS, his embracing of web 2.0 is of great interest to me. Also his speeches. I did try to post comments three times on the new FEMA blog and they never appeared. I know that my frequent comments and suggestions on the DHS Leadership Journal also were rejected. And in fact that Journal also lapsed into silence after a passage of time. Is any of this important. Only that it suggests that "Not invented here" still rules as a culture in DHS/FEMA. Hoping I am wrong.

One key tasking in the QHSR was to FEMA (as helpfully pointed out by DHS to GAO) and that was forming an ongoing analysis of the capabilities and preparedness of the OFAs [other federal agencies] to conduct their roles in the National Response Framework [NRF]including preparedness metrics for documented roles and missions in that framework and areas where FEMA does not have knowledge or assets.

DHS in its reply to GAO argued over the status of one tasking and said it should be measured accomplished but notbably GAO did not change its report card. Then to further obfuscate, DHS argued that it could not tell GAO more because of its embargo on details of teh FY 2012 budget to be submitted in February after the STATE OF THE UNION address. Well that is not going to save DHS or FEMA since it looks like budget cutting and vicious hearings in the HOUSE under the new Republican Leadership will be well under way long before the expiration of the now expected 100 day extension of the CR for FY 2011 this week.

Not only was the QHSR not view as a management opportunity but now it appears that it mismanagement will be the tip of the spear in Congressional expression of its disatisfaction with DHS and FEMA. The devil as always is in the details.

It does look like DHS and FEMA are not skilled in the basics of dealing with the government as it is much less how their leadership views other branches of government and even the key players in the Executive Branch such as Treasury, DOD, OMB and others. Well these organizations can kill DHS dead as fast as any event so stay tuned.

ON another subject, DEA is looking more and more like it should have been incorporated into DHS and DHS is more and more getting into DEA issues. The only question is how is this situation viewed by the powers that be in DOJ and especially the AG--Eric Holderman?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Native Americans and EM

One of my Grandmothers taught on an Indian Reservation at the beginning of the last century. She also told tales of Indian relationships first in her childhood hometown of Sparta, Wisconsin and then in the Dakotas. Amazing woman and three time train tripper to DC to march as a sufferagette. Long married at that point.

Anyhow this is about the Native Americans and their continued problems and also American problems in EM.

First the background from a recent article that prompted this blog:

"According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Small Area Poverty and Income Estimates for 2009, the 10 U.S. counties with the highest percentages of their population living in poverty are:

1. Ziebach County, S.D. – 62 percent of residents in poverty

2. Crowley County, Colo. – 53 percent

3. Shannon County, S.D. – 51.6 percent

4. Holmes County, Miss. - 48.4 percent

5. Issaquena County, Miss. - 45.5 percent

6. Todd County, S.D. – 45.3 percent

7. Martin County, Ky. – 45 percent

8. East Carroll Parish, La. – 44.3 percent

9. Humphreys County, Miss. – 44.3 percent

10. Clay County, Ky – 43.3 percent

The national average was 14.4 percent (rounded).

Three of these counties (Ziebach, Shannon and Todd) are located largely within the Cheyenne River, Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations in South Dakota; four (Holmes, Issaquena, East Carroll and Humphreys) are in Mississippi and Louisiana, while two (Martin and Clay) contain towns in which coal mining still is or has been the major industry."

Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act the recognized tribes [recognized by the Department of Interior-Bureau of Indian Affairs] are treated as LOCAL GOVERNMENTS and funded through the grants that go to the STATES for disaster relief. I was never given a cut at this issue but I believe despite the regulation it is incorrect and because legally the Tribes when recognized have some sovereign status under US treaty, law, judicial decision and history they should be directly funded the same as the STATEs. Well my point is not disaster funding. Although I must state that I several times tried to get Directors of FEMA to sign off on creating a specifically dedicated Office for Native American Affairs and while getting former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado interested in the issue it never became policy or was established by law.

Many who have worked the issues relating to the fire hazards in the wildland/urban interface are well aware of the brave men and women who fight those fires, including Native Americans. My thought is why not give the Indian Nations more than casinos and a gambling basis that can undermine the dignity even of those who make money off of that business. For background see CASINO JACK. When I left the ARMY in 1970 and returned to DC about 7 firms specialized in Indian Affairs issues and none were huge. Today in DC over 50 law firms have some dedication to the Indian Tribes and mostly over gambling and casino issues.

I would provide training and education for willing tribal members in EM and initially many of those might even become DAE's in FEMAs disaster cadre. I doubt very many Native Americans are in that cadre now.

At one time the leading factory for dosimetry was located in Rolla, North Dakota and staffed and runned by Native Americans under GSA auspices. Today after heavy lobbying to take away that factory from the Native Americans dosimetery is now a totally private and totally inadquately run and managed enterprise.

The efforts on behalf of Native Americans was not without costs to FEMA staffers. Without a Native American office the issues involving that population ususally arose because of events or special concerns and backgrounds of FEMA permanent staff. Several who relied on Department of Interior designations, which is required by law, saw their careers adversely impacted because FEMA RD's or even higher punished them career wise for following the law.

It happens that Juliette Kayem, a Lebanese American, now runs the Intergovernmental Section of DHS that once was housed in FEMA for the whole department. It was moved to a direct report to the Secretary DHS by an enacted appropriation bill several years ago. I strongly recommend that Office create a subgroup of specialists on Indian Affairs and perhaps memory fails me but some statutory blessing to such an office now exists.

My point is one of my reoccurring themes. Just as the unemployed and disabled might be viewed as assets for EM and given training and education and perhaps even a small stipend for developing their EM skills I would also focus on the Native Americans and what they could bring to the EM table.

Perhaps this post derives from many visits as a child to Minnehaha Falls near Minneapolis.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Unintended Consequences

What has always been a subject of fascination for me is how decisions carefully made in Washington meaning both studied and analyzed with great care by a full range of interested parties can often have devastating secondary and tertiary impacts down the road where the proverbial "rubber" meets that road.

With most of Washington engaging in what I call "gunslinging" meaning no real care or attention to the fallout from government decisions the liklihood of adverse impacts are likely to grow not just incrementally but out of all proportion to the original decision makers intentions!

Two recent examples come to mind. Looks more and more like a formal downgrading of US debt given the further erosion of the fiscal outlook by the new about to be enacted tax bill. Obviously a much smaller example, but Ireland followed and attempted to comply with EU rules, was bailed out but only at enormous long term costs to the stability of Irish society, and now the bond ghouls and rating agencies are about to hammer Ireland for good. My suggestion of course is that they seek US STATEHOOD as their best out from the dalliance with the EU. So why mention Ireland. Because the future downgrading of US debt, the disasterous management of US oil and gas resources by the private sector which at least to some degree operates to exploit those resources and recieve the benefits but little of the long term costs environmental and otherwise is a first choice. I will always beleive that gas prices at the pump in the spring of 2008 which reached over $4 per galleon was a major understudies driver in the financial collapse as Americans came to realize how screwed they were by their choice of distant locations from jobs and their inability to move from their overpriced housing. Second, events are moving a fast pace internationally and almost any event could have drastic fallout for the US. Examples, fall of the Royal family in Saudi Arabia or the failure of the succession in Egypt and the radicalization of that countries leadership. Hey why do you think Chavez in Venzuela has purchased Russian air defence weaponary. And by the way many air defence missiles can also be used surface to surface.

My points consolidate over finances however. And with the extension of the Bush tax cuts the liklihood of a downgrade of US debt becomes even more likely. And "stagflation" looks like the policy choice of the FED as it continues to focus on inflation of on the books bank assets and ignore the plight of the average American.

And in a more restricted example, the HOMELAND SECURITY Department for the first time will face operations under a Continuing Resolution for the entirety of the year. The Omnibus Appropriation Bill incorporating the work of many committees and also their earmarks is not going to become law necessitating a CR for the rest of the year. That fact alone will result in some intended and unintended consequences and allow OMB among other factors to really screw up the Executive Branch. Why? Because OMB is the enforcer on CRs by making sure that the lowest possible expenditures (obligations) are made by Executive Branch components, even much lower than intended by the Congress. In the NIXON administration impoundments of appropriated funds were rules to violate appropriation mandates. But with a CR the OMB can practically impound all it wants without restriction by the way it apportions and allocates funds, a mandatory first step before departments and agencies can obligate funds.

And always remember, OMB is never really interested in the following: Homeland Security or civil security generally; disaster relief and recovery; mitigation and prevention and protection of the public's safety, the regulatory missions of the departments and agencies that are not so-called "independent regulatory agenices" whose budgets are technically approved by OMB but in reality offlimits to OMB restrictions. Those "independent regulatory agency" budgets in the big picture are so miniscule anyway that OMB does not get must fiscal discipline bang for the buck by tampering with them. And of course industry lobbyists constantly hammer regulatory agency budgets through Congress and OMB so that they can escape regulatory pressure.

All this adds up to katy bar the door for the next 9 and 1/2 months. A new majority in the House of Representatives will add to the confusion. The OBAMA administration will desperately need some supplemental money this fiscal year including war fighting and I fully expect that to be fully offset with budget cuts in current appropriations. In other words WASHINGTON is in a worse mess than any could have imagined due to the change in the majority in the HOUSE and the almost total incompetence of the OBAMA Administration. It is not going to be fun to watch as the STATES and their local governments public safety and EM budgets shrink drastically. Can the system be repaired? Yes but not very quickly or easily!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Heirarchy of EM needs--Parroting A. Maslow

Abraham Maslow is famous for his writings and study of the so-called heirarchy of Human Needs that underpin our humanity.

Increasinly I am supportive of the notion that Emergency Management is not a contrived subject or profession but in fact underlies much of organizational process that leads to various forms of governance. Some wit, perhaps Winston Churchill, once stated that "democracy is the worst form of government, except all others"! Well IMO [in my opinion] EM is the worst form of organizational response to crisis management and resilience (that includes elements of preparedness, planning, prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery) except all others. What alternative choices are there? Well one big one is a "military command and control" system that actually can prevent effective collaboration and cooperation, whether among individuals, NGO's, governments, or other spontaneously developing post-disaster organizations. Since over 90% of the nation-states have vested their EM function in their military-organizationally designed to inflict maximum organized violence on some other group or nation-state--I find that this approach is largely vested in a leaderships desire for control and resurrecting the status quo ante. These factors are not absent from EM but seem more likely not to dominate when the civil sector is dominate.

And always remember that I find it remarkable that the underlying good sense and American inventivness is what in reality caused EM to develop. The term of course goes back even institutionally to the FDR era when the Executive Offices of the WH had an EM section. None-the-less the term got its remarkable rebirth when the STATES in an unsuccessful effort to restructure the federal civil defense program operated from 1951-1994 under Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress as amended started to develop a new paradigm for disaster efforts. Just as the crucial failure of the STATES and their local governments had failed to see the need for civil defense and development and knowledge of radiological defense as part of their existing public safety sector, the clear and always present danger of natural hazards was driving the need for both enhanced effort and efficiency in the Public Safety arena and others. Thus it might well have been either the policing profession or the Fire Service which became the leader in EM and either or both still might given the numbers of personnel involved. But the incrased complexity of organizing for crisis management and response, and in particular recovery meant that the traditions and paradigms of those professions could not truly encompass EM adequately.

Now of course after 4 decades, given the developments both nationally and internationally in EM the increasing expertise and standards of the EM profession and its academic community indicates to me that over this century it will in fact become a wholly new field of human endeavor and likely to be adopted among many of the nation-states that now utilize a military model.

And tracking back to A. Maslov, exactly what is the pyramid or building block of EM that might be agreed upon. As always I can offer only a suggestion but others will decide and argue over its merits. I deliberately don't use the Maslow Heirarchy of needs but do recognize their relevance to this discussion.

So here is my approach.

First, underlying EM should be competence and technical knowledge and experience.

Second, should be organizational and governmental relationships that facilitate resilience (including planning, preparedness, prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery).

Third, would be public education of individuals and families to clearly give all an accurate vision of capability and systems that can be brought to bear in a crisis or disaster and what the limitations are on those capabilities and systems without further dedication of resources.

Fourth, a basic mobilization structure incuding personnel and logistics and other systems that will be necessarily employed when the planning basis or basic capabilities of the existing organizations and systems are proved inadquate to the tasks necessarily expanded by the incident or event beyond the planning basis and day to day capability and system.

Fifth, a way to integrate technical and scientific and engineering knowledge into EM on both an on-going basis and in an emergency with facilitation of the expertise of various professions and those with training and experience that might be of assistance. The medical profession should not be stove-piped for example but deliberate mechanisms created and operated so that that profession can operate comfortably in the EM realm, both independently and as advisors to political decision makers so that protective action recommendations and decisions are able to prevent the larger catastrophe possible by misinformation or lack of knowledge.

In summary perhaps, the system of EM must promote collaboration and cooperation so that the system is supportive of the best rsilience and while individual brilliance will from time to time appear and needs to be utilized, systems and processes must reflect the collective wisdom of those involved with the EM process in any crisis or disaster.

It is this last concept that shows that we have a long way to go. Just as Maslov recognized a heirarchy of needs I open debate here I hope on exactly what is necessary to establish priorities and systems and processes that reflect on the reality that the crisis or disaster does not end when food, water, shelter, emergency medical assistance, and even public safety has provided a secure environment. It is the totality of the effort and judgement needed based on all factors that makes EM so exciting and worthy an endeavor.

And to focus more closely on the real goals of Homeland Security not EM it is necessary that basic civil security is the mission of Homeland Security. This is a far different mission than the EM discipline and profession and organizations I have attempted to describe above. HS reflects only one of Maslov's needs--safety--and absolutely none of the others. EM represents all his higher order needs.

Check out for a detailed discussion of Maslov and his writings and teachings.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hidden Secrets of FEMA

Well this effort may not live up to expectations from the headline but here goes!
First, FEMA is a largely technophobic agency and refuses to provide much assistance to STATEs and their local governments on technology and communications issues. With two former FEMA Directors/Administrators speaking out on communications issues--specifically the auction of spectrum with opposing views one might ask for a FEMA position on the issue. None will be developed or submitted. In fact another dirty little secret is that few in FEMA, even in the Office of the Chief Counsel read the daily Federal Register and certainly seldom read federal register entries that might impact FEMA but are not published by FEMA. Even Presidential Executive Orders impacting FEMA are often dessiminated only by luck and seldom coherently discussed, implemented, and acted upon fully. Can they even read might be one question? Most are too busy to learn how their organization is being impacted by other parts of the federal government. Just in today's Federal Register the OPM publication of a new proposed definition of "National Security Position" will drastically impact FEMA but probably no one will realize it until OPM reg is final and too late.

Second! The failure of FEMA to view EM as a multidisciplinary activity and usually those with expertise are not rewarded or even asked for their input on FEMA policy development, implementation and operations. Example, look at the skill sets in the very expensive to operate and fund FEMA policy section under David Kaufman.
What do some of these people bring to the table and what successes of FEMA are based on that groups input and operations. Even the programs seldom include farout (being facetious) disciplines like water resource expertise,medicine, statistics, sesimology, geology, anthropology, physcology, economics to FEMA program operations or policy development. Proof is lack of significant numbers if any of personnel with these backgrounds.

Third! FEMA has consistently failed to submit legislation that is technical in nature and that would fix or assist problems of administrative feasiblity or even legal conumdrums. Basically FEMA is not a respected organization for legislative referral from DHS and OMB legislative types and certainly not technical organizations like the Department of Justice. In otherwords, FEMA is willing to spend hard hard earned taxpayer dollars without much expertise. Another approach would be to have FEMA list all of National Academy of Science, National Research Council, etc. reports on its programs, functions, and activities since its formation in 1979. Another view would be to ask the other federal technical agencies for their views on FEMA's contributions.

Fourth! Does FEMA truly believe in competition in procurement? Answer just look at FEMA contractors over the years and their "wins" for program contract support.

FIFTH! Does FEMA administer its programs, functions, and activities to make STATES and their local governments more resilient? NO and in fact FEMA administers most of its programs, functions, and activities in ways destructive to STATEs and their local government resilience and does so by its inadquate planning and evaluation of those efforts. The STATES and their local governments are seldom brought up short and to some degree FEMA is designed to cover up for STATES, and their local governments negiligence, even nonfeasance, and malfeasance.

SIXTH! Is FEMA an agency that respects legal niceties in its legal architecture? NO. Several reasons but chronis understaffing and underfunding of its legal support function is the key way. It has now broken up its litigation section and dispersed those lawyers to the direct support of the three divisions. This system is designed to politicize litigation and prohibit the training and skills necessary to support the most difficult and complex litigation. The litigation role of FEMA is in fact not independent but instead designed in reality to make sure that FEMA appointees and personnel understand that DOJ controls all FEMA litigation not the Chief Counsel. How many times has FEMA weighed in in writing on cases involving other departments and agencies with governmentwide impact. Not once since I retired in 1999 that I know of. And of course any case with identified government wide impact also impacts FEMA.

Seventh! Does FEMA its staff and appointees to develop their expertise through training and conferences and writing and teaching and thus forge national reputations in their fields, perhaps even international reputations? NO! This is viewed as not being loyal to FEMA management and policy.

Eight! Is the FIRE SERVICE a respected player and full member in the adminstration of FEMA programs, functions, or activities to the extent that profession might be considered useful? NO! Reason! The history of the FIRE SERVICE in FEMA and Washington not because they have nothing to offer. Example, has mitigation assitance ever been awarded for the fire hazard in the urban/wildland interface? Not to my knowledge. Climate change might really impact this issue.

NINE! The administration of overtime and comptime in FEMA has always been abused by the highest levels of FEMA and many of its DAE cadre. This waste is largely unpoliced and systems to police it are not in place.

Tenth! Why are so many FEMA people successful in other federal agencies when they depart from FEMA but were viewed as problem children in FEMA? Because basically FEMA has an authoritarian management style that is exactly what it does not need given its primary missions of collaboration and coopertaion intra-agency and inter-agency!

And of course this post is designed in the spirit that FEMA can do better. When personnel in FEMA wonder why other civil servants in other agencies have such a strong bias against FEMA they might start with the perception that FEMA always goes by the not-invented-here bias. Hey did you know some foreign countries are well ahead of FEMA on EM? Oh and did I mention that FEMA no longer has a library. Too many books in a library no doubt. Or maybe too many unread books. Having personnally given the FEMA library over $1000 worth of books (without deduction for taxes)that I thought were worth reading by all FEMA staff hoping that in breaking up the library they went somewhere useful.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Followup to December 7th post--Who are the beneficiaries of federal disaster relief?

My colleague Claire Rubin sent me a copy of a comment posted on the Recovery Diva blog and asked me to answer it. It was posted on her cross-reference to my blog and blog post on disaster assistance.

Here is the comment:

"It would be interesting to see the writer follow up with his recommendation and address how implementation could be achieved.

Some of the issues that jump out at me right up front is the desire to assist those with less. How would you provide an equitable program to those who are socially vulnerable verses [sic] those who are not, considering many disaster survivors are victims based on location verses social or economical status. Additionally how do you address those whose status change[s] based on the event and the new ramifications upon the population?

I am always apprehensive of the comment of “study and beefing up” used in the same sentence. Studies in their purest form either describe or explain a situation using generalization which can be replicated. Researcher study, recovery practioners use the information to create change but must weigh the idiosyncratic elements involved in every situation to render a solution.

By beefing up the duplication of benefits do you mean allowing more duplication or establishing stricter guidelines to identify more frequent occurrences of duplication and therefore take corrective action to minimize the occurrences?

It truly would be interesting for the state and local governments to ask FEMA to divulge statistical information about disaster victims. Most requests are denied because of the federal government’s requirement to protect client information.

By two tiered system I can only interpret that to mean you desire a two tiered Individual Assistance Program verses the current three program system of Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and Mitigation system, which can be activated by the President during a federally declared disaster?"

Well these are great questions and will try to be somewhat comprehensive in my response. Perhaps of interest is that I received several comments directly at one of my e-mail addresses focusing on the following sentences in my blog post.
"FEMA is not designed or equipped as a Social Service organization. Even at the highest levels of the agency few executives have a background in dealing with the large portion of the population that has nothing before the disaster and nothing afterwards. Thus, the disaster relief program is largely if not intentionally designed and delivered in a manner to support those who before the disaster had assets and not those who did not."

I am assuming that the most basic inquiry of the Recovery Diva blog commentator also focuses on this issue.

So here goes. First always remember that the federal disaster legislation, not just the Stafford Act, is almost deliberatly designed to confuse and obfuscate the underlying issues. Ever since discrimatory actions by STATE and their Local governments burdened the Hurricane Camille recovery in 1969, even during its Tropical Storm phase, the enforcement of equal protection and due process has been an underlying concern for those administering and receiving disaster relief or participating in the process. The fact that FEMA's focus on evacuation as a Protective Action never addressed the transportation dependent, nor did the STATEs and their local governments, is a leading example as known from Hurricane Katrina. Oddly of course evacuation of Manhattan for the transportation dependent is a leading example of non-feasance, and misfeasance but probably not malfeasance by all the levels of government involved. It would be hard to argue lack of financial resources for the transportation dependent in NYC. Some surely but some not so. My point though is that the disaster legislation is not currently designed to promote crisis management, disaster respone or disaster recovery. And it certainly does not focus on those without food or shelter or basic medical care prior to the incident or event. Why?

Basically the administration of disaster relief in FEMA and its predecessor organizations was and is viewed as a public works program, not based on science, engineering study or even any theory other than expenditure of public funds to replace the built environment predisaster. Deceased Senator William Proxmire if alive would have given it his Golden Fleece award as the Governments ATM. What is unfair about that view is that at least with federal disaster relief the normal opacity of federal programs, functions and activities is somewhat clearer to the average recipient. Either he/she gets assistance or does not. Same for the STATES and their local governments.
So the first thing to do is not the only thing but would be best. Restructure the legislation into a technical assistance chapter, a financial assistance chapter, a chapter dealing with STATE and their local governments inability or unwillingness to operate post event. See for example, EO 12657 which purports to deal with this problem in response to a real-world core melt nuclear power plant accident. A fourth chapter would be dedicated to dealing with pre-disaster levels of inadequate financial resource, medical care, food and housing. The federal FOOD STAMP program became law because 1/3 of all men reporting to the draft for entry into the Armed Services in 1940-41-42 were being rejected for malnutrion. So sometimes the labels and jurisdictions of Congressional committees get in the way. Another problem with the public works mentality is rebuild in the same hazardous zone. So all the mitigation programs, functions and activities should be in another chapter.

Underlying all of this effort is the fact that so much discretion is placed in the President of the US in the various pieces of enacted disaster legislation is that the above would make things easier but are not required. In fact what often occurs post-disaster is that FEMA and the STATES argue over cost shares and other financial aspects even while people suffer. Thus, in the past on this blog I have recommended across the board 100% federal funding for the first 30 or 60 days so that lives and property are not subject to bureacratic and financial debates.

Because it is the President's disaster relief program to date only President William Jefferson Clinton was willing to use the disaster program as a replacement for otherwise Congressionally denied economic stimulus. This led to its own problems, including raising expectations and undermining mitigation and creating what the insurance business call "moral hazard"!

Since a disaster incident or event is not just a "local event" when aggravated over time by repetition and failure to mitigate, it does represent a new "opportunity" to determine whether STATES and their local governments have through ignorance or intent allowed a situation to exist that could be modified post event. The problem is of course is that neither FEMA, its contractors, its leadership or staff is really organized to take advantage of the opportunity to be a change agent. Part of this is because FEMA is NOT a learning organization and often when the so-called rubber meets the road its programs are operated on staffer deep and thus the underfunded understaffed FEMA has to desperately hope others will be making wise decisions post-incident or event. This rarely happens. One example I will detail. At one time FEMA relied on HHS for Certificates of Need to determine whether hospitals would be replaced or reconstructed. That changed under Director Witt who personnally directed massive aid and reconstruction for numerous old and new hospitals. The problem of course is that large consolidated hospitals like Charity Hospital in NOLA no longer make sense. Instead a system of smaller more friendly in size and location medical service outlets make sense with more skilled facilities accessible through severe trauma operations. And of cours NGO's just don't do medical care in the US disaster system. ARC pulled out of this function after the death of many doctors and nurses in the 1918 epidemic.

So here are more specific examples of what might be done!

The Director of FEMA or Secretary HHS should ask the President or Director of OMB to task all Executive Branch agencies to identify generic "resilience" issues that might well be aggravated should the most likely hazard strike the
nations cities and counties and STATES and of course the same for the vulnerablility of federal assets. The military has invested over $30 B in what they call force protection since 9/11/01 and perhaps the civil sector could learn from that effort. Critical infrastructure protection is largely left to the federal government to sort out, except for regulated industries where seldom do the regulators worry about resilience.

With this data in hand, and note that there still is a remarkable concentration of poverty, lack of education (FEMA through Dept of ED builds a lot of schools--over 400 in Northridge were repaired or replaced--and STANFORD U got new graduate housing and a new UNDERGRAD library out of that same disaster), lack of food, lack of medical care has always been faced with an aggrevated situation where this has occurred. Aggravated of course by the disaster. So is this FEMA's problem to fix or someone elses? That is why the always permanent question for FEMA is it the SAFTEY NET if all other programs, functions, and activities have failed to make the disaster zone resilient prior to the disaster? Perhaps it is time for the President and Congress to answer this question. This will make possible the redesign of FEMA's disaster programs to deal with the answer whatever it is!

Short of that it is almost impossible to do the disaster relief redesign effort imbedded in my earlier post and the wonderful comment posted to the Recovery Diva. And thanks Claire for forwading the question and hoping this starts to answer a critical inquiry that should receive a more thoughful and knowledgeable answer than mine.

As to duplication of benefits this is rarely an issue with those without medical care, housing, or food prior to the incident or event. It is a problem in that systems and processes in FEMA largely do not exist to police this waste, fraud, and abuse. Nor do those in the insurance business faciitate policing of this restriction. Why? They directly and indirectly beneift from gaming the disaster efforts of the federal government and the disaster program directly in some cases and indirectly in others subsidizes that busines. Certainly, the NFIP also a disaster and land use program must always be understood to promote the subsidy of the insurance business.

The New Secretary of DHS--REPUBLICAN

Okay! The Secretary of DHS was relatively uninformed about the power plays and permanent positions of power and influence when she was appointed and confirmed as Secretary. Just review her entry. But she is about to learn some very hard lessons starting on the day of the opening of the 112th Congress with the Republicans in ascension in the House of Representatives. She has never had to face or deal with a potentially hostile HOUSE in her career.

The new Chairman of the full House of Representatives full Appropriations Committee, Hal Rogers, R. of KY, is the new Pope of the appropriations College of Cardinals. After 1982 when GAO (not the courts) properly determined that authorization provisions appearing in appropriations statutes had the full force and impact of law challenges to the power of the approriations committees were few and far between. NO longer due the authorizing committees have much bottom line impact on policy because while they can reshape the efforts of the Executive Branch in subtle ways they cannot self-initiate new federal programs, functions, or activities without appropriations committee support.

A good friend, Professor Peter Raven-Hansen, J.D. author and principle editor of the finest law school text on NATIONAL SECURITY LAW wrote an entire book on the appropriation/authorization dichotomy that is still useful to read even though points of order on the floor of the Senate and House are no longer raised if the Appropriations Committees authorize some new program, function, or activity of the Executive Branch or even if they end something previously authorized by not funding that effort. A good example is about to appear in the potential defunding of the Health Care Reform law as opposed to trying to repeal the same.

With respect to Homeland Security and FEMA however Congressman, soon to be Chairman Rogers, will go to almost any length to promote DHS and FEMA operations in his homestate of Kentucky. His pressure was effective in seeing millions laid out for an ice storm that did heavily impact Kentucky but notice if memory serves, ice storms are not a listed reason for Presidential disaster declarations under the Robert T. Stafford Act. Of course no party has the ability to challenge the exercise of discretion by the President in making such a declaration. So the President is truly above the law in the declaration process.

So expect more disaster declarations for Kentucky. Oddly, a largely fiscally conservative President, Ronald Reagan, declared for his first disaster, the explosion of hexane in the sewers of Louisville KY in 1981. Suit against Ralston Purina recovered some of the disaster outlays. While only 3 square blocks of Louisville sewers were destroyed the system was largely totally rebuilt with federal dollars after that event. Hey eat those Rice Chexs!

Anyhow it will be fun to watch Hal Rogers dual with the heads of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the House and the Homeland Security Committee. I would not bet against Congressman Rogers. He is a savy conservative.

The Blogs I follow!l

I thought I would again post the blogs that I find of interest and follow closely.

1. Sic Semper Tyrannis and principal poster is Col. Pat Lang, USA retired.
2. Professor Juan Cole's Informed Comment.
3. The blog Homeland Security Watch with excellent posters mostly professors at various government sponsored institutions.
4. Recovery Diva--devoted to disaster recovery issues and policies and run by my friend Claire B. Rubin.
5. Eric Holderman's Disaster Zone.
6. Gerald Baron's Crisis Blogger.

And of course from time to time I read others like Thomas PM Barnett's blog.

Also follow on-line the WAPO and NY Times. The first has become more and more irrelvant based on the issues of interest to me and its editorials and op-ed participants. Too bad since it once was a great newspaper. Must make the Bradley's quite sad. WAPO profits as most know come from the corrupt system of profit making education. Over 70% of annual income from Kaplan. Hey--money is the root of all evil.

So now you know!

Derivation of Vacation Lane Group and Blog

I get asked from time to time where I got the name for my nonprofit and blog! Easy. I went to Junior High School at 4100 Vacation Lane in Arlington Virginia for 7th, 8th, and 9th grade from 1954-1957. I always thought interesting to have a school built on VACATION LANE.

Then in November 1972 I bought a house on Vacation Lane in N. Arlington County, VA and lived there from time I and wife moved in until December 2003. Essentially 31 years. Both sons raised exclusively in that house.

Whenever I signed a check clerks often commented on how they wished they could live in a house on Vacation Lane many not knowing where it was. So in creating the nonprofit and blog thought I would use the name because I always liked it also. And of course I had many fond memories of that house, my family, and that location.

So now you know!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Congress- I miss Chris Shays!

Okay long gone the Republican from Connecticut wiped out in a recent election was a favorite of mine even though the other party for trying to and successfully grappling with Homeland Security and Emergency Management issues long before 9/11/01!
So thanks Chris for all the hard work. Like the deceased Tilly Fowler of Florida also a Republican Chris' thoughtful work should not be lost.

For one thing Chris was the father of the TOPOFF series of exercises. That series was designed so that senior officials that normally did not participate in Exerices at any level might be exposed to issues and given understanding of what possible scenarios they might face in both catastrophic and less than catastrophic situations. Like the long serving FIRE SERVICE Battalion Chief that has not faced a FULL BOX alarm recently or ever that goes catatonic when faced with one the need for senior officials to think about both the thinkable and unthinkable always will be a big problem for HS and EM leaderhsip. After all both those leaderships are supposed to be expert based on knowledge, training or experience or education and someone has to do the job. Oddly of course Mayor Guiliani was prepared as Mayor on 9/11/01 largely because unknown to most of the public the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice has long housed the emergency action types of that department. Guiliani was once in that Division and even led it for a while if my understanding is correct. Oddly Michael Chertoff also headed that division and I thought he would make a good choice to head DHS and in someways did so but largely failed. His immigration reform efforts killed by Senate Republicans I believe will resurface at some point.

Back to Chris Shays. One of the battles Chris lost in the formation of DHS was given that new department new standards setting and regulatory authority in its organic legislation. Specifically what became the Homeland Security Act of 2002, enacted in November 2002. NONE, repeat NONE of the above was given although in several instances it came close.

So in an effort to repair that deficiency Chris introduced the following which while not perfect was a step forward and hoping Peter King revives it in the 112th. So see the bill reproduced below and imagine its positive impact on HS/EM in the long haul.

National Preparedness Standards Act (Introduced in House)
HR 3227 IH
1st Session
H. R. 3227
To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish clearly defined standards and guidelines for Federal, State, and local government emergency preparedness and response capability, and for other purposes.
October 2, 2003
Mr. SHAYS (for himself, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. TURNER of Ohio, Mr. TIERNEY, Mr. MURPHY, and Mr. RUPPERSBERGER) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and in addition to the Select Committee on Homeland Security, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish clearly defined standards and guidelines for Federal, State, and local government emergency preparedness and response capability, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the `National Preparedness Standards Act'.
The Congress finds the following:
(1) The Second Report of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (also known as the Gilmore Commission) called for standards for emergency preparedness and response.
(2) The National Strategy for Homeland Security calls for the issuance of standards for emergency preparedness and response.
(3) The standard-setting activities called for in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-296) need to be accelerated and coordinated.
(4) Actual preparedness against the threat of weapons of mass destruction is not being enhanced sufficiently.
(5) The lack of standards for Federal, State, and local government emergency preparedness and response poses the risk of grant funds for emergency preparedness and response being wasted.
(a) IN GENERAL- Title V of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 311 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary, in consultation with other Federal agencies, State and local emergency responder agencies and officials, and standard-setting bodies from the emergency responder community, shall establish clearly defined standards and guidelines for Federal, State, and local government emergency preparedness and response capability, including for training, interoperable communication systems, and response equipment.
`(2) CONTENT- The Secretary shall design such standards to comply with the following:
`(A) FLEXIBILITY- The standards shall be sufficiently flexible to allow local government officials to set priorities based on their needs, while reaching nationally determined preparedness levels within a fixed time period.
`(B) MEASURABLE CAPABILITIES- The standards shall be designed to develop emergency preparedness and response capabilities that are measurable and subject to Federal audit.
`(1) determine for each State the minimum essential emergency preparedness and response capability that should be achieved by the State, including State and local government emergency preparedness and response agencies of the State; and
`(2) measure for each State progress made by State and local government emergency preparedness and response agencies--
`(A) in achieving the minimum essential capability determined for the State under paragraph (1); and
`(B) complying with standards issued by the Secretary under this section.
`(c) IMPROVEMENT OF COMPLIANCE WITH STANDARDS- To improve compliance with emergency preparedness and response capability standards under this section, the Secretary may--
`(1) coordinate and consolidate the development by the Federal Government of standards for Federal, State, and local government for Federal, State, and local government emergency preparedness and response capability, including for training, interoperable communication systems, and response equipment;
`(2) establish and coordinate an integrated capability for Federal, State, and local governments and emergency responders to plan for and address potential consequences of terrorism;
`(3) coordinate provision of Federal terrorism preparedness assistance to State, tribal, and local governments;
`(4) establish standards for a national, interoperable emergency communications and warning system; and
`(5) establish standards for training of first responders, and for equipment to be used by first responders, to respond to incidents of terrorism, including incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
`(d) CONSULTATION- In carrying out activities under this section, the Secretary shall consult with relevant private sector groups, including--
`(1) the National Fire Protection Association;
`(2) National Association of County and City Health Officials;
`(3) Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; and
`(4) American National Standards Institute.
`(e) ANNUAL REPORT- The Secretary shall, by not later than 9 months after the date of the enactment of this section and annually thereafter, report to the Congress, on a State-by-State basis, regarding--
`(1) progress achieved, by grant and training programs administered by the Department, in--
`(A) increasing State and local government terrorism preparedness; and
`(B) conforming such State and local government terrorism preparedness to applicable standards issued by Federal agencies;
`(2) when State and local government terrorism preparedness will conform to such standards; and
`(3) the amount of expenditures required for State and local government terrorism preparedness to conform to such standards.'.
(b) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 509 the following:
`Sec. 510. Emergency preparedness and response standards.'.
The Secretary of Homeland Security shall, pursuant to the amendment made by section 3, include in the fiscal year 2005 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security a minimum essential emergency preparedness and response capability standard with respect to weapons of mass destruction- and terrorism-related disaster equipment and training, separately--
(1) for metropolitan areas, expressed per 100,000 persons in a metropolitan area; and
(2) for rural areas.

Hearings should be held after introduction in the 112th Congress so that it could be refined but this would also make some understand why DHS and FEMA have accomplished so little since DHS opened its doors in March 2003!

And thanks again Chris wherever you are for all the concerted effort to forge better catastrophic preparedness and response in the US. Some of US noticed your efforts.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Disaster Relief--Who should be the beneficiaries?

Perhaps the question in the title of this post should seem simple to answer? Who qualifies for federal disaster relief and what is its basic design?

The first question first! Because a declaration by the President is purely discretionary and their is no waiver of sovereign immunity in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the system is largely immune with some exceptions from judicial review. The basic design is a federal grant program with grants going to the STATES and their local governments and others being sub-grantees. Certain missions beyond STATE and their local government capability become mission assigned to other federal departments and agencies and these are paid for out of the DRF [Disaster Relief Fund]!

The statutory design is that property insured or otherwise protected finanically will not receive federal disaster monies. This design is largely a failure because if FEMA kept good statistics and it does not, duplication of benefits would be shown as not significantly reducing outlays. Even the NFIP [National Flood Insurance Program] was designed to reduce disaster outlays. It also has failed to do that. The lure of free disaster relief to the political class is just too strong.

And of course the public assistance, and individual assistance categories make no real sense in the modern age and with a statutory bias in favor of restoration rather than resilience most of repaired or restored disaster properties will just be damaged again in the next cycle. It is only the very inadquate statistics of the NFIP that has revealed 30% or more of all NFIP paid claims going to the same structures, but the disaster program has a high degree of repetitive loss, largely unrealed due to inadquate records.

That said, with the deterioration of the economics of the average US citizen or resident the importance of federal disaster relief has grown. President William Jefferson Clinton following rejection of an economic stimulus program by Congress after his first election was rewarded by MOTHER NATURE. After 12 weeks of warning the large area of the UPPER MISSISSIPPI River and Missouri also had dramatic floods. This allowed federal disaster relief to become a direct and significant economic stimulus to that part of the country. It also revealed that the levee system started during the depression and significantly built with depression dollars and wage levels was pretty much a failure at protecting the cities, villages, and hamlets that historically developed because of the transportation facilitated by Ole Man River.

FEMA is not designed or equipped as a Social Service organization. Even at the highest levels of the agency few executives have a background in dealing with the large portion of the population that has nothing before the disaster and nothing afterwards. Thus, the disaster relief program is largely if not intentionally designed and delivered in a manner to support those who before the disaster had assets and not those who did not. This creates extremely odd distorions in how FEMA management perceives its role. And certainly since Katrina the old rivalry between the National Security STATE and its doyens and advocates and the domestic natural disaster scene has not only thrived but been largely won by the latter groups.

I have long advocated that the statuory scheme which mandates federal disaster relief as supplemental to STATE and their local governments capabilities just gives an incentive against real preparedness. That means disaster reform will now be driven largely by failed STATE and their LOCAL Governments efforts to fund on a largely regressive property tax. See previous post. FEWER and FEWER Americans have ownership of land or improved real estate as part of their wealth. The problem of course is that many who suffer disasters live in areas that are on a relatively long term basis, certainly longer than one human life, under constant threat.

Federal programs are never designed for efficiency or effectiveness but are just political solutions usally reactive to some perceived problem or real problem. Thus they are political in the ultimate sense. Get the problem away from US for the moment so that we can deal with other issues. Of course it is exactly this short term thinking in Congress and the Executive Branch that has now resulted in an accumulation of long term problems that need to be addressed.

I would therefore recommend the following: First split the disaster program into pieces. Those persons with little before the disaster would receive structured assistance, structured to try and increase their future resilience from disasters. Second, study and beefing up of the duplication of benefits and State Self-Insurance aspects of the current disaster program. Third, use block grants to the states for public assistance premised on their being used to promote resilience not restoration or reconstrution of an existing problem only to see it lost in time to the next disaster. And finally strict enforcement of the NFIP purchase requirement and administration of that requirement by persons who also have the duplication of benefits role and self-insurance role in the disaster program.

Only time will tell of course as to whether these measures will be enough. And too bad the decennial census did not have disaster questions and insurance questions on it. STATES and their local governments really need to conduct their own inquiries as to how many of their citizens have recieved federal disaster relief or a paid claim under the NFIP. Eyes might get opened at these results.

The bottom line is that at least a two tiered disaster program must be developed and developed fast or more Katrina's are in store.

The 2010 Census and HS/EM

This is shaping up as an incredibily important census for the US and not just because of redistricting of the House of Representatives based on it and the control of various state houses.

First numbers starting to pour out of a underfunded and understaffed Bureau of the Census located in the Department of Commerce.

One significant first finding--20-25% of all children in the US are HISPANIC. The implications for k-12 education of this statistic are enormous. And a graphic of all the school districts in the US majority HISPANIC would be interesting to see.

Of course this also has huge implications for the Armed Services of the US and the Service Academies. Increasingly likely that the overseas face of these forces will be brown not white or black. This may have deep cultural implications for the impact of US forces overseas.

Of course historically, despite William Techumsa Sherman of Civil War fame being an open advocate of the seizure of Cuba post Civil War and being rejected in that interest by U.S. Grant largely on the basis of language not race there are indicators that the fall of the Castro regime which I am predicting this decade will have major implications for the kind of nation the US will be at the end of this century. Not just the ownership of the Havanna MLB franchise will be at stake but how the US faces its foreign relations and future.

A nation-state of between 10-14 million people, Cuba which does not record race in its census activity, has by most estimates been up to 85% black in its racial makeup based on US racial sterotypes. And of course readers of my writings on this blog know I do not consider Barack Obama a black president and due to racial antipathy if he had married a white woman would never have been President. But astoundingly, since the fall of Cuba to Castro, not just the ratio of natural to articifical sugar has changed in the US from less than 10% artificial to over 90% articificial, but the flow of refugees from Cuba has been 85% white as most would define race in the US.

What this means of course is the Cubans living under Castro are not likely to welcome any efforts by the US or Cuban/Americans to retake and dominate the Cuban economy post Castro. What also now seems to be the prevailing view is that the return of Cuban/Americans to their country of origin or ancestry post Castro, but just the opposite. The desire of many Cubans to emigrate to the US permanently. I estimate that many of the over 1 million White Cubans will in fact desire to do just that.

Because of its focus on education and medical care, Cuba far outpunches its weight in the Western Hemisphere even without all those Che Guevera T-shirts and the Motorcycle Diaries. Che of course was a medical student turned revolutionary.

Arguably the Caribean Basin is one of the most interesting areas of the world today in its dynamics. Haiti will be lost permanently to US influence the moment an honest government takes over, or at least partially honest government. Land reform is the major problem for Haiti and where can they look to for guidance--CUBA. And many other nation-states in Central and S.America need land reform above all else.

I am not shocked at this because once ownership of housing in the US shakes out from the current crisis, and investment in housing is revealed as not being a solid one, this issue will perhaps raise its head again in the US as it did prior to FHA [Federal Housing Administration] in the 30's when few in the US owned their own house. This will be the fact of life prevailing again by mid-century.

So looking forwards to the Census take on housing in the US. Not just electrical and water supply but ownership. And of course as all know, many who think they own their house do not.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Governance and Bureacracy

Okay distilling a few findings from 34 years as a bureacrat.
Validation by research outside of personal experience will be left to others. I majored in History [emphasis British Empire in W. Hemispere] with minor in International Relations after almost 70 CH of hard science as Pre-MED! Had many political science and government courses also. How did I do this? Almost 200 CH in four years. Could have left a year early based on minimum standards but chose to delay to avoid being drafted. Delayed again of course for Law School but after abolition of all grad school deferrments had to take a standardized test to stay in last year. Then of course complete abolition of grad deferments later.

So here are some lessons learned with examples that might support my conclusions. And always remember I am completely a creature of the federal executive branch or the US Army thus my limitations.

First! Bureaucrats do first what they like to do and hopefully that effort meets managements needs.

Second! Bureacrats do what they have been trained, rewarded or inculturated to do again hopefully meeting management's needs.

Third: Bureacrats are incapable of establishing priorities for managers. Unfortunately, managers often cannot establish priorities either. The In-Box test used to be an important factor in Executive selection. Prioritize the contents of a presented inbox.

Fourth: Bureacrats would and do preferably interact with other bureacrats or contractor support rather than the public or Congress or their OIG or GAO or OMB or OPM.

Fifth: Bureacrats rarely share the vision of the task or mission of their managers. Again unfortunatly, few federal appointees and managers share their vision with their subordinates.

Sixth: Bureacrats have difficulty absorbing new technology and frequently need a kind and motivated and knowledgable colleague or subordinate to show them how to utilize the new technology. The higher you are in the federal bureacracy the less likely you are to be an early adopter. This even goes for the IT world.

Seventh: Any kind of innovation by a bureacrat will be substantially rejected unless that bureacrat can convince his/her superiors it was their (the superiors) idea. A collolary is that suggestions are rarely welcome from any subordinate.

Eight: When a manager or supervisor states on the record or off that "they" [the manager or supervisor] don't like to be surprised they mean it. There is almost never a good surprise. So bureacrats use the drip technique or the salami technique--surprises are revealed drip by drip or a slice at a time.

Ninth: Supervisors and managers almost never [even on pain of death] will reveal their position descriptions or performance evaluation ratings to subordinates.

Tenth: It is often easier to leave one job for another than attempt to reform a job previously performed to the satisfaction of management. Oddly this creates great opportunity since because of items 1-9 above this means any new job, task or mission has never been done before, is not seen as a priority or even possible and thus gives almost complete freedom to the person willing to take on that new job, mission, assignment. Perhaps it is the Briar Rabbit principle personified--"Please don't throw me into that briar patch"!

Okay some examples. All FEMA based.

1. SAR {Search and Rescue]--almost violently opposed by the bureacrats and the vision of a political appointee and some dedicated civil servants. Most were opposed. Including in a famous incident the effort of some very senior bureacrats to try and terminate FEMA SAR efforts 6 weeks prior to Oklahoma Bombing in 1995. Yea of course this blog is self serving. So as mentioned before when I was asked by the appointee if he should get a legal opinion supporting the program I said no but did show him specific statutory authorization in FEMA's legal authorities and mentioned and documented that in 1970 the federal civil defense effort had 200 FTE's devoted nation-wide to SAR and its implementation. Good work appointee--appointee one, bureacrats none. I orchestrated a brilliant and energetic young lawyer to help implement SAR [she was an all-American basketball player] to help and a very dedicated small staff led for years by a friend Mark Russo long gone from FEMA to HHS and a Presidential intern made this effort a force in disaster reponse. Mark remains to me an unsung hero and hope he is well and thriving whereever he is. A good example of the good being driven out by the bad in FEMA, or is the also another bureacratic rule.

2. Community Mental Health services--in the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 authorization existed for FDAA, FEMA's diaster predecessor in HUD to fund and operate community mental health activities post disaster. Unfortunately it called on NIMH at HHS to do this for FDAA. They had no interest. Unknowing to me as son of social worker I found this authority very interesting. What I did not know is that a legislative draftsman at HHS knowing of NIMH reluctance, and with my pushing from the FEMA end with others--got the legislation changed to allow any qualified mental health professional or organization to be mission assigned or act as subgrantee to the state to do this. When I retired in FEMA this had become a $400M annual average program. Two former nuns, one now deceased were instrumental in this development.

3. Another example is LOGISTICS in FEMA. Oddly a largely punitive reassignment of a career SES led to FEMA having its first really dedicated and professional effort in logistics. Largely driven by post-Hurricane Andrew lesson's learned that effort meagre though it was has started to pay off. Strangely, the transfer of a very skilled and dedicated civil servant who may still be in FEMA and was another gem--who for her sake I will only call Beverly--carried on after she was practically drummed out of SAR for doing a great job by those senior who hated SAR [and note the USFA was never much help in supporting SAR until long after it was successful] and the Logistics unit in FEMA really started to click. Logistics had been identified in FEMA and even by a President (Reagan in NSDD-47 [1982] as very important but hey even when the President commands does not mean it gets done. I think our current President now understands that takes a "grip" on the bureacracy that he and his WH does not have. Listen to the LBJ tapes if you want to see a master at enforcement and making sure his orders were carried out the way he wanted. Really quite scary.

Well enough of this post for now but will return in time to this subject.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chrony Capitalism? Chrony HS?

Well thank to Bernard Sanders, Socialist/Independent Representative of Vermont we now know better how an unelected FEDERAL RESERVE spent $12 Trillion rescuing its version of chrony capitalism. Imagine if the investment had been in productive sectors of the economy or even infrastructure. The shocking story did make me think however about HOMELAND SECURITY and DHS.

In reality, a cogent argument could be mounted that DHS and the Homeland Security effort was in fact also chrony capitalism with mostly large-scale DOD contractors getting the bulk of the DHS money without much to show for it except for the incomes and pensions of the corporate types leading that sector.

The most specific example I can give is the almost $60 Billion largely wasted by DHS on IT systems and its destruction of legacy systems (in some cases it has returned to those systems in desperation) and ineffective development and operation of new systems. Hey the vaunted FBI has also partnered in this nearly criminal activity in mishandling its IT systems development and operations.

So now that the picture is becoming clearly out of control then what specific examples of fixes could be adopted.

Here is one! Eliminate TSA and instead develop an Airport Access Control funded also by the travelers but in addition the users of Airports and their owners. This would also elimate the liklihood of ground mounted attacks agains aircraft while on the ground or awaiting takeoff. No longer long passneger lines in the terminal but instead total access control and inspection of cargo and luggage long before it reaches the actual terminal. This also makes for smaller targets for terrorists. And keeps the crowd control and potential for riots or other disturbances to a minimum. The objective of course is reducing the size of the population capable of being targeted at any one time. And of course the airline industry did the best thing of all the chrony capitalists--it got the taxpayer to pick up the total costs of its security burden. No even a single user fee for the service of airline security by TSA. And I estimate not only the total cost of TSA since its inception a direct subsidy to the airlines but almost another $60 Billion subsidy.

Of course their are smaller savings efforts that could be mounted and in retrospect decisions in DHS and FEMA that I would decry. We actually do not know the exact funding of the Hurricane Katrina response and recovery and who the beneficiaries of that "free" disaster relief are and were! This would be a good example for GAO or DHS/OIG to document so that better disaster policy could be made.

Another smaller example is the very very large contract for the NFIP for flood map revision given to Michael Baker/IBM over 5 years that really developed no NEW technical information as required by the National Flood Insurance Act (42 USC 4001 and following) but was just a reflection of better display of mapping data and improved contour intervals. Another example of what could be usefully documented now that NFIP reform is in the air. And by the way I submitted 25 NFIP reform proposals to the NFIP reform website.

Another example would be who benefits from the current system of TAC assistance contracts under the disaster program. Have they really provided the value engineering skills I hoped for in pushing these contracts over 20 years ago.

And how much waste, fraud, and abuse has occurred in the evolution of the FRP (Federal Response Plan) into the National Response Framework (NRF)! Perhaps this was the equivalent of chrony capitalism but for the HS/EM community including the STATES and their local governments.

Well much to be done and very very glad the largely ineffective reign of Congressman Thompson of Mississippi is ending as Chair of the Homeland Security Committee in the HOUSE. A rather unproductive Chairmanship in my opinion that actually hurt HS/EM in the long run.