Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Implementing the concept of RESILIENCE in FEMA

Today I listened to the EM Forum ably moderated by Avagene Moore who has lived throughout the modern era of the growth of EM. She moderated a presentation by the Speaker Paulette Ashikof who apparently works in the Directorate of National Preparedness for Corey Gruber. The presentation was completely lacking in specifics and attempted to use the FORUM to provide an entree for gathering support for the notion of community resilience. Actually I am a supporter of that concept and a far better presentation was accomplished by FEMA Chief of Staff on the Forum last summer.

It is interesting to note that based on my inferior knowledge I decided to try and figure out who was Paulette's boss in FEMA. It does appear to be Corey Gruber. There is a FEMA bio of him available on Wikipedia. Oddly it does not mention his time in the Department of Justice Office of Domestic Preparedness that was transferred into DHS on March 1, 2003. That office developed out of the so called Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, Title XIV of the 1996 Defense Authorization bill. Because of the ambitions of then Senator Judd Gregg the Judiciary Committee was extremely interested into laying claim to much of the jurisdiction of what became the DHS. Corey Gruber during the time that a totally independent Preparedness Directorate existed from its orgins in Michael Chertoff's 2SR organizational changes announced prior to Katrina and finalized in November 2005 after Katrina, and then reversed by the PKEMA 2006 effective March 31, 2007, meant that Corey's time as an Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Preparedness under George Foresman lasted about 15 months. Apparently Corey is a brilliant man and fierce bureacratic infighter. But since it states in the FEMA bio that he runs a staff of 300 that is not an insignificant number of personnel for his unit. Much larger than any single preparedness unit in the time FEMA was independent no matter how you cut it. What I found of interest is that many of the most talented people in the former Preparedness Director which Corey ran with George Foresman, even those who had once been in FEMA, choose to remain behind in the newly created by PKEMA National Protection and Programs Directorate now run by RAND BEERS.

It will be of great interest to see if the historic roots of resilience are identified and the discussion of community resilience that goes back all the way to the 40's and the federal civil defense efforts is studied for its lessons. One of the lessons was that community preparedness required a consistent message. That is not what I learned today. See for example the 1948 Hopley Report that is accessible on the home page of this blog.

I would have been happy if Paulette had flatly stated as Jason McNamara did last summer that "resilience" encompasses all the other paradigms of preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. That would indicate the concept has some "resilience" in FEMA.

So good luck Corey and Paulette and you might also read the CSIS report edited by AMANDA DORY in 2003 entitled "CIVIL SECURITY" that also discussed community resilience in its historic context.

I also note that the NAS [National Academy of Science] has released a 142 pp report:
Building Community Disaster Resilience through Private-Public Collaboration (Free Summary)
The entire report may be downloaded free from that site.

I believe that document would be of assistance to Corey and Paulette also.