Friday, February 4, 2011

Insight (perhaps) Into FEMA History

This will obviously be sort of a strange post. A few years ago Someone I knew not a friend indicated he was writing a book or article and he asked for some input in a very general way! The book I believe has not yet been published but was scheduled for publication this most recent January. The book was to be a personal memoire. I talked in my note about how FEMA culture had developed from the beginning. This was my input:

"Well that is what I do as I am a non-profit corp. I do have some suggestions about the tone of your book which of course you are free to reject or whatever. The working title is fine. What I think will make it a best seller and reflect well on you is that you sat and led at the junction of the technical and the political. This is a very difficult junction to manage. Again my suggestion is that you review closely the verbiage below which was in Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978, which is codified at 5 US Code Section 901 in a note. I never really focused on the inherent conflict created by this paragraph by what I view as an almost incompetent President James Earl Carter and his OMB Reorganization Project team. That team consisted of people who really did not have the depth they needed for what they were doing. The principals were Nye Stevens, later an office director at GAO (he was the best), Mike Springer--who tried desperately to become the Associate Director for Administration or Comptroller of FEMA (those positionsnow reflected in the MISSION SUPPORT directorate). William W.F.Jones, who had come to OMB from the STATE of N.J, very competent administratively but tone deaf politically, Robert Volland from FDAA, became the first FEMA Comptroller; George W. Jett, who became the first General Counsel of FEMA and was briefly the GC at DCPA after working for Senator Roth on the Hill, and finally Dave McLaughlin, PhD in education who had led the Battle Creek Civil Defense College before there was an Emmittsburg FEMA NETC. These people all became the civil servants leading FEMA and all had significant strengths but also problems in their competencies. I think you know that FEMA despite the view of many that Witt led the Golden Age was not really that. He was very politically astute, and Clinton understood that FEMA could be used as an ATM and did for economic recovery and despite the WTC bombing in 1993 and FEMA participation in response neither understood nor wanted the national security mission of FEMA.

You know I am basically a fuzzy headed liberal but I point out that when FEMA was set up over 250 people had PhD's or JD's. The day I left it had less than 50! Many working out of area. How do I know this--in an effort to cut down expert witness fees I had the Personnel (which had 17 different heads appointed or acting in my 20 years) do a specialized computer search of records plus some manual searches.
Anyhow check out the language below!

I have taken the position in my writing that the Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 was totally superseded by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Also when describing the Stafford Act I use this description which I know does not follow legal etiquette:

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 100-707) amends in part, supersedes in part, and supplements in part the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288)!"

So the comment stands for what it is worth.