Saturday, February 12, 2011

Leadership of the NFIP

A story has appeared in the MSM [main stream media] that a former DC Insurance Commissioner/regulator had been vetted by the Obama Adminstration for leading the NFIP in FEMA as head of its Mitigation and Insurance operation. It may be the reverse but you get the idea. Apparently he did not clear on grounds of Conflicts of Interests with prior clients.

Probably because the Banking Committees rule on the NFIP and oversight and confirmation of the appointee leading the NFIP is with the Senate Committee dealing with Finance and Banking and some other items since the first Administrator of FIA George K. Bernstein, a former Deputy in the New York Insurance Department, became Federal Insurance Administrator a person with insurance background has run the program. Perhaps with the rejection of this new nominee who apparently had represented clients that were involved with the WYO program the WH was not willing to give him a waiver although the DHS Ethics Officer was willing to do so.

But here is a new suggestion and more appropriate leader for what is a LAND USE program not really an insurance program. Perhaps one of the STATE FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT leaders or even a conservationist/environmentalist who understands land use and mitigation. After all the insurance aspects are not rocket science it is the land use impacts and mitigation impacts of the program and their tradeoffs and cost benefits that should be more difficult to understand for normal insurance types that come into run the program.

I can remember explaining [painfully often] to the attorneys that worked for me and the various FEMA GC's when I ran the NFIP litigation that I would manage it to support the floodplain aspects of the program, not as a normal insurance claims practice. A couple of them understood but most did not. And in particular few understood that the subrogation program I ran while running the litigation for the NFIP was a form of enforcement of flood plain management.

It happens that the best floodplain management lawyer ever in FEMA is tan, rested, and ready and in retirement from a highpaying corporate counsel position and the guy who personally drafted the Coastal Zone Barrier Island Act! Why not someone like him? Time for the NFIP to be run by someone who understands and not someone with an insurance background who does not understand the stakes of having the NFIP succeed or how it operates in the context of ensuring that the natural and beneficial impacts of the floodplain are preserved. That individual left FEMA to work on the HILL for a HOUSE Committee and certainly understnds the politics of the program very well. Good Luck to you John but time to get back to the real work of helping the country. I am not being facetious in this post. You can also still see the CAPS play occassionally. After 40 years time for an environmentally savy person to prevent the NFIP from becoming another government bailout program. After all it was originally concieved as an effort to reduce federal disaster outlays. Please Mr. President do something different from the past and do what is needed.