Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reform of Federal Disaster Relief

Do you ever wonder why reform efforts never seem to encompass programs,functions, and activities under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100-707 supplementing in part, amending in part, and rescinding in part the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-288? The only federal grant program that can be triggered only by the President this statute seemingly like TOPSY in the novel just "grew"!

So what should be done to reform the statute?

1. Reorganize it to make understandable what is technical assistance availability and the conditions for it and when, how, where, when what kind of financial assistance is available!
2. Decide whether this is in fact the domestic civil crisis management statute and amend it accordingly to establish not only a civil crisis management system for large-scale domestic events but also a chain of command.
3. Ensure that the statute does not subsidize negligence on the part of the STATES and their LOCAL governments!
4. Ensure that the statute does not subsidize the insurance business or private entity business negligence.
5. Decide whether this is the ultimate all-hazards statute in its definitions and application or something else?
6. Prevent the STATES from enjoying A-87 overhead by adopting a flat rate for disaster operations by STATES as Grantees and their subgrantees their LOCAL Governments.
7. Decide whether in mission assigning activities to other federal components FEMA is acting on behalf of the President and can order performance and management criteria or whether it is fire and forget by FEMA on mission assignments and the assigned organization must police its own waste, fraud, and abuse?
8. Adopt a standard overhead rate for all mission assignments!
9. Ensure that resilence is built into disaster outlays using up-to-date scientific and technical information so that repetitive losses do not occur.
10. Mandate that disaster outlays are administered in accordance with OMB guidance on grants and the CASH MANAGEMENT IMPROVEMENT ACT.
11. Rewrite the act so that for the first 60 days obligations have 100% federal funding. After that period up to 18 months after declarations a tiered system be developed to deal with recovery operations. After 18 months FEMA is no longer to operate in declared disasters and instead must transfer to other federal programs the recovery responsibilties.
12. All technical response agencies have permanent liasions to the FEMA disaster operations and those cells will control the technical response activities of FEMA and their own personnel.
13. FEMA will colocate an appropriate liaison cell both in size and funding and experience to each STATE EOC and be ready for 24/7/365 operations. This staff will be supplemented by staff from each FEMA region depending on the level of activity and all FEMA regional personnel will be assigned as reserve cadre for each state in the region.
14. All FEMA personnel will be trained on DOD Civil Support Operations and doctrine and ensure that each governor or delegate has the same training. This FEMA and STATE training will be paid for by DOD.
15. FEMA will develop a metric or metrics for STATE capability and enforce that capability assessment by public disclosure with recommended fixes.
16. The loyalty oath provisions (that were determined to be UnConstitutional by DOJ when housed in Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress as amended will be repealed.
17. No STATE or their LOCAL governments will be required to have a personnel security clearance to participate in disaster activities. Any necessary need-to-know determinatons will be based on consultation with the Governor's or their delegates who will be appropriately cleared to participate in that decision.
18. No member of the National Guard can serve as a disaster reservists for FEMA unless in retired status.
19. No member of the public safety community can serve as a disaster reservist unless in retired status.
20. All DHS employees will be given basic training in disaster operations. This includes all politically appointed personnel.
21. All restoration of Water Resource Projects by FEMA, STATES, or their LOCAL Governments will comply with the Principles and Standards for Water Resource projects.
22. The USACOE and the NG shall be given the civil crisis response and disaster relief mission when DOD is involved and they will become direct reports for their activity to NORTHCOM. NORTHCOM will make specific arrangements for this transfer. Additionally when the US Coast Guard is transferred in time of war to DOD it shall be a direct report to NORTHCOM.
23. All retired military will be required to serve a period of 5 years as FEMA disaster cadre upon completion of any active duty, reserve duty, or other completion of their military operations first.
24. The OFFICE OF FOREIGN DISASTER ASSISTANCE will have a permanent liaison to FEMA and vice versa. FEMA will be prepared to provide technical assistance to OFDA subject to reimbursement.
25. In NO EVENT will emergency law enforcement operations by other federal agencies or components be authorized under the Stafford Act. These programs, functions,and activities will all be separately authorized and funded. FEMA will not fund activities under 28 CFR Part 65.
26. FEMA will reimburse the NG for all humanitarian and disaster missions when operating under Title 32 in declared disasters and emergencies.
27. FEMA will reimburse other components of DHS for their assistance during declared disasters and emergencies.
28. FEMA will encourage through stipends and grants, Native Americans in recognized tribes to become proficient in disaster response and recovery and disaster cadre to supplement FEMA staffing arrangements.
29. FEMA will never reimburse DOD for use of active forces of the Armed Services unless the decision is made with Presidential approval.
30. No FEMA employee or appointee may be a member of the active Reserve or on active duty at the time of their FEMA service.

Well this might make a good start on disaster reform!