Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Running FEMA-Choices?

Running FEMA is a tough day in day out job 24/7/365! Craig Fugate is an absentee landlord IMO given his speech and conference attendance level. So who in fact is making the tough nitty gritty decisions on FEMA's future and fighting the difficult and intense inter-agency battles that will determine FEMA's performance in the next catastrophe?

I don't have that answer but hoping that someone is doing the heavy lifting. The choice of the Administrator FEMA to being the outside conduit for FEMA policies and programs is an appropriate choice but only if those policies and programs adopted in place and fully implemented has been accomplished.

The closure of FEMA in the 90's due to budget disruption was castastrophic to FEMA morale largely because most of the agency had been told they were essential employees and had labored through inclement weather and other problems to keep FEMA running. But to support the Presidential decision to demonstrate maximum impact over 2/3 of the agency and field staff was sent home. Directions were given that no one furloughed was to conduct any federal decisionmaking or operations. It is my belief that many ignored this direction and did what they could to avoid total meltdown that would have taken months if not years to restore when they returned.

IMO the agency did not recover from that shutdown or at least had not done so as of my retirement on 10/1/1999. The enormous cost of the shutdown of the Executive Branch is the direct costs perhaps but I would argue that the past shutdown caused one of the most extensive revulsions against the federal Executive Branch and Congress since the Viet Nam war and its protests.

So let's assume that there is someone in FEMA now who understands exactly the direct and indirect impacts of the possible closure. Since 1980 theoretically each agency is supposed to have a plan as to its shut down. Personally I think all of these plans should be made public and explained for the choices made. After all isn't at its ultimate both COG and COOP and explanation for disruption and potentially the end of federal operations as we know them from various kinds of attacks?