Friday, August 26, 2011

NFIP Reform Suggestion!

Here is suggestion that many might disagree with who are in favor of strong effective floodplain management. Yet it is based on the long run which is the way the NFIP should be evaluated. 42 years still too short a period of record to determine the programs efficacy in accomplishing its purposes. And if flood walls in NOLA had not collapsed due to federal, States and their local governments negligence the NFIP would not be so far in debt. So here is the proposal:

The NFIP is composed of several statutes all codified at 42 USC Section 4001 and following. All are part of Chapter 50 of TITLE 42 captioned "National Flood Insurance"!

Current section 4023 reads as follows:

"No new flood insurance coverage shall be provided under this Chapter for any property which the Director finds State or local zoning authority, or other authorized public body, to be in violation of STATE or local laws, regulations, or ordinances which are intended to discourage or otherwise restrict land development or occupancy in floodprone areas"

Here is my suggested rewrite (and note this could be done administratively by delegation of NFIP authority to each Governor thereby avoiding a need for legislation):


Over time FEMA and the states would be able to determine what states and their local governments are worthy of federal subsidy for existing structures in return for restrictions on future hazardous development.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Draft National Preparedness goal in RESPONSE to PPD-8!

Okay folks how did FEMA come up with this metric:

"To fully establish the core capability requirements for the nation in both response and 21 recovery, we need to focus beyond any single threat or hazard. We must recognize that the complex environment of disasters includes cascading events that combined can stress the abilities of our Nation. Therefore, in order to ensure that these core capabilities can be delivered / performed in the shortest possible time and under all conditions, a set of planning factors can be used to create a composite or “meta-scenario” that illustrates the anticipated stresses on our core capabilities. The numbers identified in the meta-scenario were derived from modeling efforts for multiple high impact incidents and reviewing using the strategic national risk assessment. The following summarizes the meta-scenario that will be used to drive national-level response and 29 recovery planning efforts:
There is a no-notice event impacting a population of seven million within a 25 thousand square mile area. The impacted area includes several states across multiple regions. Severe damage is projected to critical infrastructure including essential transportation infrastructure. Ingress and egress options are severely limited. The projected number of fatalities is 195,000 during the initial hours of the event. It is projected that 265,000 survivors will require emergency medical attention. At least 25 percent of the impacted population will require mass care, emergency sheltering, and housing assistance."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 10 Most Important Management Calls IN FEMA History!

I am going to utilize the period from April 1, 1979 to September 1, 2011 for this listing even though there legally was no FEMA between March 1,2003 and March 31, 2007.

So here are my top ten management calls in all of FEMA history!

1. John Macy's insistence that FEMA appointees and civil servants should be generalists and not expert in some field.

2. The failure of Louis O. Guiffrida to document publically that most of his new Preparedness and Civil Defense initiatives stemmed from Carter classified directives.

3. Director Guiffrida's decision to refer to DOJ a law suit over flood plain management against NOLA, and Jefferson and St. Bernard Parishes in Louisian in 1981.

4. Director Guiffrida's cooperation in establishing the Emergency Mobilization Preparedness Board and helping NSC issue NSDD-47 (1982)!

5. Director Julius Becton's not caving to NRC when his Region II staff found the first Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant exercise inadequate for FEMA to give a reasonable assurance finding to LILCO and the NRC and defending that decision in the lengthiest adminstrative law proceeding in NRC history.

6. Director Julius Becton ordering and assisting in establishing and completion of the First and Last FEMA Capability Assessment (1988)!

7. Grant Peterson taking the Federal Response Plan for Response to a Catastrophic Earthquake(adopted 1987) and turning it into the FEDERAL RESPONSE Plan (adopted 1992)over the opposition of his senior career civil servants!

8. Director Wallace B. Stinckney's decision to ask President George H.W. Bush to relieve him of any role as PFO in Hurricane Andrew (1992).

9. Director James Lee Witt's decision to remove the personnel security clearances from over 40% of FEMA staff.

10. Director Joseph Allbaugh's decision to allow the George W. Bush administration to reduce FEMA staff by over 60%!

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Deadly Indifference" book by Michael Brown and Ted Scharz (2011)

A Book Review and Critique of

DEADLY INDIFFERENCE-The Perfect (Political) Storm-Hurricane Katrina, the Bush White House and Beyond (219 pp)

By Michael D. Brown and Ted Schwarz

Published by Taylor Trade Publishing (2011)
ISBN 978-1-58979-485-6 (cloth)
ISBN 978-1-58979-486-3 (electronic)

An interesting selection of title by former Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response of the Department of Homeland Security Michael D. Brown. Mr. Brown also served as the General Counsel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Deputy Director of FEMA before its statutory abolition by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 effective for that purpose on March 1, 2003, when Mr. Brown became Under Secretary. In those positions Mr. Brown served as a Presidential appointee of President George W. Bush.

The book serves as documentation in part and apologia in part for the learning curve experienced by Mr. Brown ending shortly after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.

Disclosure: I worked at FEMA from September 10, 1979 until October 1, 1999. From April 1, 1979 until September 10, 1979 I ran FEMA’s litigation under IAA between FEMA and HUD. I never worked for Mr. Brown.

Even now Mr. Brown is somewhat ambivalent about both his role and those he served during his time in office. He does give substantial evidence that he was at least as qualified as some other FEMA General Counsels, Deputy Directors, and Under Secretaries in DHS. Personally I believe he was qualified to lead FEMA during his time in office. Many would disagree with that conclusion but my standards may be different because I have seen so many totally incompetent and some corrupt political appointees during over 30 years of federal service. The problem of course is that high level federal jobs are not easy jobs and the learning curve for all is very steep. Leadership of the nation’s premier organization to response and recovery from disasters given its statutory and other parameters is one of the toughest. Thus, even those with the best of preparation, intention, high intellect and motivation may well fail and often have. I have posted notes on each FEMA Director on my blog at Vacation Lane Blog and that process is not yet complete.

The first failure of Mr. Brown was his lack of understanding of the aphorism “Beware the Trust of Princes” because ultimately it was those above Mr. Brown not below that undercut his potential success during Hurricane Katrina. Second, was his failure to understand the USACOE (Corps of Engineers) and its long history in the NOLA area and the problems it solved and created.
Mr. Brown should have been expert on NOLA because of what some may find unusual. FEMA had with the cooperation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against two Parishes in the NOLA area in 1981. It had referred NOLA (when NOLA referred to it means Orleans Parish) itself to DOJ at the same time. DOJ declined to file suit against NOLA when USACOE argued successfully that its operations in the New Orleans District would not bear scrutiny and becoming entangled in a civil lawsuit where extensive disclosure and discovery of its problems would not help its long term efforts in that area. I would argue that USACOE which is largely a contractor led operation with a very thin military and civilian overlay was actually corrupt as was the City of New Orleans government generally, as well as various Levee Districts, and the State of Louisiana itself.

The bottom line on that lawsuit was a formal consent order susceptible to long term enforcement and oversight and some monetary recovery as well as informal accounting to the defendants by me that in meeting over 40 opposing lawyers with a single DOJ attorney now deceased I warned that unless the defendants and NOLA area generally treated their flood hazards with the almost military precision of the Dutch they would be under water. That is pretty much what happened. One specific suggestion we made public was that all pumping stations in the NOLA area have their electric standby generators fueled and operated on the roof tops of the building housing them. As do the Dutch which are the source of most of the large pumps in the NOLA area.

But of course I am also sure that few if any in FEMA OGC understood that past effort when Mr. Brown arrived as General Counsel in spring 2001. Nor has FEMA had an active subrogation effort with large cases since I left as the Associate General Counsel for Litigation in 1986. That transfer of position by me was to assist in making sure that the National Security portfolio of FEMA and its REPP (Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program) did not end FEMA’s existence as an independent agency.

So first of all I would argue that given FEMA’s history substantive knowledge of NOLA and Louisiana in FEMA’s programs was something that Mr. Brown should have known cold. It is certainly true that one of the most knowledgeable Congressional delegations about FEMA was that from Louisiana and the NFIP might have been the key federal program for those who have property protected by insurance in all of Louisiana. And ultimately FEMA lives and dies politically by its Gulf of Mexico coastal states. In fact it largely acts as a special subsidy to those states for their negligence in locating properties in hazardous areas and allowing improper and inappropriate construction.

Second, Mr. Brown probably should have left when Joseph Allbaugh departed from the government when he realized he would no longer be what is called a direct report to the President. No FEMA Director without a personal history with the current President has been a total success in their job. This has been documented overtime even in academic analysis. Mr. Brown had no personal history with the President.

Third, FEMA had attrited in both staff and funding during the years from 2001 to 2005 with its Deputy former Admiral Harvey Johnson testifying under oath that one day before Katrina made landfall FEMA had less than 1500 permanent full time staff on board.
Under it prior peak staffing it had close to 3700 permanent full time staff and today has almost 5000. It also has a large cadre of temporary employees under various labels. The largest being called DAEs (Disaster Assistance Employees).

Mr. Brown lays out his relations with two DHS Secretaries, first Tom Ridge (former Governor of Pennsylvania) and then Michael Chertoff. Both are intelligent men with very different backgrounds. Secretary Chertoff had a brilliant history in the criminal justice system before his time at DHS. Unfortunately, the skills of Ridge and Chertoff were not those needed for handling large scale catastrophic events, nor were Mr. Brown. And certainly the President himself was not up to a domestic crisis the size and scope of Hurricane Katrina. In President Bush’s home state of TEXAS the National Guard and the USACOE handle most of the disaster work and has quite a weak EM (emergency management) regime. That regime is what former Governor Bush and Joseph Allbaugh were used to from their time in TEXAS. During his father’s administration when FEMA suffered through Hurricane Hugo (1989) and the Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989) and Hurricane Andrew (1982) FEMA’s performance was always somewhat questionable. And in fact Bush’s Vice President hated FEMA and had encouraged its abolition that could well have occurred if George H.W. Bush had won the fall 1992 election. And it should be noted that 95% of all nation-states use their military for disaster response and recovery. This of course is largely to ensure that existing power structures are maintained including political leadership. And these issues impact a civilian FEMA as documented in DEADLY INDIFFERENCE.

I hope that Mr. Brown had read the NAPA study published in February 1993 entitled “Coping with Catastrophe” because it nailed many of the issues addressed by Mr. Brown in his book. I have long recommended that a copy be given to each new FEMA employee whether full time or temporary followed by Q&A sessions on its contents and recommendations.

It must always be remembered that federal programs are political solutions to perceived or actual problems and are not conceived with efficiency and effectiveness as their primary object. FEMA is no exception in this regards.

So finally what Mr. Brown faced is in some cases generations of neglect or waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs operated on the coast of the GOM but also in the STATES and their local governments. Even now the Louisiana delegation tries to get FEMA to make up for the failures of government in the NOLA area and other parts of the state.

And Mr. Brown apparently in his entire time in FEMA did nothing to resolve officially whether FEMA is just a cooperative and collaborative agency that hands out money and information to all or the federal systems ultimate “safety net” that must do it all when all others fail.

My bottom line is that this book should be read by all and all should draw their own conclusions.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Anniversary of Death of Jerry Strope

Death Notice for Walmer “Jerry” Strope of Mount Holly Virginia

“Jerry” passed quietly on August 15, 2010 in Richmond Virginia at MCV Hospital. A long time resident of Glebe Harbor, Westmoreland County, VA, Jerry was actively engaged in research and writing on radiological issues throughout the last decades of his life. A full scholarship graduate of the leading naval architecture and engineering college in the US, the WEBB INSTITUTE in New York City, Jerry received his degree at the outbreak of WWII and was immediately employed by the Department of the Navy as a civilian naval Architect and engineer, Jerry during WWII held various responsible positions in the Department of the Navy and eventually became the head of Radiological Defense research for the US Navy. After leaving the Department of the Navy, Jerry was further employed by the Department of Defense as head of research for the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization, and independent agency housed in the Department of Defense, Jerry led efforts to conduct research and defenses for the civilian population of the United States for those organizations. Thus, Jerry’s efforts led to the adoption not only of many specific civil defense policies but his research as an individual and as an administrator led to many breakthroughs in the knowledge of mankind on radiological and health physics impacts on humans and specific approaches to limiting the impacts should a nuclear strategic exchange have occurred. Is specific knowledge, innovations in research, research design and administration helped to protect the national security of the United States throughout the Cold War.
Jerry was also a respected technical advisor to many Congressional Committees throughout his life and the Committee On the President Danger headed and established by the Honorable Paul Nitze, and remained influential throughout his life for his technical knowledge. After leaving the federal government in the late 1960’s he became a principal in the Center For Planning and Research, Inc. of Palo Alto California and Fairfax Virginia. That organization acted as the Federally Funded Research and Development Center for the federal civil defense program which existed from 1950 to 1994 pursuant to Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress.
Throughout the decades of the 1980’s, and 90’s Jerry wrote a newsletter and was President of the American Strategic Defense Association which was an influential voice in both nuclear strategic policy and defense and constantly made its readers aware of emerging threats.
The impact of “Jerry” Walmer Strope on the radiological defense and National Security of the United States cannot be overemphasized. He was close personal friends with the giants of the development of the atomic age, including Jerome Wigner and Edward Teller.


The Federal Response Plan that existed from May 1992 until replaced by the National Response Plan (since warped into the NRF) still does not allow the USA to leverage all its resources and respond to catastrophic situations. Where was this issue first identified officially and why has it not been fixed?


United States
General Accounting Office
Washington, D.C. 20548
Resources, Community, and
Economic Development Division
July 23, 1993
Congressional Requesters

The nation's management of catastrophic disasters was intensely criticized
after Hurricane Andrew leveled much of South Florida and Hurricane Iniki
destroyed much of the Hawaiian island of Kauai in 1992. Prior to these
storms, other major disasters, such as Hurricane Hugo and the Loma
Prieta earthquake in 1989, also generated intense criticism of the federal
response effort. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the
lead federal agency for disaster management, responds to many smaller
natural disasters every year without extensive public scrutiny. Unlike the
bulk of the disasters requiring FEMA to respond, however, catastrophic
disasters overwhelm the ability of state, local, and voluntary agencies to
adequately provide victims with essential services, such as food and water,
within 12 to 24 hours. The response to Hurricane Andrew raised doubts
about whether FEMA is capable of responding to catastrophic disasters and
whether it had learned any lessons from its responses to Hurricane Hugo
and the Lorna Prieta earthquake.
Congressional requesters asked us to examine the adequacy of the federal
strategy for responding to catastrophic disasters and to develop solutions
for improving it Since January of this year, we have presented the results
of our work at hearings before five Senate and House Committees and
Subcommittees.l This report summarizes our analyses, conclusions,
recommendations, and matters for congressional consideration presented
at those hearings."

So why has this not been fixed by the powers that be? Because they all hope it does not happen on their watch! Get to work ALL!

For a companion post go to

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Federal Response To Hurricane Katrina-PKEMRA 2006

It has been suggested that the report of the
White House--Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina--underlies Congressional efforts leading to enactment of the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. That statute became effective fully on March 31, 2007. It also led to the departure of Under Secretary George Foresman from DHS.

Chapter 5 of the report discusses in detail critical challenges derived from the federal response and is the key portion of the document concerning lessons learned.

Here is a Chapter 5 extract:

Hurricane Katrina Critical Challenges
1. National Preparedness
2. Integrated Use of Military Capabilities
3. Communications
4. Logistics and Evacuations
5. Search and Rescue
6. Public Safety and Security
7. Public Health and Medical Support
8. Human Services
9. Mass Care and Housing
10. Public Communications
11. Critical Infrastructure and Impact Assessment
12. Environmental Hazards and Debris Removal
13. Foreign Assistance
14. Non-Governmental Aid
15. Training, Exercises, and Lessons Learned
16. Homeland Security Professional Development
and Education
17. Citizen and Community Preparedness


This government will learn the lessons of Hurricane Katrina. We are going to review every action and make necessary changes so that we are better prepared for any challenge of nature, or act of evil men, that could
threaten our people.
—President George W. Bush, September 15, 2005

The preceding chapters described the dynamics of the response to Hurricane Katrina. While there were numerous stories of great professionalism, courage, and compassion by Americans from all walks of life, our task here is to identify the critical challenges that undermined and prevented a more efficient and effective Federal response. In short, what were the key failures during the Federal response to
Hurricane Katrina."

I would argue that PKEMRA 2006 came nowhere near to dealing with the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina federal efforts. So that is the first disconnect. The second is that PKEMRA 2006 has yet to be fully implemented. GAO has documented that failure. So as we approach the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina landfall perhaps time to document this failure more closely.

Monday, August 15, 2011


The most complete metrics in the strategic plan appear on page 14 as follows:

Key Outcomes to Achieve-
(1) Establish a national capability to treat, stabilize, and provide care for 265,000 casualties following a catastrophic event;
(2) Establish a national capability to move and distribute materiel and supplies to meet the needs of 1.5 million disaster survivors within 72 hours;
(3) Establish a national capability to restore and sustain basic services and community functionality for an affected area of seven million people within 60 days;
(4) Establish a national capability to recover the communities of 1.5 million disaster survivors within 5 years of the event;
(5) Implement a performance-based qualification requirements system for all FEMA personnel participating in disaster response and recovery activities and a dynamic readiness measurement system for FEMA teams and deployable assets

“In the event of a terrorist attack, natu-ral disaster, or other large-scale emergency, the Department and FEMA provide a coordinated, comprehensive federal response and work with Federal, state, local, and private sector partners to ensure a swift and effective recovery effort. Working together, we continue to build a ready and resilient nation by providing grants and training to our partners, coordinating the federal government’s response to disasters, and streamlining rebuilding and recovery along the Gulf Coast and throughout the Nation.”
-Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security

I have given much thought to this goal and wondering what progress has been made so far? More to follow! I am not sure I understand the metrics and what they actually mean. I have found no discussion of this goal since publication of the document. How were they derived and what research or study is behind their establishment.

Pre 9/11/01 Reports on WMD Preparedenss!

For a Listing of early reports on Federal capability
to respond to an WMD attack see the following reports

• June 1996, Joint Report to Congress, Preparedness and Response to a Nuclear, Radiological, Biological, or Chemical Attack, prepared by the Department of Defense and Department of Energy in consultation with FEMA.

• House Document 105-29, January 21, 1997, Policy Functions/Operational Roles of Federal Agencies in Countering the Domestic Chemical/Biological Threat, Message from the President of the United States Transmitting A Report Describing the Respective Policy Functions and Operational Roles of Federal Agencies In Countering The Threat Posed By the Use or Potential Use of Biological and Chemical Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Within the United States, Pursuant to Pub. L. 104-201, §1416(e) (110 Stat. 2724).

• House Document 105-79, May 5, 1997, COMPREHENSIVE READINESS PROGRAM FOR COUNTERING PROLIFERATION OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, Message from the President of the United States Transmitting A Report That Describes The United States Comprehensive Readiness Program For Countering Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Pursuant to Public Law 104-201, §1443(c (110 STAT 2729).


• General Accounting Office, NSIAD-97-254, September 26, 1997, Combating Terrorism: Federal Agencies’ Efforts to Implement National Policy and Strategy.

• General Accounting Office, NSIAD-98-39, December 1, 1997, Combating Terrorism: Spending on Government wide Programs Requires Better Management and Coordination.

• House Document 105-224, CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS DEFENSE, Communication 7735 from the President of the United States, March 5, 1998.

• General Accounting Office, GAO/NSIAD-98-74, April 9, 1998, Combating Terrorism: Threat and Risk Assessments Can Help Prioritize and Target Program Investments.

• General Accounting Office, GAO/T-NSIAD-98-164, April 23, 1998, Combating Terrorism: Observations on Crosscutting Issues, Statement of Richard Davis, Director, National Security Analysis, National Security and International Affairs Division, before the Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice, Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

• General Accounting Office, GAO/T-NSIAD-99-16, October 16, 1998, Combating Terrorism: Observations on the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Domestic Preparedness Program.

• General Accounting Office, GAO/NSIAD-99-3, November 12, 1998, Combating Terrorism: Opportunities to Improve Domestic Preparedness Program Focus and Efficiency.

WMD and the Interest of Congress Begins!

PUBLIC LAW 104-201


Extract from House Conference Report No. 104-724

Domestic Preparedness

Enhancing the nation’s ability to prevent, and, if necessary, to respond to a terrorist incident involving nuclear, radiological, chemical, or biological weapons or materials is the cornerstone of this program. The conferees note that an interagency group, composed of the Federal Response Plan signatory agencies led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) completed and forwarded to the President on July 1, 1996, a report titled ”Consequences Management for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) Terrorism.” The report documents the inadequacy of the Federal Response Plan to deal with NBC terrorist incidents and makes specific recommendations regarding capability enhancements. The conferees agree to a provision (§1411) that would require the President to take immediate action to enhance the capability of the Federal Government to respond to such incidents and to provide enhanced support to improve the capabilities of State and local emergency response and law enforcement agencies to respond to such incidents. The provision would further require the President to provide to the Congress by January 31, 1997, [published in the Congressional Record on February 26, 1997] a report containing an assessment of such capabilities, improvements required, and measures that should be taken to achieve such improvements, including additional resources and legislative authority that might be necessary.

The conferees agree to recommend $50.0 million for the establishment of a domestic emergency assistance program for the Department of Defense to immediately begin sharing its unique expertise, experience, and equipment in dealing with chemical and biological weapons and materials with local emergency first respondents (firemen, policemen, and medical workers).

The conferees expect that the Secretary of Defense will work expeditiously with the Secretary of Health and Human Services in providing DOD resources and expertise to the Office of Emergency Preparedness for the formation of emergency medical teams that are trained and equipped to handle incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.

The conferees agree to provide $15.0 million for DOD to conduct interagency exercises that will focus on testing and improving the U.S. Government’s ability to respond to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
The conferees have agreed to an additional provision (§1414) that would require DOD to establish at least one Chemical-Biological Emergency Response Team for rapid response to domestic terrorism. The conferees expect that such teams would be similar in concept to the Nuclear Emergency Search Team and Accident Response Groups that are maintained by DOE for response to a nuclear incident. The conferees note in the joint DOD/DOE report [prepared in consultation with FEMA] to the Congress, “Preparedness and Response to a Nuclear, Radiological, Biological, or Chemical Terrorist Attack,” dated June 13, 1996, that the DOD is attempting to establish such a capability. The conferees note that many of the capabilities sought for such teams are already present in the Army’s Technical Escort Unit, Edgewood Research, Development, and Engineering Center, and Chemical Defense and Infectious Disease Medical Research Institutes. The conferees also note the Counterproliferation Program Review Committee’s “Report on Activities and Programs for Countering Proliferation’, dated May 1996, which states that the U.S. Marine Forces, Atlantic was scheduled to activate a Department of the Navy/Marine Corps Chemical/Biological Incident Response Force on June 1, 1996, to respond to chemical and biological incidents (terrorist or otherwise) occurring on naval installations and Department of State legations worldwide. The conferees understand that the unit has been activated and is now in training.
In §1416, the conferees agree to provide authority, very narrowly defined and carefully constructed, for the President and the Attorney General to request military support to local authorities in incidents involving chemical and biological weapons. This authority is in addition to the authorities otherwise provided in Chapter 18 of title 10, U.S. Code. The conferees agree that the use of the military in any emergency situation involving biological or chemical weapons or materials should be limited both in time and scope to dealing with the specific chemical or biological weapons-related incident.
Finally, the conferees have included a provision (§1417) that would require Federal Response Plan agencies to develop and maintain an inventory of equipment and other assets that could be made available to aid State and local officials in search and rescue and other disaster management and mitigation efforts associated with an emergency involving weapons of mass destruction, and would require FEMA to maintain a comprehensive master list of the inventory. The provision would also require FEMA to establish a data base on chemical and biological agent and munitions characteristics and safety precautions and to develop a system to provide federal, State, and local officials access to the data base and to the master inventory.



From September 1981 until November 1993, a National Preparedness Directorate existed in FEMA. E.O. 12148, in its §2-103 has assigned FEMA the consequences of major terrorist events role. That role was assigned to the State and Local Support Directorate during the period September 1981 to November 1983, since it was viewed as primarily a civil defense function or a disaster response function. FEMA was reorganized in November 1993 but it wasn't until the establishment of a Director of National Security and the drafting and issuance of PDD-39 in April 1995 that FEMA again focused on the terrorism assignment. The Director in a memorandum dated September 9, 1997 created a Terrorism Coordination Unit independent of the Director of National Security function when he issued a memorandum dated October 1, 1997, subject: FEMA's Role in Terrorism and Consequence Management. The new unit had a scheduled life of six months and on June 21, 1998 was subsumed in a new organizational the Office of National Security Affairs reporting to the Director, that also combined the Director of National Security function. This organization now has principal jurisdiction over three new PDDs [62, 63, and 67] signed by the President in May and October 1998. The Acting Chief Information Officer of FEMA has been delegated responsibilities under PDD-63 as the Chief Information Assurance Officer and the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Officer.

A relatively comprehensive Office of General Counsel opinion issued February 21, 1991, subject Application of Section 501(b) of the Stafford Act, addressed the issues raised by the language of the Act “that an emergency exists for which the primary responsibility for response rests with the United States because the emergency involves a subject area for which, under the Constitution or laws of the United States, the United States exercises exclusive or preeminent responsibility and authority . . .” See GCM 91-2-21.

Since the date of that memorandum, it has also been made clear by President Clinton’s issuance of PDD-39 and PDD-62 that any terrorist event or involvement of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) will be considered automatically to involve the Federal government’s “preeminent responsibility and authority.” In GCM-96-11-21, a legal opinion issued to staff of the National Security Counsel, the General Counsel of FEMA concluded that the Attorney General should be included on decisions to use the Stafford Act emergency authority with respect to findings as to areas of Federal preeminent responsibility and authority.

Note this technical note prepared before FEMA incorporated into DHS on March 1, 2003

FEMA's Long Slide Into a Future DHS Begins!

Response On the Record to Terrorism- Related Issues at the Confirmation Hearing for Director Allbaugh-January 2001


In response to the comments on the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century (the Hart-Rudman Commission) Report raised by Senators Lieberman and Akaka at the confirmation hearing, the following provides an analysis of areas of the report that most impact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) followed by comments specific to each Senator’s comments, issues or concerns.

FEMA Analysis of the Hart-Rudman Commission Report

The report advocates fifty recommended changes in five areas to improve U.S. national security to include ensuring security, recapitalizing educational strengths, redesigning Executive Branch institutions, overhauling the personnel system, and reorganizing the role of Congress. Many of the recommendations, particularly with respect to creating a new agency to combat terrorism, directly impact FEMA.

The Commission finds that the United States is “very poorly organized to design and implement any comprehensive strategy to protect the homeland.” With resources scattered across various Federal agencies, the report argues for major organizational changes based upon a national strategy. The first recommendation is for the development of a “comprehensive strategy to heighten Americas ability to prevent and protect against all forms of attacks on the homeland, and to respond to such attacks if prevention and protection fail.”

The Commission recommends the creation of the National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) responsible for “planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S. government activities involved in homeland security,” using FEMA as its key building block. The director of the NHSA would be a member of Cabinet and advisor to the National Security Council and the single person accountable for homeland security.

Because the NHSA would be built upon FEMA, it would be chartered to “provide a focal point for all natural and manmade crisis and emergency planning scenarios.” Most of FEMA’s current functions at the Headquarters level would be incorporated into the Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response. Regionally, the NHSA would employ the FEMA Regional Office structure, with much of its daily work taking place “directly supporting state officials in its regional offices.”

Additionally, the NHSA establishes two additional directorates, including a Directorate of Prevention for border security and the Directorate of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) to handle the ever increasing cyber threat. In order to accomplish the tasks of these two directorates, the Customs Service, the Border Patrol, and the Coast Guard be transferred to the NHSA, while “preserving them as distinct entities.”

Additionally, the existing National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO), the Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs), the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIAO), the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), and the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P) also would be relocated to the NHSA.

Also, the Commission recommends the creation of a National Crisis Action Center (NCAC) to be located in the NHSA. Directed by a two-star National Guard general, the interagency center would be “the nations focal point for monitoring emergencies and coordinating federal support in a crisis to state and local governments, as well as to the private sector.” During the response phase of a crisis, the NCAC would be accountable for the monitoring of ongoing operations and requirements.

Stating that the NHSA would strengthen FEMA’s ability to response to natural and manmade disasters, the Commission outlines the mechanism for responding to emergencies. This would include State officials having the initial lead role for response, with the President designating a Federal Coordinating Officer only during major crises. In the event that the National Guard is federalized or Reserve forces are used, a Defense Coordinating Officer would be appointed to provide civilian oversight.

The National Guard would have homeland security as its primary mission. This would require that the Guard be “reorganized, properly trained, and adequately equipped to undertake that mission.” In accomplishing this mission, the Guard would participate in planning for a WMD incident, train and help organize responders, maintain inventories of available resources and equipment, plan for inter-state support, and develop an international capability for humanitarian assistance.

Another restructuring change that the Commission recommends is for Congress to create a single body to deal with homeland security issues that would include members of all relevant Congressional committees but would not have a legislative or oversight mandate. Additionally, there would be only one committee in each house with responsibility for appropriations and oversight for homeland security functions.

Senator Lieberman’s Comments

During the confirmation hearing, Senator Lieberman brought up the threat of domestic terrorism specifically referencing the Hart-Rudman Commission Report that recommends the formation of a new agency (involving FEMA and others) to prepare the United States in case of an attack. Senator Lieberman encouraged Mr. Allbaugh to get involved in this. Mr. Allbaugh said he would review the report and respond to Senator Lieberman.

Director Allbaugh’s Response to Senator Lieberman

FEMA agrees with the concerns of the Commission regarding the need to seriously examine the current efforts and associated roles and responsibilities to prepare for and respond to terrorist events and other national security incidents that are spread across several departments and agencies. We also agree with the need for a comprehensive national strategy addressing terrorism prevention and preparedness. The preparedness effort needs to focus primarily on local and State responders so they are adequately prepared to respond to terrorist incident of all kinds. Under its current authorities and Presidential guidance, FEMA has a key role in leading the response to the effects of a terrorism incident as well as helping States and local governments to be adequately prepared to respond to such an event. We agree with the need for a defined and accepted Federal leadership role, supported by the White House and Congress, that includes the authority for a lead agency to provide overall direction, integration and oversight for the implementation of all Federal terrorism preparedness programs and activities, to include the authority to preclude duplication of effort among various Federal departments and agencies.

The concept of a National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) attempts to address this need, but raises some specific concerns as well. One is the creation of a new agency that duplicates much of what FEMA already does on a daily basis in working with State and local governments in preparedness and response. Under the Federal Response Plan (FRP) structure, FEMA coordinates the activities of 27 Federal departments and agencies and the American Red Cross in providing Federal assistance to supplement the efforts of the affected local and State governments responding to a variety of natural and manmade disasters and emergencies. This is a well known and tested structure that incorporates many of the agencies active in homeland security, including the Department of the Defense and the National Guard. The role of the National Crisis Action Center (NCAC) in the NHSA to monitor and coordinate Federal support to State and local governments is an unnecessary duplication of FEMA’s primary role under a Presidential declaration of a disaster or emergency, to include the response to a terrorist incident. The vesting of homeland security functions with the National Guard, to include planning, training and resourcing also presents challenges, in that the Guard is first of all a State asset on call by the Governor for a variety of missions, not just terrorism response, and that these activities are already being addressed by FEMA and other agencies under existing authorities. In short, FEMA would become the basis of an organization that would create more complexity in both the preparedness and response arena that currently exists.

We are in agreement with the recommendation the report for some restructuring within Congress to create joint committees to consolidate the several program committees and funding streams that now take in terrorism preparedness and response.

Senator Akaka’s Comments

Senator Akaka asked how did Mr. Allbaugh think this restructuring would take place and potentially impact FEMA as a whole – especially activities such as floodplain mapping and national hazards research. Mr. Allbaugh said he would respond.

Director Allbaugh’s Response to Senator Akaka

The restructuring would potentially impact FEMA’s other all-hazard preparedness and response missions. Although terrorism is an important threat, FEMA also is responsible for preparedness programs in other areas involving significant natural hazards such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes. Restructuring the agency as a homeland security agency could diminish FEMA’s lead role as a natural disaster preparedness and response agency. FEMA must be able to continue to address the larger threat spectrum consisting of both natural hazards and national security threats with adequate resources in both areas.

FEMA agrees with the concerns of the Commission regarding the need to seriously examine the current efforts and associated roles and responsibilities to prepare for and respond to terrorist events and other national security incidents that are spread across several departments and agencies. We also agree with the need for a comprehensive national strategy addressing terrorism prevention and preparedness. The preparedness effort needs to focus primarily on local and State responders so they are adequately prepared to respond to terrorist incident of all kinds. Under its current authorities and Presidential guidance, FEMA has a key role in leading the response to the effects of a terrorism incident as well as helping States and local governments to be adequately prepared to respond to such an event. We agree with the need for a defined and accepted Federal leadership role, supported by the White House and Congress, that includes the authority for a lead agency to provide overall direction, integration and oversight for the implementation of all Federal terrorism preparedness programs and activities, to include the authority to preclude duplication of effort among various Federal departments and agencies.

The concept of a National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) attempts to address this need, but raises some specific concerns as well. One is the creation of a new agency that duplicates much of what FEMA already does on a daily basis in working with State and local governments in preparedness and response. Under the Federal Response Plan (FRP) structure, FEMA coordinates the activities of 27 Federal departments and agencies and the American Red Cross in providing Federal assistance to supplement the efforts of the affected local and State governments responding to a variety of natural and manmade disasters and emergencies. This is a well-known and tested structure that incorporates many of the agencies active in homeland security, including the Department of the Defense and the National Guard. The role of the National Crisis Action Center (NCAC) in the NHSA to monitor and coordinate Federal support to State and local governments is an unnecessary duplication of FEMA’s primary role under a Presidential declaration of a disaster or emergency, to include the response to a terrorist incident. The vesting of homeland security functions with the National Guard, to include planning, training and resourcing also presents challenges, in that the Guard is first of all a State asset on call by the Governor for a variety of missions, not just terrorism response, and that these activities are already being addressed by FEMA and other agencies under existing authorities. In short, FEMA would become the basis of an organization that would create more complexity in both the preparedness and response arena that currently exists.

Senator Akaka’s Comments

Senator Akaka asked Mr. Allbaugh how FEMA could improve awareness among health care professionals regarding biological weapons threats. Mr. Allbaugh said he has also discussed this issue with Sen. Mikulski and would respond back to both of them.

Director Allbaugh’s Response to Senator Akaka and Senator Mikulski

Of all the terrorism threats, the use of biological weapons presents the most complex preparedness challenges. As the lead agency for the response to a terrorist event, including the use of biological weapons, FEMA work closely with our Federal and State partners involved in the health care delivery system to support awareness and expand training in this important area. With the Department of Health and Human Services and others, FEMA is a partner in the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) that provides awareness training in hospitals across the country. FEMA also provides grants to the States that can be used for planning, training and exercises, to include improving awareness among government health care responders. We will continue to work with our local, State and Federal partners to enhance this awareness to the greatest degree possible.

Does FEMA do surveillance?

Readers of this blog may also be following events in Great Britain. One Director of FEMA in the REAGAN ERA wanted FEMA to be a designated member of the INTEL community under the current system then in effect. The 16 members of the INTEL community are actually listed I believe in E.O. 12333, and its predecessors. That did not happen and in fact under President Bill Clinton FEMA even lost its authority to create its own black (compartmented) programs.

To my knowledge FEMA does not participate in any kind of surveillance over the citizens and residents of the USA. The WIKIPEDIA entry on SURVEILLANCE is instructive and partially follows:

"The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject.

Surveillance (play /sərˈveɪ.əns/ or /sərˈveɪləns/)[1] is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people and often in a surreptitious manner. It most usually refers to observation of individuals or groups by government organizations, but disease surveillance, for example, is monitoring the progress of a disease in a community.

The word surveillance is the French word for "watching over".

The word surveillance may be applied to observation from a distance by means of electronic equipment (such as CCTV cameras), or interception of electronically transmitted information (such as Internet traffic or phone calls). It may also refer to simple, relatively no- or low-technology methods such as human intelligence agents and postal interception.

Surveillance is very useful to governments and law enforcement to maintain social control, recognize and monitor threats, and prevent/investigate criminal activity. With the advent of programs such as the Total Information Awareness program and ADVISE, technologies such as high speed surveillance computers and biometrics software, and laws such as the Communications Assistance For Law Enforcement Act, governments now possess an unprecedented ability to monitor the activities of their subjects.[2]

However, many civil rights and privacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and ACLU have expressed concern that by allowing continual increases in government surveillance of citizens that we will end up in a mass surveillance society, with extremely limited, or non-existent political and/or personal freedoms. Fears such as this have led to numerous lawsuits such as Hepting v. AT&T.[2][3]

1 Types of surveillance
1.1 Computer surveillance
1.2 Telephones
1.3 Surveillance cameras
1.4 Social network analysis
1.5 Biometric surveillance
1.6 Aerial surveillance
1.7 Data mining and profiling
1.8 Corporate surveillance
1.9 Human operatives

It is unknown whether the DHS FUSION CENTERS share their surveillance results with FEMA. These units were created adminstratively but now have a statutory basis.

As many readers of this blog I think it would be a real reform and important change to have the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 100-707. to make clear that FEMA does not pay for any federal, STATES and their local governments, Law enforcement activity and cannot also be used for gathering of domestic intelligence in any way. Congress are you listening?

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Well I have had pretty solid confirmation that FEMA now approaches almost 5,000 Permanent Full Time (PFT) employees, appointees and others. With CORE and DAE staff much larger of course. This far exceeds anything existing even in that "golder age" wherein Director James Lee Witt was ordered by President Clinton to focus on natural disasters and in effect to let the National Security portfolio of FEMA slide. Of course the written Direct Presidential orders on the National Security side such as PD-39 and PD-63 and others and their ineffective implementation just confirms that natural hazards was the FEMA mission during the Clinton years.

And of course the OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL where I worked from 1979-1999 had a ceiling of no more than 40 including support staff and often less and no regional counsel (except from 1983-86 when a single lawyer was placed in 5 Regions)!

Now apparently almost 150 PFT in OCC (the Office of the Chief Counsel FEMA) so hoping that show of support to Brad Keiserman by W. Craig Fugate is paying off. Hopefully comprehensive legal audits of all programs, functions and activities are occurring. Hopefully all opinions and advice rendered to clients since April 1, 1979 of lasting significance are arranged and accessible so that OCC advice is consistent or when issued makes clear it is a change of direction.

One area that was weak in my time was delegations so hoping that the legal requirements for proper delegations is now covered completely. Almost no regulatory updates or changes being made in Title 44 including removal of obsolete sections and replacement of them or explanation why not occurring.

And wondering if all training materials and other documents furnished to both FEMA employees, states and their local governments, or even other federal agencies undergoing thorough legal review.

And of course procurement always a problem so hoping that is well covered legally. IN the one year I was senior procurement lawyer (1992) it was brought to my attention that over 6,000 unauthorized contracts had been issued by FEMA staff and offices.

And finally of course, hoping that many in OCC are cleared security wise for all FEMA programs and that those programs are completely and thoroughly undergone legal reviewed.

And just because you are cleared into a program does not mean that program has had complete legal review.

And of course hoping that when an issue arises in litigation a complete administrative record of consideration and decision comes with it and that program officials are no longer hiding even written documents from the litigation staff.

And finally of course hoping that the FEMA staff contains many highly qualified scientists, and engineers, economists, geographers, climatologists, seismologists, meterologists, etc. etc.

And perhaps the former Coasties as once being part of an HRO (highly reliable organization) have imparted some of that culture to FEMA generally.

Of course maybe the best have retired from the Coast Guard and now nicely double dip in FEMA and elsewhere in DHS for retirement and salary. Who can blame them?

But I would argue that one of the huge huge stories a decade after 9/11 is how badly treated the Coast Guard itself has been budget and administratively within DHS since its formation on March 1, 2003.

Well time will tell in the next catastrophe how "New" the "New" FEMA is in fact.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

FEMA's Role in Riots and Civil Disorders

The LONDON riots prompt this post. FEMA has always taken the position that it has no role in law enforcement aspects of riots and civil disorders. It funded ops by DOD improperly in my opinion in the LA RIOTS of 1992 after the President declared a disaster based on FIRE not riots and civil disorder and the California National Guard was mobilized/federalized under Title 10 of the US Code.

You might ask does FEMA conduct training for STATES and their local governments on riots and civil disorder and response them. Not in my time from 1979-1999 but who knows.


New Free Fire/EMS Response to Civil Unrest Training Available
The Firefighters Support Foundation’s (FSF) newest free training program, Fire/EMS Response to Civil Unrest, is now available. Civil unrest events are becoming more prevalent and FD and EMS units are playing a greater role in responding to them. This program consists of a 40-minute video program and an accompanying 46-slide PowerPoint program. Firefighters and EMTs can view the video material with the PowerPoint file acting as their hard copy notes, or they can use either resource independently. Simply go to to download your free copy.

The program covers:

Types of events
Dispatch issues
Body armor
The effects of alcohol
Coordination with other agencies and the police
Approach strategies
The potential for violence
The NFPA mandate
Lessons learned from previous events
Why no jurisdiction is too small
Proven tactics

The PowerPoint and video portions of the program can be used by any agency or member either as-is, or as a basis from which to construct training modules or presentations of their own. Simply go to to download your free copy.

Of course no one knows what the rest of DHS thinks it is supposed to do if their is a riot or civil disorder!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Is the Past Prologue?

From time to time the Berkeley Electronic Press sends me a message like the one below with history of downloads of product of VLG published on its Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management site. That journal is now edited by a brilliant young PhD Irmak Renda-Tanali who is a friend and the book review section is headed by Claire Rubin also brilliant and also a friend of long standing.

So the latest:

"FEMA's Path to Homeland Security: 1979-2003"
9 full-text downloads between 2011-07-07 and 2011-08-07
1760 full-text downloads since date of posting (2004-01-28)

"The McGraw-Hill Homeland Security Handbook"
1 full-text download between 2011-07-07 and 2011-08-07
311 full-text downloads since date of posting (2006-03-04)

"Review of Disaster Response and Homeland Security"
2 full-text downloads between 2011-07-07 and 2011-08-07
180 full-text downloads since date of posting (2007-09-25)

What any Governor needs to Know!

From time to time New Governors are elected to office and some run for and are elected President. Their Homeland Security and Emergency Management staff, plans and operations should be fair game for the MSM and citizens of each state. A while back I wrote up the VLG technical note set forth below:

VLG Technical Note 2010-11-12


1. I ask that each senior person in a management position provide a copy of the November 2010 Governor’s Guide to HS to his/her staff. Giving each person 10 working days to do so, please have each person provide a one page document [maximum length] expressing any concerns or disagreements with that documents information or suggestions and alternatives. These responses including your own one-pager should not be edited but collected and bound into a document for me personally and a copy of that bound document provided all other components involved in EM or HS in our state, and to each individual that provided comments. The one page document should bear the name of the individual but anonomus submissions may be submitted to me personally at _____________. These latter submissions should not duplicate anything in the attributed submissions.

2. Has the Attorney General of my state reviewed all mandatory and discretionary authority of the Governor [now me] for adequacy? If not adequate has proposed legislation been submitted to deal with defects? Can this be done this legislative term or is more drafting time necessary?

3. To what extent does HS and EM in my state rely on federal grants for EM and HS, or the National Guard when not federalized for emergency response, recovery, mitigation, prevention, protection, preparedness? I reverse the normal order of paradigms in case I must react immediately to some incident or event!

4. What open declared disasters and emergencies are now in existence and who declared them and when? What are total obligations by the federal government to date for those open incidents/events? What are total state obligations? Local obligations?

5. Are the NG units in our state up-to-date on CBRNE training? Logistics and operations? When and where was that training conducted? Who paid for it?

6. What is the total number of public safety personnel in my state and where and how are they dispersed? This includes, police, fire, EM, HS, public health, and EMT and HazMat!

7. Please have the most expert person on EMAC in our state government arrange a briefing that can be a webinar for all state employees and in that briefing indicate what our STATES obligations are, do we have that capability, and for adjacent states that are signatories what is their capability including fiscal to assist if EMAC activated? Also who activates EMAC for our state, am I the one?

8. Please prepare a letter to Secretary DHS and Administrator FEMA requesting permanent assignment of a liaison cell to our STATE EOC! Request documentation to accompany that request supporting the request?

9. What capacity does the private sector in our state have to assist in disaster ops including NGO’s and for profit sector?

10. Do we have any standby contracts for disaster ops and how are they funded, if at all?

11. ON a scale of 1-10 with 10 being fully operable, where do our STATE and our local governments stand on communications interoperability, redundancy, and robustness?

12. Who is the key expert in our state government on warning, notification, alerting, and mobilization and arrange to have that person or persons prepared a briefing for me and all state employees through webinar on those subjects including activation, prescripted messages, rumor control and other Emergency Public Information factors?

My guess is that when push comes to shove a sitting Governor or former Governor will lead the GOP ticket and perhaps even the VP nominee on that ticket will also be a current Governor or former Governor. Thus we (the USA) could have in essence a campaign between those who were once or still are Governors and the Current President and VP whose key elective office was as U.S. Senators. I am predicting that the DEMS will lose the Senate in the 2012 election but time will tell.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Clicking on the above will take you to the 1964 OEP Emergency Preparedness Plan assigning roles to all Executive Branch components. It was supplemented in 1969 by EO 11490 and that E.O. was revoked and replaced by EO 12656 (November 18, 1988) now amended.