Could There Be Common Sense in Our Government?
(Posted May 9, 2006) The General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report today on its analysis of and recommendations for strengthening FEMA after last years tragedy. The report, FEMA: Factors for Future Success and Issues to Consider for Organizational Placement, outlines suggested changes for FEMA aside from simply abolishing it or separating it out from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The GAO states that the following should be looked at rather than just organizational changes:
- Clarity of FEMA's mission and its related responsibilities and authorities
- The experience of and training related to, FEMA leadership
- The adequacy of its human, financial, and technological resources
- The effectiveness of its planning, exercises and related partnerships
Essentially, the GAO is suggesting that we look at the substantive issues presented as a result of FEMA's performance during Hurricane Katrina, and not the reactive, political, or superficial "fixes" presented by the administration or elected officials. The report states that organizational changes alone will not fix FEMA, but rather, clarifying its mission, strengthening its leadership, increasing its preparedness and response capabilities, and clear resources identified will better move the agency forward. What I find particularly interesting about the GAO report is its emphasis on well trained, cohesive, strong, and effective leadership. In addition, it is the first report I have seen (from government) that actually addresses where the breakdowns happened during FEMA's response and offers reasonable and implementable changes. And a bonus is that the report is 22 pages!
Homeland Security Watch also reported on the GAO findings and felt similar to how I feel about it:
I made a similar point in a post last week, and agree entirely that the issue of organizational structure is secondary. Hopefully the current debate in Congress will not get bogged down on organizational issues, but will instead focus on the less-visible but more important determinants of FEMA’s success.
Indeed, hopefully Congress will listen to the common sense report issued today and not let politics or reactionary ideas rule the day.
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