Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bureaucratic Struggles

It appears that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff recognized several months ago that one of DHS's subordinate agencies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), had been operationally crippled when it was absorbed by DHS.

For a better understanding of how Chertoff hoped to restore FEMA's response capabilities, see the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service's 29-page report entitled Department of Homeland Security Reorganization: The 2SR Initiative released on August 19, 2005. Pages CRS-8 through CRS-11 under major headings Operations and Preparedness discuss FEMA.

Hurricane Katrina has focused political attentions on FEMA's reduced capability for timely response to catastrophic natural disasters. That condition was created by FEMA's being folded into DHS, a department created principally to deal with terrorism and only incidentally with natural disasters. FEMA's administrator, Undersecretary for Emergencies, Preparedness, and Response Michael Brown, has taken the heat for that, however it seems clear from Secretary Chertoff's reorganization proposal (the 2SR Initiative) that the dilution of FEMA's power and authority had been recognized long before Katrina hit the Gulf coast.

I would expect that the 2SR Initiative will get renewed and speedy attention by Congress. It seems inevitable that Michael Brown will soon depart from his Undersecretary position with DHS. Hopefully his replacement will be chosen for his or her qualifications and experience in managing emergencies, preparedness, and response. But then, we need to remember that Undersecretary Brown was confirmed by the US Senate, and that body was aware of his qualifications when it voted to confirm him. I wonder how Idaho's US Senators, Craig and Crapo, voted?


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