Senate committee: Get rid of FEMA

A bipartisan Senate investigation into the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina has found that government failed at all levels to provide an appropriate response to one of the worst disasters in American history, and called for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be abolished. I would be cheering, except for what they recommend to replace it.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs released portions of their report Wednesday and will release the entire report next week.

The report calls for FEMA to be dismantled and replaced with, according to the report, “a robust National Preparedness and Response Authority (NPRA) within the Department of Homeland Security. The NPRA would fuse the Department’s emergency management, preparedness and critical infrastructure assets into a powerful new organization that can confront the challenges of natural or man-made catastrophes. It will provide critical leadership for preparedness and response by combining key federal personnel and assets, as well as federal partnerships with state and local officials and the private sector to prepare for and respond to terror attacks or natural disasters.”

“We have concluded that FEMA is in shambles and beyond repair, and that it should be abolished,” Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a written statement released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which held 22 hearings, interviewed more than 320 people and reviewed more than 838,000 pages of documents. . . .

The Senate report said making FEMA independent would “do nothing to solve the key problems that Katrina has revealed, including a lack of resources and weak and ineffective leadership,” and could lead to wasteful duplication. — Washington Post

And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge for sale cheap. This smells like rearranging the bureaucratic deck chairs, so as to look like they’re doing something. And I’m not the only one who thinks so; some FEMA employees agree.

“It’s time to stop playing politics, because people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake, and [to] give FEMA the authority once again to do the job it was created to do,” said one employee, who asked for anonymity. — Government Executive

We’d almost certainly be somewhat better off if FEMA was still a Cabinet-level agency, but I still maintain we’d get better disaster response by abolishing FEMA and turning disaster response authority over to Wal-Mart.

One thought on “Senate committee: Get rid of FEMA

  • April 28, 2006 at 8:11 am

    It seems to me that your final statement is the real one we should be looking at. Let’s face it the report fracnkly admits that the Katrina disaster was made worse at all levels by governmental incompetence. So what makes any of us think that creating or changing this government aganecy will make any difference whatsoever? That whole insanity being doing the same thing, expecting different results comes to mind.

    I think our biggest mistake (not just by the government, but as citizens as well) is to expect to government to be able to do these things copetently when we have so massively overgrown the government to the point where I think it is quite incapable of doing much of anything. The most successful agencies are the most autonomous ones, like the military (although even that autonomy is getting lost in the shuffle with this administration and their extreme “trust” in ole Rummy, if you ask me.)

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