Fixing FEMA

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wonders if he is the only person out there who thinks that all this talk on Capitol Hill about “fixing” the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is just ridiculous. It is afterall.

The various Senators who want to move FEMA out of the direct control of the Department of Homeland Security, but make the “new FEMA” head report to both the President and the Director of Homeland Security are just wrongheaded. The benefits to this (risky) scheme appear to be that FEMA would have a bigger budget and more control over its budget. Additionally it would be more autonomous and able to react faster and better.

Has anyone actually thought this out? Really now? Anybody? Because this is a bad plan thought up by a bunch of complete fools.

Let us begin with the head of the “new FEMA.” This person (a political appointee by the way) will head up the “new FEMA” and report to both the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security. This position is supposed to be “akin to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Really? How so? The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is still a military officer reporting to the Secretary of Defense. (The Pentagon org chart even says so.) So while the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff may also act as a military advisor to the President, he still reports to the Secretary of Defense. Also, last time he checked, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff doesn’t run his own “independent” government agency separate and apart from the Department of Defense.

So what Senator Collins and others are proposing is that the head of the “new FEMA” is accountable to, but apart from, another Cabinet official; while at the same time being of the same rank (as advisor to the President) as the Cabinet official to whom they report. Is that something only some rareified bureaucrat could think up? Or if not a bureaucrat then perhaps someone taking some hits on a crack-pipe before playing with a Viso org chart?

For those of you who like to see org charts… Here is a quick interpretation of the “new FEMA” relationship as drawn by your Maximum Leader in about 15 seconds.

Lets look at the budget question now. The above linked Washington Post article says:

The new agency would recombine disaster preparedness and response activities, reclaim power over billions of dollars of state and local grants, gain responsibility for securing critical infrastructure, and restore an emphasis on natural, as well as terrorist, threats. Those functions and approaches were dispersed or downgraded by the Bush administration as FEMA was merged into DHS.

Last time your Maximum Leader checked, Federal Budgets were written on a line-item basis. Each line specified an amount of money to a particular agency for a particular function. As FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security, its budget is made up of a number of line items in the overall budget of the Department of Homeland Security. Now knowing what the federal budget process is like, it is possible that a line item for something like trailers for hurricane victims is just added to the DHS budget - but not specifically placed in the FEMA part of the budget. One would suppose that the “new FEMA” would just have this lin item moved over to its budget and removed from DHS. What really is the change there? If FEMA was responsible for buying trailers for hurricane victims before, they will be again. If control of a budget is a problem, why not just specify in the existing DHS budget that certain line items are for FEMA? They can do that you know…

And here is one more point that no one seems to be discussing… Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that FEMA is being run by complete nincompoops. What good will reorganization do? If you reshuffle your idiots, you’ve still got idiots. As your Maximum Leader recalls, the big problem during Katrina appeared to be that no one was in charge. How will any of these proposed changes give clarity to the question of who will be in charge during an emergency?

Think about it. This is just about as stupid an idea as giving everyone a $100 check to offset rising gas prices…

Carry on.

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