Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 6, 2005

Chertoff on re-engineering FEMA

Filed under: Organizational Issues,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on December 6, 2005

From an interview with Siobhan Gorman in the Baltimore Sun today:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said yesterday that he is planning to “re-engineer” the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has continued to come in for harsh criticism for its performance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

In an interview with The Sun, Chertoff said the overhaul would be modeled on the just-in-time delivery systems widely used in private industry. He plans to announce the changes, part of a plan to modernize the way FEMA does business, next month…

To improve FEMA’s logistics operations, Chertoff said, he is looking at private-sector models, such as freight forwarders, to figure out how to deliver goods quickly and efficiently in a disaster.

The top two weaknesses the overhaul will address, he said, are the agency’s logistical planning before and during an event, and its ability to deliver services to victims afterward.

Another goal of the revamped FEMA operation will be to adapt quickly to a change in plans or a disaster on a scale much larger than expected.

This is an important part of any solution to fix FEMA…but any proposal needs to address the organization’s culture, leadership, and management as well, and empower people to act on their own initiative at all levels of FEMA and across organizational boundaries.

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