Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 20, 2006

Senate Katrina report expected by late March

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on February 20, 2006

The Portland (ME) Press Herald reported today on Sen. Susan Collins’ plans for finishing up the HSGAC investigation of Katrina over the next month:

Collins hopes to complete her report, a bipartisan effort in contrast to the House Republican version, by mid-March. She met Thursday with Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, the committee’s top Democrat, to discuss scores of legislative proposals expected by late March.

“I believe and hope that government officials at all levels have learned the serious lessons of Katrina,” Collins said. “Preparedness is still not where it should be.”

Two of the biggest proposals already circulating at the Capitol aim to remove Chertoff, and shift the Federal Emergency Management Agency from the Department of Homeland Security. Reasons for the proposals are somewhat intertwined. But Collins is skeptical of either action.

Based on the hearings, I’m expecting a very thorough report, one that is perhaps less biting in its rhetoric than the House report released last week, but equally damning in the substance of its findings. Also, unlike the House report, the Senate report is likely to include a set of recommendations. As the article mentions, there are numerous other recommendations floating around Congress related to Katrina, DHS, and FEMA right now, which could gain traction in the coming weeks. To avoid the possibility that their ideas will be crowded out, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Collins and Lieberman starting to preview their recommendations in the weeks prior to releasing the report.

Update (4/27): Here’s the link to the materials in the final report which were released today.

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1 Comment »


Comment by William R. Cumming

February 21, 2006 @ 8:49 am

It is interesting to note that all the after-action reports by various entities overlook the fact that the only authorized executive branch report is the one to-be-issued by the Homeland Security Advisor. It would be interesting to at least have an inventory of after-action reports by various elements of DHS and the other Departments and agencies. It is interesting to note that no department wide or FEMA-wide after-action system is established yet so that only on an ad-hoc basis is critical information captured.
FEMA for example does not even have an agency wide statistical unit that could be used to capture key data. Most of the data on disasters has only been “teased” out of FEMA years after the fact. Congress certainly has been complicit in this failure because the leading transfer beneficiaries of disaster outlays prior to Katrina have usually been states with the best systems to “game” the disaster system and thereby gain larger outlays for what in many cases are repetitive losses. There is also no systematic study under way analyzing how the National Flood Insurance Program (42 USC 4001-4129) may have impacted potential disaster losses from Katrina. The ratio of reduction is not necessarily one-to-one. At least the government got some premium income for the NFIP as opposed to “free” disaster relief outlays. Louisana was a qualifed self-insurer under the NFIP. What insurance has the State recovered from the private insurers?

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