Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 16, 2006

House committee releases Katrina report addendum

Filed under: Congress and HLS,Preparedness and Response — by Christian Beckner on March 16, 2006

The House Katrina Committee released an addendum to their February report today, as well as an accompanying document dump. There are seven PDF documents which were put up at this link today on the website of the House Government Reform Committee (also chaired by Rep. Tom Davis). The PDF files are very messy and confusing, consisting of a randomly organized scan of relevant documents, but the key point is summarized concisely in this story today from the Washington Post:

Michael D. Brown, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, deliberately ignored a new national disaster plan and circumvented his boss, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, in trying to manage the federal response to Hurricane Katrina directly with the White House, according to a new House report.

By disregarding the National Response Plan, finished in 2004, Brown deprived “the nation of an opportunity to determine whether the NRP worked,” the House investigation concludes in an addendum to its Feb. 15 report, “A Failure of Initiative,” scheduled for release today.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 17, 2006 @ 9:49 am

While DHS and most commentators continue to use 2004 as the adoption date for the NRP, it was sent in early December 2004 under the signature of Tom Ridge to the other departments and agencies for their final approval and signature. There appears to have been a formal issuance in April 2005 of the NRP but I have been unable to find any Federal Register notice or other evidence of formal adoption issued to the public. Perhaps it is of interest that neither the NRP or FRP (Federal Response Plan) was formally issued for notice and comment from the public but this might have been wise given that it is not a regulation but both definitelly affect the public.

Another footnote, the FRP was issued final in May 1992 and Hurricane Andrew hit in August. There was always a question of whether it was used partially or totally in the Andrew response. Here again, the NRP was issued final in April and in August Hurricane Katrina hits and there again is a question as to its total or partial utilization.
It may be unimportant to some but it interesting that the only Comprehensive Emergency Plan signed by a President was issued by OEP (Office of Emergency Preparedness (an office in the Executive Offices of the White House) and signed by President Johnson in 1964. A number of statutes call on the President (not a subordinate official)to adopt and issue a plan for domestic crisis response. A Presidential signature on the NRP would have assisted in implementation of the NRP. Also several key activities relating to implementation and training on the NRP are only now being conducted. Does this speak to its effectiveness and efficiency in August 2005?


Comment by William R. Cumming

March 18, 2006 @ 3:10 am

An interesting report by CRS on 2sr was released on August 19th, 2005. It foreshadows the Katrina response disaster. How by showing the continued stripping of FEMA capabilities now documented in the House Majority report “Failure of Initiative.” Failure of Congressional oversight appears to be a better title for the majority report. A close analysis of actual funds available for FEMA to conduct preparedness activities during its time as an independent agency, 1979-2003 would be shocking, if the costs of COOP and COG are not counted but only preparedness for large scale domestic incident/event crisis response. Again, DOD for domestic response got more actual domestic preparedness funding post 9/11 than either FEMA or DHS even now. Where are the funds to implement the 125 White House Katrina recommendations?

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