The AP reports today on a DHS Inspector General report that will be coming out tomorrow:
Widespread criticism of the government’s sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina was largely deserved, the Homeland Security Department’s internal watchdog concludes in a report rapping the agency for focusing on terrorism at the expense of preparing for natural disasters.
The report by Inspector General Richard L. Skinner, to be released Friday, includes 38 recommendations for improving disaster response missions by the department and its Federal Emergency Management Agency….
Though FEMA provided “record levels of support” to storm victims, emergency responders and state authorities, investigators found it was hampered by untrained staff, unreliable communication systems and poor coordination in delivering aid. The report also called FEMA plans to assist overwhelmed states during disasters “insufficient for an event of Hurricane Katrina’s magnitude.”
It also found that confusing guidelines in the National Response Plan – issued in December 2004 as a blueprint for action the government is supposed to follow during emergencies – led to duplicated communication and efforts during Katrina.
The 38 recommendations call for better training, coordination, and systems for ensuring communications among local and state emergency responders and between federal agencies providing aid. They also call for more clearly defined roles and an established chain of command within the federal government.
Based on this story, most of these recommendations seem familiar, similar to what’s already been proposed by the GAO, the House Katrina Committee, the White House, and FEMA itself. But it’s likely to be an important report nonetheless, because it’s coming from the entity whose full-time job it is to keep DHS accountable, and which should have the deepest insight into the inner workings of the Department of any watchdog.
The full report will likely be available tomorrow at this link.
Update (4/14): The full report is here. Analysis to follow.