The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report today on FEMA, and its “Factors for Future Success and Issues to Consider for Organizational Placement.” The report provides a solid overview of factors to consider in restructuring FEMA. In that regard, it serves as a good companion piece to the Congressional Research Service’s recent report on the history of federal organization for emergency management. But more importantly, it makes the point that organizational structure is not the most important factor in determining FEMA’s future success, commenting:
As Comptroller General Walker has noted previously, a number of factors may be ultimately more important to FEMA’s success in responding to and recovering from future disasters than its organizational placement.
- the clarity of FEMA’s mission and its related responsibilities and authorities;
- the experience of and training provided to FEMA leadership;
- the adequacy of its human, financial, and technological resources; and
- the effectiveness of planning, exercises, and related partnerships.
I made a similar point in a post last week, and agree entirely that the issue of organizational structure is secondary. Hopefully the current debate in Congress will not get bogged down on organizational issues, but will instead focus on the less-visible but more important determinants of FEMA’s success.