Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 23, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 23, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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23 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 5:01 am

DOES IT MATTER? SHOULD IT MATTER?

FEMA’s current Strategic Plan:

http://fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/strategic.pdf

Discussion follows!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 5:08 am

Administrator Fugate’s FOREWARD:

I am pleased to share with you the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 2014–2018 Strategic Plan.
The Plan reflects objectives the Agency will accomplish to provide the best possible support to the American people before, during, and after disasters. It sets forth the strategies we will employ to accomplish our objectives and also establishes measurable outcomes for us to achieve. This Strategic Plan was developed through the involvement of hundreds of FEMA employees and many external stakeholders who contributed to generating our objectives, strategies, and outcomes, and who are now working with us to execute this Plan.
FEMA’s 2014–2018 priorities are to:
1.
Be survivor-centric in mission and program delivery;
2.
Become an expeditionary organization;
3.
Posture and build capability for catastrophic disasters;
4.
Enable disaster risk reduction nationally; and
5.
Strengthen FEMA’s organizational foundation.
This Strategic Plan is not a check-the-box document that will sit on a shelf. It was developed through the participation of a large group of dedicated people, and the Plan will be executed by the entire Agency working together with external partners. I am committed to basing FEMA’s resource decisions going forward on achieving the outcomes we have set forth in this Plan.
FEMA, however, is just one part of the Nation’s emergency management team. We will be successful only if we build, sustain, and draw upon the capabilities of the whole community. I look forward to working with partners throughout Federal, state, and local governments; tribal governments; the private sector; faith-based and non-profit communities; and citizens across our country to bring about the outcomes set forth in this Plan. Your support and engagement will ensure our collective success.
W. Craig Fugate
FEMA Administrator

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 5:12 am

Extract from FOREWARD:

“This Strategic Plan is not a check-the-box document that will sit on a shelf.”

YUP! Did not sit on shelf but fell into trash can IMO.

Why? In reality a contractor produced document that was not developed bottom up and not tied to budget priorities.

Oddly, IMO it did and does have some merit!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 5:35 am

Like almost all FEMA documents STRATEGIC PLAN undated and no information on who signed off and who coordinated. And their is a regulatory re3uirement that all contractor participation be identifed.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 5:40 am

Did you know that next to its salaries and expense budget most of FEMA’s budget outside of grants is bases on its communications and IT expenditures?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 5:41 am

Did you know that almost three hours of yesterday’s House hearing starring Hillary Clinton was devoted to Social Media and its alleged impacts on the event being discussed?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 5:50 am

“The political doctrine of anacyclosis (or anakyklosis from Greek: ???????????) is a cyclical theory of political evolution. The theory of anacyclosis is based upon the Greek typology of constitutional forms of rule by the one, the few, and the many. Anacyclosis states that three basic forms of “benign” government (monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy) are inherently weak and unstable, tending to degenerate rapidly into the three basic forms of “malignant” government (tyranny, oligarchy, and ochlocracy). Note that “ochlocracy” refers to mob rule, not the concept of democracy created in the late 18th century.
According to the doctrine, “benign” governments have the interests of all at heart, whereas “malignant” governments have the interests of a select few at heart. However, all six are considered unworkable because the first three rapidly transform into the latter three due to political corruption.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacyclosis
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyklos

Comment by Claire Rubin

October 23, 2015 @ 7:09 am

GAO Testimony just released discusses the realities of FEMA’s progress since H. Katrina and H. Sandy. See: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-90T

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 23, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

Thanks Claire for the link. Also posted at the following link:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/index.html

The GAO report seems to reinforce the need to make more progress on the STRATEGIC PLAN.

Comment by Citizen Joe

October 23, 2015 @ 10:58 pm

God Bless you Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler – killed in combat – in Iraq – thank you for your distinguished and honored service – your bravery and love for our beloved Republic clear and a White House and Pentagon who should be ashamed at yourselves for not acknowledging your death as a combat fatality – how dare you?

Hero killed in ISIS raid Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, first U.S soldier to die in combat against Islamic State

The first U.S. soldier to die in combat against the murderous Islamic State was killed when he rushed headlong into a firefight to protect some Kurdish soldiers, the top Pentagon official said Friday.

Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was supposed to be directing the Kurdish attack, but when they got into trouble he joined the fight and was felled by gunfire, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said.

A proud son of Oklahoma, Wheeler was felled in a raid on an ISIS prison Thursday near the Iraqi town of Hawija during which some 70 hostages were freed from their clutches.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 24, 2015 @ 9:04 am

Some may remember the long struggle over so-called DUAL USE that evolved into ALL-HAZARDS. See NSDM-184 on the FAS/FEMA website.

This controversy was launched by none other than Henry Kissinger subject of recent biographical study and many more to follow.

But I often spend quite a large amount of time studying DoD open source material and studying DoD officialdom and policy and operations. E.G. watch TV’s 60 minutes tomorrow and decide for yourself the comparison between US and Russian air strikes and implications.

Also after a relatively thorough I can find almost no one formally delegated HS and EM policy and issues in DoD. NORTHCOM seems to have almost no understanding of circumstances in which their assets and management will be called on for DOMESTIC CRISIS MANAGEMENT and DOMESTIC CRISIS RESPONSE.

Perhaps this is because so few understand the actual implementation of the NRF [NATIONAL RESPONSE FRAMEWORK] and note again the NRF almost not mentioned by the FEMA STRATEGIC PLAN.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 24, 2015 @ 9:07 am

IMO with about 15 months to go, whatever your analysis of the importance of HS and EM [and I find them fundamental to our democracy] The Obama Administration has left HS and EM in shambles.

Always remember I am a fizzy headed liberal that voted twice for Obama.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 24, 2015 @ 9:08 am

I note that the 880 MB readings for Hurricane Patricia had dropped to around 940 MB by the time that hurricane made landfall.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 24, 2015 @ 9:27 am

N.B. {note Bene] that the September 2015 NPG [National Preparedness Goal] makes almost no mention of PREPAREDNESS in the traditional sense and has incorporataed under the word PROTECTION many traditional PREPAREDNESS items.

IMO PRPAREDNESS AND PROTECTION WHILE SOMEWHAT RELATED ARE DIFFERENT SETS!

IMO PREPAREDNESS consists of planning [what is the risk analysis and planning basis]; logistics and mobilization beyond the planning basis; funding 24/7/365; training, personnel and resources; systems and communications; and in general PREPAREDNESS equals CAPABILITY.

Thus the NPG undermines PREPAREDNESS in my opinion.

The real question? How fast can the day job assets of federal departments and agencies be turning into CRISIS MANAGEMENT and RESPONSE ASSETS?

THE FEDERAL BUDGET SHOULD HAVE A SEPARATE BUDGET CODE OF DOMESTIC PREPAREDNESS AND LINE ITEM FUNDING IN EACH FEDERAL DEPARTMENT AND AGENCY. The same of all levels of government and NGO’s involved in HS and EM.

Check out the PREPAREDNESS budget of the ARC and you can see that this federally charter and statutorily refernced NGO has almost no PREPAREDNESS BUDGET.

Hoping that FEMA refugee Brad Keiserman is reading this comment.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

October 25, 2015 @ 8:33 am

FEMA Strategic Plan Priorities:

#2) Become an expeditionary organization

expeditionary = of, relating to, or being an expedition; also : sent on military service abroad <an expeditionary force ; sent to fight in a foreign country

Like I said…. FEMA seems intent on becoming little more than a retirement program for the pentagon, in both culture and focus. Mitigation is barely even paid lip service at this point, and the entire focus at this point is on (preparation for) the response (otherwise known as the great-white-knight) phase. I am no fan of Craig Fugate, who, with his excessive emphasis on preparedness, especially individual preparedness – which couldn't be a more bankrupt priority from a social science/ research perspective – instead of mitigation (you prepare for what you can't mitigate) really put the nail in the coffin of EM as it had come to be so successfully developed and practiced.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

October 25, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

Vicki,

While I don’t disagree with your point regarding mitigation, and think your opinion on individual preparedness is worth debate, any attention paid to developing some qualities of an expeditionary organization is a positive if that mission will continue to be asked of FEMA.

It has been often pointed out that perhaps too many local disasters have been raised to the federal/FEMA level unnecessarily in an effort to obtain federal funds. True or not, on the flip side of that coin it has been the policy of our nation (regardless of party in power) to provide assistance to other countries if they require it following a disaster. This is led by State/USAID, often with a heavy DOD component due to their unmatched logistical capabilities. But FEMA has been and will likely be significantly involved as well.

If directed to participate in such activities overseas shouldn’t FEMA develop some baseline level of expertise in working that environment? Is your disagreement with the term “expeditionary?” USAID is an expeditionary department but certainly do not consider themselves directly related to the military. A word is sometimes just a word and not indicative of a secret, underlying strategy.

In other words, if FEMA is going to continue to be asked to participate in the response to international disasters then it might be sound to develop the policies, personnel, and procedures to do so effectively rather than on an ad-hoc basis each time.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 26, 2015 @ 8:28 am

The concept of FEMA as an expeditionary force undermines PREPAREDNESS and MITIGATION IMO! Why?

Hit and run not useful in domestic disasters. A system maintained 24/7/365 with constant effort is needed. Abolish the FEMA regions and collocate FEMA staff in State EOC’s or in any of the 4,000 National Guard armories. These all have excellent training facilities and communication systems.

And redesign NORTHCOM and NG State roles.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 27, 2015 @ 6:58 am

The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance should be removed from USAID and State Department! Do you know why?

Comment by Vicki Campbell

October 27, 2015 @ 7:40 am

Arnold, thanks – sorry for the delay. I’m not sure how to respond given that your comments raise some very important issues that aren’t addressed in them, which I, in turn, think are paramount to the discussion as you’re shaping it. It is certainly true that sometimes a word is just a word – but I would argue that mosts words, such as referencing or describing topics or entities such as the U.S. military and its culture and history of actions, values and attitudes are hardly that flat or one-dimensional, and carry with them and convey a lot of baggage that is rarely terribly disconnected from that culture of actions, values and attitudes. As such, they matter as a result, because they have the power not only to reveal the present but shape the future.

In terms of FEMA deploying internationally, its my understanding that FEMA is a comparatively small component of our presence in international disasters, if it is one at all, for the most part. But the larger question to my mind is why – and why is USAID and its Office of Disaster Assistance (OFDA) in the lead, almost hand in hand with DOD the entities that take the lead, instead? The answer isn’t complicated, IMHO. The work of USAID, through its OFDA, amongst other mechanisms, is essentially about opening up markets for U.S. corporate interests, under the guise of promoting development and democracy – but which in reality rarely feels like either a very good example of democracy or sustainable development that actually helps foreign citizens either one, from their perspective. Disasters are one of their main avenues of opportunity in that regard – aka “disaster capitalism.”

And in terms of the US military – where does one begin. Their professed logistics capacity comes at a tremendous cost, because of how poor the US military is and is consistently evaluated as being at doing humanitarian relief, period. They are regularly experienced and viewed at best as an inordinate obstacle, and at worst as an occupying force that most NGOs go out of their way to avoid being associated with for myriad reasons. The best example I can think of is DOD’s horrid performance in how they were deployed and functioned in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. It revealed like little else how the U.S. doesn’t actually do humanitarian relief so much as we do strategic relief/aid and assistance, which is why we use the agencies we do.

So do I think that a major organizational goal for FEMA should be getting better at being a part of that process, which isn’t really focused on or in service of the real interests of those countries we deploy to in the name of offering disaster and humanitarian assistance? Not really – because, again, I don’t think its actually meant to truly benefit those countries so much as shape the aftermath of those disaster impacts primarily for the benefit of the U.S. corporations, not the citizens of those impacted countries. Also, the international disaster relief community has for some time been moving to a rights-based approach to disaster response and management more generally, as well as a growing emphasis on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and mitigation. Both are quite unlike the primary approach and emphasis that the U.S. international disaster activities concentrates on, and gets no small amount of criticism for. IMHO, we’re fairly far behind the international relief community in this regard, and FEMA has certainly made a big about face in this regard as well, with its almost sole concentration being on preparedness and response, rather than sustainable recovery and mitigation, and overall disaster risk reduction.

So you see, these are some of the things that are readily invoked for me when words like “expeditionary” come up, and none of them are either neutral or desirable from where I sit.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 27, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

OFDA requests FEMA personnel by name which should give some insight as to FEMA.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 28, 2015 @ 8:21 am

SUGGESTED READING:

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath Oct 27, 2015
by Ted Koppel

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 28, 2015 @ 8:29 am

Today’s NYTimes [10/28/2015has a debate on Storm Sandy aftermath so posting highlights from GAO Testimony recently presented:

What GAO Found
GAO’s recent work highlights both the progress and challenges in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) efforts to lead national preparedness efforts, particularly efforts to assess emergency support capabilities and enhance logistics capabilities. Assessing capabilities is critical to ensure that they will be available when needed in emergencies. For example, GAO found in December 2014 that federal departments have identified emergency response capability gaps through national-level exercises and real-world incidents, but the status of agency actions to address these gaps is not collected by or reported to Department of Homeland Security or FEMA. GAO recommended that FEMA—in collaboration with other federal agencies—regularly report on the status of corrective actions. FEMA agreed with GAO’s recommendation and is taking action to address it but has not established a timeframe for completion.
GAO’s recent work on disaster response and recovery programs also identified progress and challenges in a number of areas. From fiscal years 2004 through 2013, FEMA obligated over $95 billion in federal disaster assistance for 650 major disasters declared during this timeframe. With the growing cost of disasters it is vital for the federal government to address its fiscal exposure and ensure that response and recovery programs are as efficient and effective as possible. For example, in December 2014, GAO found that FEMA demonstrated progress controlling for potentially fraudulent payments to individuals during Hurricane Sandy as compared to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However, GAO reported continued challenges, including weaknesses in validation of Social Security numbers and made recommendations to strengthen these processes. Further, in July 2015, GAO reported that states and localities affected by Hurricane Sandy were able to effectively leverage federal programs to enhance resilience during their recovery. However, states experienced continued challenges in implementing certain FEMA recovery programs, such as Public Assistance. GAO also found that there was no comprehensive, strategic approach to identifying, prioritizing, and implementing investments for disaster resilience. GAO made recommendations to address these continued challenges and FEMA is taking a range of actions to address them.
FEMA has also taken steps to strengthen a number of its management areas, but GAO reported that additional progress is needed in several areas. Specifically, In December 2014, GAO found that FEMA had taken steps to control its administrative costs—the costs of providing and managing disaster assistance—by issuing guidelines and reduction targets. However, GAO reported that FEMA does not require the targets to be met and continued to face challenges tracking the costs. Among other things, GAO recommended that FEMA develop an integrated plan to better control and reduce its administrative costs for major disasters. Further, in July 2015 GAO reported that FEMA had taken action to address various long-standing workforce management challenges, but faced multiple challenges, including implementing and managing its temporary workforces and completing strategic workforce planning efforts. FEMA agreed with GAO’s recommendations and is taking action to address them.
Why GAO Did This Study
A little more than 10 years ago, Hurricane Katrina caused an estimated $108 billion in damage, making it the largest, most destructive natural disaster in our nation’s history. Following the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Congress passed the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (Post-Katrina Act). The act contained over 300 provisions that are intended to enhance national preparedness, emergency response and recovery, and the management of select disaster programs. In October 2012, another catastrophic hurricane—Hurricane Sandy—caused $65 billion in damage and once again tested the nation’s preparedness and emergency response and recovery functions.
GAO has issued multiple reports that discuss a wide variety of emergency management issues reflecting the federal government and FEMA’s efforts to implement provisions of the Post-Katrina Act and address various aspects of emergency management.
This statement discusses GAO’s work on the progress FEMA has made and challenges that it still faces in three areas: (1) national preparedness, (2) disaster response and recovery, and (3) selected FEMA management areas. This statement is based on previously issued GAO reports from 2012 to 2015.

What GAO Recommends

GAO has made numerous recommendations in its prior reports to FEMA designed to address the challenges discussed in this statement. FEMA has taken actions to address many of these recommendations.

For more information, contact Chris Currie at (404) 679-1875 or curriec@gao.gov.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 29, 2015 @ 1:20 am

3rd Republican Presidential debate: Senator Graham mentioned Homeland Security.

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