Mitch Berg notes that there are calls to end the Federal Emergency Management Agency and replace it with a new, more independent agency.
It made a certain amount of sense for FEMA to be part of the Department of Homeland Security. The whole point of the DHS was to facilitate information sharing between agencies and coordinate efforts better – and there’s no doubt that FEMA would have a role in the aftermath of any future terrorist attack. However, it was clear that after Katrina, FEMA was no longer capable of doing its job in its current form.
If we’re going to replace FEMA, we need to do a better job. The federal government needs to support local first responders first. First responders need to have the tools and skills to deal with disaster situations, and the federal government can and should have a supporting role, but too often the federal bureaucracy hinders, rather than helps, disaster recovery. We can’t federalize everything – and the best way to save lives is to have the people whose jobs it is to protect a specific area be training and supplied with everything they need to do their jobs.
Unfortunately, we all know that government tends to inject itself everywhere, whether it is wise or not – which is why the replacement agency for FEMA will undoubtedly have twice the budget, four times the waste, and ten times the bureaucracy.