RealNews

Brown’s Turf Wars Sapped FEMA’s Strength

On Sept. 15, 2003, one of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge’s deputies lobbed a bureaucratic hand grenade across his desk. In a seven-page memo, the new department’s undersecretary for emergency preparedness and response told Ridge that his organizational plan would cripple America’s ability to respond to disasters. The memo, like so many that flew around Washington during the largest government reshuffling in decades, involved turf: Ridge had decided to move some of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s preparedness functions to an office less than one-fifteenth its size. The writer warned that the shift would make a mockery of FEMA’s new motto, “A Nation Prepared,” and would “fundamentally sever FEMA from its core functions,” “shatter agency morale,” and “break longstanding, effective and tested relationships with states and first responder stakeholders.” Full Story

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