The Mumbai Attacks – Heard by the Homeland

On Wednesday, March 11, 2009, the House Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection convened a hearing, “The Mumbai Attacks: A Wake-Up Call for America’s Private Sector.” It was quite unusual in that it was a hearing that lived up to its name.

The Search is Over – It's Fugate for FEMA

Today, the White House announced that Craig Fugate, the State of Florida’s Emergency Management Director, has been selected by President Obama to lead the nation’s lead agency for emergency management, FEMA. All of the individuals who were being considered would do a great job as FEMA Administrator, but the President has made his pick and it’s a good one.

There must be a word for people like this…

As more and more supplies are coming into the areas affected by Hurricane Ike and these items are being distributed to people in need — we are starting to get some of the first reports of people abusing the offered services.

The Tale of Two FEMA's

Every organization, regardless of whether it’s in the public or private sector, has its forward-leaning parts. In those parts of the organization, they often operate with three key factors in their operational culture – they foster an open dialogue with multiple parties; they willingly engage the public; and have operational transparency.  But then there are […]

Next Steps for Making Preparedness Everyone's Concern

During my 25 years in the public sector including my tenure overseeing preparedness at DHS and now through my involvement in similar issues in the private sector, there has been so much progress in our nation’s preparedness and response capabilities, but America has a long way to go. Here are my thoughts on how to proceed.

A New Voice Offers Reflection

With just days before the official opening of Hurricane Season 2008, Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook Section provided an excellent guest editorial on the role of preparedness. Written by John Solomon, the piece (“It’s an Emergency. We’re Not Prepared”) offers a citizen’s view of where we are as a nation in our readiness to deal with the next disaster.

CQ Addresses Growing Vulnerability in Deaf Community

Recently, CQ’s Dan Fowler wrote an in-depth investigative analysis on the rather abrupt end to a Gulf Coast program providing emergency alerts to deaf and blind citizens because of a lack of continued funding from FEMA . The Deaf Link pilot program provided critical services to over 2,500 subscribers in three states, but was deemed as too costly to continue by some officials. Earlier in the week, Security DeBrief contributor Rich Cooper had addressed the injustice of not maintaining an emergency alert system that is capable of reaching all members of the American people – including those in the deaf community – in his piece The Forgotten Portion of “We the People” that had an accompanying American Sign Language translation in a YouTube video.

TSA and Emergency Preparedness: An Important Capability Matures

Agree or disagree, the fact is that President Bush’s DHS has made a Herculean effort to move from day to day crisis management to a more thoughtful consideration of threat based risk management priorities. As all parts of DHS begin placing emphasis on emergency preparedness, TSA is emerging as an excellent example.

Private Sector Improves Engagement in Disaster Response

Today and tomorrow, I have the privilege of chairing the Second Annual National Congress for Secure Communities. The National Congress brings together representatives from the federal, state and local government sector with representatives of the private, educational, non-profit, public health and emergency responder sectors to share ideas and develop best practices for community preparedness. I look forward to reporting to our readers on Security Debrief the lessons and outcomes generated during the National Congress over the next days.

Another DHS Re-organization? Not a Good Idea

A significant reorganization like the one proposed by Elaine Kamarck at Harvard would effectively set back FEMA two to four years in terms of defining lanes of responsibility and building the relationships that make an organization work. It is an rearrangement that might look good on the white board of a classroom or a Power Point slide, but it is a rearrangement the nation can’t afford.