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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
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FEMA is stronger now (hahahaha)

Effort to Cut FEMA Red Tape Knocked Back

By JOHN MORENO GONZALES – 19 hours ago

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A week after Hurricane Katrina, a FEMA official in charge of streamlining the flow of disaster aid issued a directive that would have cut through the red tape and expedited a staggering 1,029 rebuilding projects and $5.3 billion.

The official issued a memo that said that once local and regional Federal Emergency Management Agency officials approve a project, Washington must release the money within three days.

But in a decision critics say led to the loss of precious time in New Orleans' recovery, FEMA higher-ups countermanded the order.

Instead, the rebuilding of schools, roads, hospitals, firehouses and other desperately needed infrastructure was held up for months of interagency reviews that ended at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Gil Jamieson, FEMA's head of Gulf Coast recovery and one of the officials who countermanded the directive of Nancy Ward, said her order would have given federal agencies too little time to review requests for funding.

"There's certainly a responsibility that we have, and I have, as a civil service official, to ensure those dollars are going to the purposes they were intended," he said.

However, despite FEMA's contention added layers of review would save taxpayer dollars, not a single rebuilding project was amended, declared ineligible or kicked back for further scrutiny, federal officials acknowledge.

Ward, who later was promoted to FEMA's West Coast director and led its response to the recent California wildfires, stands by the policy she issued on Sept. 6, 2005. She was FEMA's Louisiana-based director of recovery command.

"We knew given the enormity of Katrina that we needed to get the money out quickly," said Ward, who was contacted after the Associated Press found her memo on the Web site of the Louisiana legislative auditor.

The procedure Ward wanted to shorten involves FEMA's "million-dollar queue," a basket in its computer system. It was created in 2000, when FEMA was an independent Cabinet-level agency, to handle projects of $1 million or more.

It was supposed to work like this: Once projects received the OK from local and regional officials, they were sent to the queue as a way of notifying Congress. The money for the project was supposed to be released within three days after that.

But when the Department of Homeland Security took over FEMA in 2003, the superagency decided to subject projects to additional layers of review — FEMA offices in Washington, then Homeland Security, then OMB.

The result of the added paper-pushing: After what should have been a momentum-building first year of recovery, a list of projects in the queue provided by Louisiana officials showed delays as long as 101 days, with an average of 34. As delays grew in 2006-07, frustrated state officials complained to FEMA. The longest waits dropped to 22 days.

But state officials said the damage had been done.

"We discovered there was a black hole where all projects over a million dollars were sent," said Andy Kopplin, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "This is certainly not true to the federal government's promise to rebuild."

"Taking a single memo out of context seldom tells the full story," said Homeland Security spokesman William R. Knocke. "More than two years of review into lessons learned (from Katrina) have made FEMA vastly stronger and more agile."

OMB spokesman Sean Kevelighan said its review commonly takes a day.

A total of 1,029 hurricane rebuilding projects in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with a combined value of $5.3 billion have been put in the queue.

Before any disaster project even gets to the queue, FEMA field officials scrutinize it down to the smallest details, such as the number of pencils lost at a school. The findings then go to FEMA regional clearinghouses, where they are further examined. The process takes months, even more than a year, and generates mountains of paperwork — in some cases, more than 1,000 pages per project.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the system is bloated and shrouded in mystery.

"The House of Representatives called the federal government's response to Katrina and Rita `a failure of initiative,' and the resistance to clearing this bureaucratic roadblock is a sign of that failure," she said.

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and thats what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Botnst View Post
Effort to Cut FEMA Red Tape Knocked Back

By JOHN MORENO GONZALES – 19 hours ago

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A week after Hurricane Katrina, a FEMA official in charge of streamlining the flow of disaster aid issued a directive that would have cut through the red tape and expedited a staggering 1,029 rebuilding projects and $5.3 billion.

The official issued a memo that said that once local and regional Federal Emergency Management Agency officials approve a project, Washington must release the money within three days.

But in a decision critics say led to the loss of precious time in New Orleans' recovery, FEMA higher-ups countermanded the order.

Instead, the rebuilding of schools, roads, hospitals, firehouses and other desperately needed infrastructure was held up for months of interagency reviews that ended at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Gil Jamieson, FEMA's head of Gulf Coast recovery and one of the officials who countermanded the directive of Nancy Ward, said her order would have given federal agencies too little time to review requests for funding.

"There's certainly a responsibility that we have, and I have, as a civil service official, to ensure those dollars are going to the purposes they were intended," he said.

However, despite FEMA's contention added layers of review would save taxpayer dollars, not a single rebuilding project was amended, declared ineligible or kicked back for further scrutiny, federal officials acknowledge.

Ward, who later was promoted to FEMA's West Coast director and led its response to the recent California wildfires, stands by the policy she issued on Sept. 6, 2005. She was FEMA's Louisiana-based director of recovery command.

"We knew given the enormity of Katrina that we needed to get the money out quickly," said Ward, who was contacted after the Associated Press found her memo on the Web site of the Louisiana legislative auditor.

The procedure Ward wanted to shorten involves FEMA's "million-dollar queue," a basket in its computer system. It was created in 2000, when FEMA was an independent Cabinet-level agency, to handle projects of $1 million or more.

It was supposed to work like this: Once projects received the OK from local and regional officials, they were sent to the queue as a way of notifying Congress. The money for the project was supposed to be released within three days after that.

But when the Department of Homeland Security took over FEMA in 2003, the superagency decided to subject projects to additional layers of review — FEMA offices in Washington, then Homeland Security, then OMB.

The result of the added paper-pushing: After what should have been a momentum-building first year of recovery, a list of projects in the queue provided by Louisiana officials showed delays as long as 101 days, with an average of 34. As delays grew in 2006-07, frustrated state officials complained to FEMA. The longest waits dropped to 22 days.

But state officials said the damage had been done.

"We discovered there was a black hole where all projects over a million dollars were sent," said Andy Kopplin, executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. "This is certainly not true to the federal government's promise to rebuild."

"Taking a single memo out of context seldom tells the full story," said Homeland Security spokesman William R. Knocke. "More than two years of review into lessons learned (from Katrina) have made FEMA vastly stronger and more agile."

OMB spokesman Sean Kevelighan said its review commonly takes a day.

A total of 1,029 hurricane rebuilding projects in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with a combined value of $5.3 billion have been put in the queue.

Before any disaster project even gets to the queue, FEMA field officials scrutinize it down to the smallest details, such as the number of pencils lost at a school. The findings then go to FEMA regional clearinghouses, where they are further examined. The process takes months, even more than a year, and generates mountains of paperwork — in some cases, more than 1,000 pages per project.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the system is bloated and shrouded in mystery.

"The House of Representatives called the federal government's response to Katrina and Rita `a failure of initiative,' and the resistance to clearing this bureaucratic roadblock is a sign of that failure," she said.
Before we can even begin to look at reforming IRS or the Federal Reserve we have to look at this kind of crap.

While we look at earmarks as bad, just looking at the 1029 projects that are in Limbo here, and the time it is going to take to administer any kind of voting on them is more than offset by the Fuck-factor to the residents of NOLA who just keep getting screwed even though this Administration promised hundreds of times [damned near every time a camera or microphone was turned on] that the people of NO would be taken care of. And that was a Republican Administration with a Republican Congress while Bushie's Veto pen was in retirement in Boca.

Heck of a Job!!!

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 01:35 PM
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Communism works too, ON PAPER.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 01:47 PM
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Communism works too, ON PAPER.
I am sure there is a concept just squealing to get out of that sentence. Would you care to embellish just a bit so that it does not feel so lonesome, lost without a foundation.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 02:03 PM Thread Starter
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I'll take a stab at it.

On paper, FEMA should have worked and should work now.

On paper, the local government is supposed to take the lead in any disaster. If it is incapable, then the state gov. steps in. If it is incapable, then the Governor requests federal assistance BEFORE the feds send-in their forces. Speaking as somebody who was on the ground 1 day after Katrina, I have no problem saying that FEMA didn't know WTF to do so instead of doing SOMETHING, the set-about to create a functioning bureaucracy from teh remnants of the various local governments. That was what FEMA was designed to do -- not primary rescue.

On paper, every year the local, state, and fed gov agencies got together and ran a simulated disaster in NOLA called Hurricane Pam. It was a category 3 hurricane because the USACE said that they could not model a disaster greater than a category 3 -- their systems would fail.

On paper Hurricane Pam, every year, indicated that communications would be the major problem and that there were insufficient 1st responders in the greater NOLA area to deal with the disaster. Every year the local, state and feds said they would seek funding to correct the problems. EVERY YEAR they were turned-down by the local councils, state legislature and federal government.

On paper, it is all corrected.

B

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and thats what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 02:05 PM
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I am sure there is a concept just squealing to get out of that sentence. Would you care to embellish just a bit so that it does not feel so lonesome, lost without a foundation.
Well if you insist, but just this once. Putting FEMA under the direction of Homeland Security was probably not a good idea since the last thing New Orleans needs is yet another shift of government appropriation for funds desperately needed to rebuild their infrastructure. Basically, putting something like this under the Homeland Security SUPER AGENCY is like Communism, it may work but it only works on paper.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 02:10 PM
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I'll take a stab at it.


B
Good analysis EXCEPT we are talking about the FEMA committed Federal projects, and the inability of the promised monies to work their way through the Federal system, not the Cluster Fuck that was the initial Katrina Disaster.

Note the subtle difference.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by mistress View Post
Well if you insist, but just this once. Putting FEMA under the direction of Homeland Security was probably not a good idea since the last thing New Orleans needs is yet another shift of government appropriation for funds desperately needed to rebuild their infrastructure. Basically, putting something like this under the Homeland Security SUPER AGENCY is like Communism, it may work but it only works on paper.
Yup, and that is essentially why Dr. Paul wants to dismantle Homeland Security altogether.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by mistress View Post
Well if you insist, but just this once. Putting FEMA under the direction of Homeland Security was probably not a good idea since the last thing New Orleans needs is yet another shift of government appropriation for funds desperately needed to rebuild their infrastructure. Basically, putting something like this under the Homeland Security SUPER AGENCY is like Communism, it may work but it only works on paper.
That makes much more sense. Thank you. I knew a discussion was possible with the first one, just didn't know where or how.

The question then becomes however is the problem from within the FEMA sub-organization and their self imposed red tape, from the clumsy DHS bureaucracies or from Congress' inability to cut loose funds [a problem flagged during the 2006 elections]?

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 12-19-2007, 02:16 PM
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The entire Department of HS is a fool's idea. We already had one called "The Justice Department".

The reason FEMA doesn't work is because the GOP does not want any federal agency to actually work.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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