Major Criticism of FEMA Spending by DHS OIG

The Diva does not usually do breaking news flashes, but a couple of fresh emails from the DHS Office of Inspector General regarding financial matters at FEMA probably are of special interest to this audience. For a full list of DHS/OIG reports dealing with FEMA, go to this website.  The two most recent releases are as follows:

OIG Audit Cites Millions in Unaccounted-for Funds

A New Orleans nonprofit that received more than $19 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damage sustained during Hurricane Katrina has so far accounted for only $5.3 million and engaged in prohibited contracting practices, according to an audit by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Homeland Security.

The OIG found that the University Of New Orleans Research and Technology Foundation (Foundation) did not follow Federal contracting guidelines, which call for “open and free competition,” as well as opportunities for small business and those owned by women or minorities. On that basis, the OIG questioned more than $9.6 million in contract payments.
OIG auditors further determined that the Foundation, which was originally awarded $12 million by FEMA, ran up $7 million in cost overruns without obtaining required permission from FEMA.

They also noted that the Foundation’s accounting for taxpayer funds was still far from complete, eight years after Katrina and an average of four years after all repair projects were completed.

Flawed FEMA System Could Hamper Disaster Relief

After spending more than $247 million on a high
tech system, the Federal Emergency Manage- ment Agency (FEMA) may still not be able to efficiently deliver emergency supplies to survivors of a catastrophic disaster, an Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit has found.

The report, “FEMA’s Logistics Supply Chain Management System May Not Be Effective During a Catastrophic Disaster,” found the system, developed over nine years, cannot interface with those of its partners and suppliers, making it difficult to track and locate emergency supplies. The report also noted that FEMA does not have enough trained employees to manage the system.

 

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Major New Report on Effects of Climate Change

From the National Geographic, Human-Caused Climate Change Worsened Heat Waves in 2013, Study Says. The climate connection to storms and droughts is less clear.

A new report attributes heat waves around the world in 2013 to human-caused climate change, but finds the link between climate change and other extreme weather events—including the California drought—to be much less certain.

The peer-reviewed report [108 pp]“Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From a Climate Perspective” examined the causes of 16 extreme events that occurred on four continents in 2013. The special report, published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, includes 22 separate analyses prepared by groups of scientists from the U.S. and U.K.

Thomas R. Karl, the director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, said in a press briefing that “being able to physically understand extreme events is absolutely critical for our ability to predict future extreme weather and understand our role in changing the climate.”

Karl noted that “extreme events are very complex and are often caused by multiple factors.” Natural variability often plays a role, he said.

This is the third annual report on the connections between individual extreme weather events and climate change, led by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Another take on the same report is this article from the Smithsonian.

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“Forget Sandy, Worst is Yet to Come”

The article titled Forget Sandy, the Worst Is Yet to Come is a news account of a Swiss Re Insurance Co. report. Some excerpts:

The chilling insurance company report * * * cautions that Hurricane Sandy was nothing more than a harsh reminder that more powerful storms – like the 156-mph Norfolk-Long Island Hurricane of 1821 – await the Jersey Shore.

Hurricane Sandy was mild compared to the 1821 Hurricane

Such a storm today as the 1821 Norfolk-Long Island Hurricane could swamp Atlantic City under a 15- to 25-foot storm surge, according to “The Big One: The East Coast’s 100 billion Hurricane Event,” produced by Swiss Re American Holding Corp.

The report breaks down the potential impact of another 1821 Hurricane in South Jersey’s Atlantic and Cape May counties a well as across the Southeast, Middle Atlantic and Northeast states. The outlook isn’t good, according to Swiss Re, the world’s second-largest insurance company.

Here is the direct link to the Swiss Re report, which is titled The big one: The East Coast’s USD 100 billion event. This 21 page publication draws on history to paint a scenario that will help plan for the future.

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New Resources from Australia

Two papers from down under that you might find interesting. From the Australian Business Roundtable site, here are two new white papers:

  •  Building an Open Platform for Disaster Resilience Decisions (released July 2014) or see the media release.
  • Building our Nation’s Resilience to Natural Disasters’ (released June 2013) or see the media release.

 

Thanks to Dudley McArdle for sending me the citation.

 

 

 

 

 

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White Paper from Climate Change Officers Assoc.

White Paper: Sea Level Rise Adaptation in the Public Sector:
Challenges, Solutions, and Opportunities. This is a 6 page report from the Association of Climate Change Officers, an organization that I just learned about.

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Recovery Lessons Learned from Oso Mudslide

From Eric Holdeman’s blog for EM magazine: Lessons Learned from the Oso, Wash., Mudslide Recovery. It has only been six months since the incident, but there are recovery lessons to be learned.

Even if mudslides are not a major threat for your community, some of the lessons re recovery planning are worth noting.

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The At-Risk Population – higher no. than you think

According to an article in USA today, More than half in U.S. at greater risk in disasters

More than 50% of the U.S. population may be in need of special attention during extreme weather events, with such emergencies putting the disabled, seniors and children at greater risk.

Nearly one in five Americans is disabled, which means about 60 million people are more at risk during times of emergency.

“Very little is known as to how to make these individuals safe,” says Irwin Redlener, head of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and one of the foremost authorities on disaster relief.

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