NOTE: The Diva considers this a significant article.
Trust deficit: Japanese communities and the challenge of rebuilding Tohoku, by Daniel P Aldrich , Northeastern University. Forthcoming in Japan Forum (2017)
Thanks to the author for sending the link to this pre-publication version.
The Diva found the article quite interesting, as did fellow blogger Eric Holdeman. See also the comment from Jerry Quinn in the section below.
Another comment from Jerry Quinn:
FEMA, the DHS OIG and Congress an untrustworthy trio. The taxpayers, visited by a disaster event, face an unreliable future. The federal government has made land use decisions longer that all the states, except the original 13. Land masses were bought, laws encouraged western expansion and wars were fought. Yet the beltway blames the victims of circumstances beyond their control. Can they somehow undo the sunk costs they set in motion?
Between 2002 and 2015 there have been, on average, just under 59 Presidential major disaster declarations per year. All but three were declared under the Stafford Act. The range is 99 declarations in 2011 to 44 declarations in 2015. Most declarations include the Public Assistance grants program. Individual Assistance is made available (2009-2016 to date), on average in just over 25% of the declarations. The IA range is a low of 8% in 2013 and the high was in 2009 @ 35.6% of declarations.
The denial rate of gubernatorial major disaster declaration requests has more than doubled between 2009 (7.8%) to a high of 25% in 2013. For 2016, to date, 22% of such requests have been denied. (IA and denial data for 2002-2008 was not readily retrievable from the FEMA website. All other data culled from the FEMA site.)
FEMA just announced another “New Public Assistance Program” sans any changes to laws, regulations or policies. If somehow this saves the federal government money that is great. Why is a different result expected under repetitive actions and decision trees?
The degradation of the national disaster response and recovery program began in 1995 and continues. Assistance is harder and more expensive to get. Closing the book on a declared event is nigh impossible.
FEMA has been getting away with treating one disaster declaration criterion as a threshold. Apparently Congress not only winks but encourages it.
The DHS OIG continues its six-year war on procurement compliance at a tremendous cost (Look up how much CRS says DHS OIG audit costs are). FEMA disagreed (rejected) over 90% of their “findings.” The OIG investigates a very small number of complaints filed on the Fraud, Waste and Abuse hotline. Criminal convictions or personnel actions are taken in even less.
The DHS OIG claims itself cost effective by its “funds to be put to better use determination”. Best I can determine the vast majority of the funds never left the federal treasury. Deobligating previously obligated funds may make a budgetary adjustment. If the funds never left the US Treasury what is the benefit?
Congress undermined the Stafford Act by changing its intent from expediting disaster recovery to saving the federal government money. Such is a net positive only if such savings do not just transfer the costs back to the states and locals (See recent National Association of Counties (NACo) testimony.)
Do not have major disaster on your watch. In Hurricane Andrew (1992) 9 of 13 department heads of a very small Florida city quit in the first weeks. Were they wise or irresponsible? The jury is out.
Thanks for sharing this one. I blogged on it. We have a similar set up for failure and destroying trust here in the USA when spin masters get involved.
Eric E. Holdeman