What The Heck Is This About?

Two accounts of a strange recent action taken:

(1) From USA Today on March 10: Government watchdog purges mostly positive reports on FEMA from website.

In a rare move, the government watchdog for the Federal Emergency Management Administration has removed a dozen largely positive reports evaluating how the agency responded under President Obama to several disasters from 2012 to 2016, according to an internal memo obtained by USA TODAY.

The 12 reports were rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General because they “may have not adequately answered objectives and, in some cases, may have lacked sufficient and appropriate evidence to support conclusions,” read the internal memo issued Thursday. “In an abundance of caution, we believe it best to recall the reports and not re-issue them.

(2) From The Hill, on March 10:  FEMA watchdog removes positive evaluations of agency under Obama.

As a researcher and historian in the field of emergency management, the Diva is baffled by this action.  I cannot recall a precedent for the removal of reports on disaster responses from a federal agency website. Do any of you readers have additional information about this matter?

Update on March 13: Here is the memo that explains the removal.  The Diva has copies of the deleted memos if anyone would like to do a content analysis.

4 thoughts on “What The Heck Is This About?

  1. Thanks Claire for putting this in. If there was something wrong with those reports than the new leadership of FEMA should have added the reasons why these reports were wrong or incomplete.
    I do think Craig Fugate was one of the best leaders of FEMA we have ever had in recent years. A lot of the problems that exist are the lack of strong local standards in building codes, zoning, and infrastructure requirements where national standards do not exist (e.g. electrical services) thanks to prior acts or lacks of other acts of congress.

  2. Oh c’mon Claire, “baffled?” Didn’t you ever read 1984? When I was a Watch Officer at FEMA in the summer of 2005, my team generated two National Situation Reports (NSRs) warning of Hurricane Katrina, 48 and 24 hours before landfall. When the FEMA biggies told reporters that they had little or no advance warning of the storm’s likely impacts, I would refer the reporters to the FEMA website where they could see the two NSRs for themselves. FEMA later fixed the problem…by deleting the NSRs from the website. (Naturally I had already downloaded the NSRs and saved them to my home computer for just such an eventuality.) Plus la change…

    • Yes, I had read the book. And yes I did suspect foul play.

      So far the only reply I have received (via the facebook group on EM) that might be true is that the reports did not meet Generally Accepted Government Auditing Standards. However, the person said if the standard was not met, the OIG possibly could have removed that statement from the reports and reposted rather than taking them all down.

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