Federal Government Is Not a Reliable Partner

From Homeland Security Today: PERSPECTIVE: The Lingering Scars of the Government Shutdown on Contractors

There was a time when the government was seen as the most stable customers that any company could possess. While not always timely or efficient, government still operated with regularity and dependability. But that is no longer true. Reliable budget and appropriation cycles no longer occur as continuing resolutions and short-term funding bills increasingly provide incremental “pay as you go government.” That’s a dreadful enough environment to operate in as a government but it’s even more precarious if you’re a government contractor who is dedicated to supporting that customer.

DHS has long been a mixed bag in terms of being a dependable customer. While certainly funded with deep pockets for most of its operations, poorly defined requirements, procurement operations challenges, frequent leadership vacuums and less than stellar engagements with the private sector have made DHS a customer with which many companies are refraining from doing business. Add to those conditions the prospect of being obligated to perform government support functions, and then not get paid because the administration and Congress can’t fulfill their budgetary responsibilities, and you can understand why there is a bitter taste in their mouth.

The Diva would add that recent threats to holding back promised federal funds for recovery in Puerto Rico and the CA wildfires, to name just two major disasters, is another reason why the federal government is not a reliable partner.

FEMA is Underperforming re Puerto Rico Recovery

From Politico:  FEMA’s staffing lags well behind its post-Puerto Rico goals.The disaster agency promised to hire more people and improve training after 2017. It failed to meet its targets for both.

But 15 months after Hurricane Maria crashed into Puerto Rico, killing 2,975 people, and almost six months after FEMA released its after-action assessment, the agency is lagging significantly behind its targets in training and recruiting, according to a POLITICO review.

FEMA’s Role in CA Fires

FEMA has kept a lower profile in Camp Fire than after hurricanes. Here’s the reason.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has directed far less resources to helping California cope with the devastating Camp Fire than it typically sends to states dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane, or other natural disasters. But experts say that’s by design, as California’s robust disaster response planning and operations make the feds less necessary in the early stages of fighting a disaster.

2018 National Preparedness Report

From the Homeland Security Digital Library: FEMA National Preparedness Report 2018. The report is 62 pages.

 The National Preparedness Report is a requirement of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act and a key element of the National Preparedness System. This annual report evaluates progress and challenges that individuals and communities, private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and all levels of government have faced in preparedness. The report offers all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and the public practical insights into preparedness to support decisions about program priorities, resource allocation, and community actions.

Another Serious Cutback in Services – for the Disability Community

From PBS: As disasters strike, advocates worry FEMA policy changes put disability community at risk.  An excerpt:

FEMA deploys teams of Disability Integration Advisors to provide assistance to those with disabilities during federally declared natural disasters, such as hurricanes, wildfires and floods. In the past, this included providing disability training to FEMA employees, as well as assessing what technical assistance people needed, like hearing amplifiers or sign-language interpreters. The roles of DIAs continued after the disaster, helping people find appropriate housing and avoid having to go to nursing homes.

But back in May, FEMA said it was reducing the number of DIAs per disaster from 60 to 5. For every major storm in the past, such as the 2016 flooding in Louisiana, FEMA deployed between 60 and 65 DIAs. During Florence last month, FEMA sent five advisors to North Carolina and two to South Carolina.

Critique of FEMA’s Handling of Recovery

From the NY Times, this analysis of disaster recovery in U.S.: As Storms Keep Coming, FEMA Spends Billions in ‘Cycle’ of Damage and Repair. Here is an excerpt:

FEMA’s public assistance program has provided at least $81 billion in this manner to state, territorial and local governments in response to disasters declared since 1992, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data. But an examination of projects across the country’s ever-expanding flood zones reveals that decisions to rebuild in place, often made seemingly in defiance of climate change, have at times left structures just as defenseless against the next storm.