Well for some time [actually since the unit was established in June 2009] I worried about the relationship of the NSC to civil emergency planning and preparedness and in particular in any catastrophic domestic situation. NOW Administrator FUGATE has confirmed my worst fears in his Senate Testimony yesterday before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on whether FEMA was prepared to respond to a castrophic domestic situation. Basically in discussing the ESFLAG and its duties in being the key point of coordination between FEMA and DHS and the other federal agencies he announced that all tough issues in catastrophic situations would be handed to the NSC staff unit called the “Resiliency Staff’! Personally I like the term resiliency but the last staff group that would understand why I like it and why it is an important federalism concept in the 21st Century is the NSC and its staff. Basically the military and DOD do not understand principles of federalism and even DoD’s in house experts and pathfinder group on federalism policy better known as the National Guard is not completely trusted in DOD even though an argument can be made it has pulled more than its fair share in Iraq and Afghanistan. The NG should be running NORTHCOM!
Well the procedures and processes for coordination of the ESFLAG with the Resiliency Group should be made available for public comment. Some who have no memory don’t understand that President Bill Clinton and his FEMA Director James Lee Witt put out of business something called the Catastrophic Disaster Response Group [CDRG] composed of Assistant Secretary types or their designees and was the place to referee interagency disputes and dilemmas arising out of catstrophic events. Then those that could not be resolved went to the Domestic Policy Council for WH resolution. Naturally Director Witt wanted no inference that he could not handle the flow of decisions to the WH during a catastrophe which is why his largely personalized system which did work well in many small events–most of those that Clinton faced as President–was effective.
Of course this personalized system was one reason that the Bush Administration came to town with an axe to grind about FEMA and its Director’s clout. Well that ended March 1, 2003 when folded into DHS if not long before when the big Texan Joe Allbaugh ran FEMA for two years.
Still it is a shock to see in writing and in testimony that the NSC now runs civil emergency management on the big issues.
Good luck Resilency staff and wondering when you might get out a revised HSPD-5 and 8?