GAO report finds room for command and communications improvement for FEMA and DHS
| 02.01.2006 | 07:56:55 | Views: 2404 | ID:
February 1 '06: A nonpartisan Government Accountability Office report just released says that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Brown should have been the "central focal point," of the federal response effort during Hurricane Katrina, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
In the report, the AP found the federal response was hurt by a hazy chain of command. The GAO "also found that the government still lacks sufficient plans and training programs to prepare for catastrophic disasters like the Aug. 29 storm that devastated much of the Gulf Coast area."Knight Ridder news services quoted prepared statements from GAO Comptroller General David M. Walker saying, "No one was designated in advance to lead the overall federal response in anticipation of the event despite clear warnings from the National Hurricane Center" The result, Walker said in the statement, was that the federal government "did not act decisively or quickly enough." The GAO report was presented on Wednesday to a special House investigation committee which was studying the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. In the report investigators said, "We continue to believe that a single individual directly responsible to the president must be designated to act as the central focal point to lead and coordinate the overall federal response in the event of a major catastrophe." Concerning the chain of command Walker said, "there were multiple chains of command, a myriad of approaches and processes for requesting and providing assistance and confusion about who should be advised of requests and what resources would be provided within specific timeframes," Knight Ridder said. Additionally, the GAO said it previously had warned of the dangers of a clear chain of command after Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew in 1989 and 1992 respectively. Again in 1993, many of the problems were fixed by FEMA, only to be created again in the confusion of the conglomeration of federal agencies after 9/11 which was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. The report said, "We observed an incomplete understanding of roles and responsibilities under the NRP (National Response Plan)[which] lead to misunderstandings, problems and delays, an area that training might be able to correct."
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