New report outlines using private sector resources to help augment disaster response
| 04.03.2008 | 08:59:16 | Views: 3508 | ID:
April 3 '08: A new report released by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University has looked into the ways in which the private sector is able to augment, and in some salient cases, improve upon the overall federal response to a disaster. The report highlights the mechanics behind the private sector's ability to help communities recover from a disaster and the ways in which the public sector can augment those capabilities.
"Big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart were extraordinarily successful in providing help to damaged communities in the days, weeks, and months after" Hurricane Katrina when federal assistance was slow and limited in many areas. "During the Katrina relief efforts, the more successful organizations were those that had the right incentives to respond well and could tap into the local information necessary to know what that response should be," the report read.In an interview with the report's author, St. Lawrence University Professor of Economics Steven Horwitz, HS Today quoted the author: "Disaster researchers have argued that the most effective responses to disasters involve a combination of 'discipline' and 'agility'. In order for organizations to be agile and disciplined, they require both the right knowledge and the right incentives." Alluded to two examples, Horwitz said, "Wal-Mart and other big box retailers are structured so that local store managers know what's needed in their specific areas and, crucially have the power to take initiative on their own to do what needs to be done." Horwitz also said that before Hurricane Katrina even hit, "planning for the storm began days ahead of landfall. On the Friday prior to the Monday landfall, Home Depot activated the 'war room' at its Atlanta headquarters, negotiating with various vendors to get the needed supplies staged and moved into the hurricane zone. Wal-Mart's response began even earlier." Horwitz's report recommends four things policy makers could do to help leverage the best of what the private sector can do during a disaster with the foundational supports of a federal response. The recommendations include: giving the private sector "as much freedom as possible" to help provide resources and logistics as well as recognizing it as a fundamental part of the disaster response protocol; decentralizing government relief efforts to the private sector and non-governmental organizations; moving FEMA and the Coast Guard out of DHS; and "reform" the "Good Samaritan" laws to help protect citizens who are looking to help. National Blueprint Tags: Response & Containment, Economic & Infrastructure, Citizen & Community.
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