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Institutional Reforms for Federal Emergency Management Agency

Assignment on Annotated Research Bibliography

Introduction.

Institutional reform entails the processes involved in correcting violations of law, abuse of human rights and restoring accountability. The model used in this paper is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) .This agency’s roles are; Introducing measures against disaster occurrences, Instructing on what to do in case of a disaster, highlighting on the activities to counter act disaster, restoration after disasters and educating those affected as well as the rest of the people who may be prone to similar disasters. It addresses the issues that need reformation and recommends what can be done as well as a critical analysis of the existing policies and guidelines. (FEMA pp( iii)).
 
The reason as to why FEMA should be engaged in constitutional reform is because of the observations made in the various disasters that they handled. The disasters would have been handled more effectively if the following outlined measures had been put in place;
Richard skinner, Opportunities to advance FEMA‘s calamity closeout development 2010.
According to Richard, disaster preparedness is not evident in the ports serving the flood prone areas because they are not equipped with tools and resources to fight a disaster when it arises. This should be given first priority because calamities strike unexpectedly; the only solution is to anticipate them through equipping the ports as appropriate.
Accountability is also an issue of concern if we go by the research carried out by the government on the credibility of the executive staff and the people working in the finance department. They were not able to identify errors in financial reports which may be due to lack of expertise or simply lack of integrity. Changing the management of FEMA would be necessary so as to create a new team that would encourage transparency and accountability.
When Hurricane Katrina occurred in August 29, 2005, FEMA gave victims a very short period of time to file information on the extend of the damage done to their homes and property. Ambushing the victims to provide information within a limited time was a bad treatment which violets human rights. Victims are normally traumatized for example in cases where some of their relatives are missing; therefore it is advisable to have the institution set places where they can be assisted to identify their missing relatives (Egan para 18). This way they take their time and feel the empathy extended to them. Seeking assistance from the Red Cross society can also help improve the process of aiding these victims. When a disaster occurs, it calls for the shortest period of time possible so as to be attended to. Turn around time for FEMA is questionable and this is as a result of the process required for a disaster to be closed. It lacks standard operating procedures that outline who and how a disaster should be responded to, this is because this process is solely coordinated by the regional office .When a report comes, it is first handed to the headquarters who now give the appropriate actions that need to be done, which when performed the head office is again let to initiate the next step until the problem is wholly solved. This takes a lot of time and can be solved by establishing a centralized system with working standard operating procedures. With these, response would be fast because the system works as a whole and all units are aware of what is expected of them and have the power to initiate and take control of the procedures.
William Jenkins, United States congress, and house committee on homeland security, National preparedness: FEMA has made progress, but need to complete and integrate planning, 2008.
The author argues that; when a disaster occurs and is successfully closed, the restoration process follows and this has been a major challenge to FEMA. The management is exposed to risks of in accurate information and allocation of funds and resources directed to this process. This is because it gives an unnecessarily long duration of time before the restoration process is started and completed. Such loop holes have resulted in misuse of funds and resources making it hard to spare and anticipate for calamities that may occur in future. To curb such irregularities, the management should create an environment that is responsive; by ensuring that funds are readily available. This availability can be done through sparing what is not required for, or remains after the present calamity to be used in future. The accounts should not remain zero after balancing but have an amount that can be carried forward, that way funds will always be available upfront even before funding is done.
Planning is a short coming in FEMA. It does not have a laid out plan of activities and how they should be carried out to close a disaster, For instance there are no detailed procedures on how it should work with federal entities. In its effort to improve on disaster preparedness, it has adopted a national exercise program which it has not been able to implement due to lack of a standard measure for performance and effectiveness. To help improve on its operations, FEMA should develop a database that wholly involves the government and the security councils as well as the federal departments in their exercises.. This planning process requires that FEMA comes up with the five step process that involves designing the proposed action plan, analyzing the environment it will work in, setting the mission and objective, monitoring and evaluation. If such procedures are laid down then performance becomes measurable and the effectiveness can be determined. (O’Leary pp5).
Congress, Katherine Siggerud, and Port Risk Management: Additional federal guidance would Aid Ports, 2007.
During the Gulf coast hurricanes, The Red cross society joined FEMA to assist in coordinating relief services; however their efforts to assist were frustrated by the fact that FEMA could not track requests as presented by the Red Cross officials. This failure resulted in loss of most of the requests sent adding more work to the Red Cross which led to slowed relief services. The author suggests that this would have been simplified by integrating Red Cross in their activities and exercises so as to ensure that they were part of a centralized team that worked as one unit. Tracking requests fast could also be solved by FEMA employing more man power to work alongside Red cross, other than the volunteers sought by Red cross. The volunteers could only work for short periods while FEMA’S man power if employed could be available throughout the whole exercise. This would prove cost beneficial in the long run because most of the requests would be honored. Similarly during Hurricane Katrina restoration exercise, FEMA did not respond to the numerous calls for help made by the port. Getting the value of the damage caused by the hurricane using the cost estimation formula given by FEMA was hard for the Golf port and led to inaccuracy that caused a lot of confusion. To overcome this confusion Golf port was obliged to hire an external corporation to represent them in settling the issue with FEMA.Sourcing for a company to represent the port was not cost effective in the long run, therefore as outlined above, increased manpower by FEMA to assist would have been the better option.
Accessing the resources offered by FEMA to the ports was uncertain because they required them immediately but FEMA was not readily availing these. This delay was due to FEMA’s reliance on the infrastructure damaged by the disasters to deliver the resources. This could be resolved by FEMA colluding with organizations such as the Maritime vessels to help them communicate to the ports and deliver what is required as well as offer protection. This was realized later when the Maritime management had already offered to assist the ports, it would have been better had FEMA made such plans upfront before even the calamities occurred. (Tierney pp 46).
Conclusion
Disasters cannot be prevented but can be anticipated, therefore, tools that help institutions to respond fast and effectively to disaster should be employed. Such tools include; Upgraded communication equipments, increased and competent man power, Integrating institutions that are dependent on each other to work as one unit, proper plans and setting sites for data collection and storage when a disaster is being recovered.


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