Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has come a long way from Hurricane Andrew. Part of that observation is triggered by the recent Twitter event with Chief Paulison and the conference call this weekend with ADM Johnson.

During the latter, my questions centered around two areas:

1) Employees
2) Public Affairs

When asked what qualities FEMA sought in hiring disaster assistance employees and green cards.

One important word that jumped out was Integrity.

Reference.com defines Integrity as "adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty."

It's about time. http://snipurl.com/aerm5 [www_google_com] lists a number of times with "FEMA employees" are arrested for a number of charges.

It is encouraging to see FEMA address the new way of doing things, including investing in training and benefits for Disaster Assistance Employees as they "recognize how important they are."

In the area of FEMA Public Affairs, it has been observed the staff are more engaged in correcting media reports during disasters. This is important in getting the right information to the right people so they can make the right decision.

FEMA Public Affairs deserves a round of applause for reaching out to the Citizens by using Twitter (@femainfocus) to engage a Citizenry that seems to not understand the role of the Federal Government in disasters. There has even been an attempt to address the FEMA "concentration" and "death" camp issues that have moved over from USENET conspiracy folks to Twitter.

Take-aways from the conference call included Johnson comments on GAP analysis, Position of Heightened Alert (where FEMA focuses people and stuff with the events in DC being an example), CPG-1, the local government planning document, and the strength of the Regional offices.

"Career leaders are not going away," said Johnson.

Johnson was asked if FEMA has plans to address climate change said, "If it plays, it plays in Mitigation." Good words of encouragement come to the newly formed National Hazard Mitigation Association. http://nhma.info/

The one question asked of Johnson, "How do you see the relationship between Homeland Security and FEMA", produced the answer that he sees DHS and FEMA having common goals, according to Homeland Security Presendential Directive Five, of response and recovery.

According to HSPD-5, Homeland Security should "prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies". It appears to very much mirror the mitigation, response, recovery, and plans that have been emergency management operatives for so many years.

In the lessons learned from Twitter, many questions were answered by Paulison. However, some questions were missed because the user failed to use #femadrp in the message.

http://www.fema.gov/pdf/media/2009/2009_01_12_twitter_event.pdf is the transcript of the Twitter event.

It is encouraging to see FEMA reaching out to local governments (not that the States have not). Events like these make local folks feel as if they really ARE valued partners in the emergency management process.

As one Tweet stated, "@kc5fm FEMA has been aggressively ramping up their social media efforts -- kudos to them!"

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/transition2009.pdf describes the new FEMA.

The New Boss has a new opportunity to support the New FEMA. Will he?

We can hope.

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