FEMA Diversity Action Plan
Under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the Federal Emergency Management Agency or simply FEMA. Instigated on 1st of April, 1979, FEMA purports on coordinating responses to natural and man-made disasters that threatens US national security. In line with the mission of the DHS which is to “lead the unified national effort in securing America”, FEMA aimed at responding to various disasters and ‘its terrifying consequences’ that are faced by millions of Americans each year. Their mission is “to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards including all acts of terror and natural and man-made disasters by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.”
Prior to the emergence of ad hoc legislations in response to purely natural catastrophes, FEMA’s history can be traced back to the Congressional Act of 1803, a disaster legislation that provides assistance to a New Hampshire town after an extensive fire. Through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), there had been a formalized response to the restoration of several public facilities by the 1930s. It is also during this decade that the Bureau of Public Roads and the Flood Act Control came into being. The former was the authority that provides fund for restructuring of highways and bridges while the latter gave the US Army Corps of Engineers the power to implement projects intended for flood control.
The series of natural disasters from the early 1960s to mid-1970s called for major federal response and recovery operations to which increasing legislations had been viewed to be the most plausible response. The Federal Disaster Assistance Administration was established within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In addition, the National Flood Insurance Act and the Disaster Relief Act were passed in 1968 and 1974, respectively. Nonetheless, the occurrence of otherwise more hazardous adversities associated with nuclear power plants and transportations called for unification of roles, responsibilities and functions of over 100 federal agencies into a solitary agency.
Then President Jimmy Carter centralized federal emergency functions through the 1979 executive order and merged existing agencies into Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some of these disaster-related agencies that were absorbed by FEMA while the civil defense responsibilities were transferred to a separate agency within the Defense Department as the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency. These are: Federal Insurance Administration, National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program, Federal Preparedness Agency of the General Services Administration and Federal Disaster Assistance Administration activities from HUD.
Under John Macy, the first director for FEMA came the Integrated Management System which is an all-hazards approach to combat the challenges of complex emergency management. In 1993 when James Witt was nominated to be the new FEMA director, the agency faced streamline reforms including aspects of disaster relief and recovery operations, preparedness and mitigation and also customer service. President George W. Bush appointed Joe M. Allbaugh as the new director in 2001. The September 11 attacks made the agency to realign its focus on issues of national preparedness and national security. FEMA coordinated with the Office of Homeland Security and the Office of National Preparedness was given the function as an assisting body in ensuring that first responders are well-equipped and trained in order to effectively deal with probable terror attacks.
The agency formally joined the Department of Homeland Security along with other 22 federal agencies in March 2003. Then headed by Tom Ridge, DHS employed a coordinated approach to national security in light of emergencies and disasters. When President Bush signed the Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act into law on 4 October 2006, FEMA had the opportunity to reorganize in remedying gaps leading to the occurrence of Katrina and to integrate even more robust preparedness mission.
Today, FEMA is responsible for and functions as providers of advises regarding building code and flood plain management, providers of education about responding to disasters at home levels, assisting body of local and state on issues of preparedness, coordinators of federal response to disasters, trainers of emergency managers, ensuring disaster assistance availability, supporters of fire services and administrators of the national flood and crime insurance programs. FEMA also is one of the important elements in combating transnational threats. Central to interagency cooperation, FEMA is critically need for the transition from crisis to consequence management along with other federal agencies such as FBI, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Health and Human Services and Environmental Protection Agency.
Nonetheless, FEMA also provides for protecting business, business recovery and flood maps and insurance by means of domestic and international vendors making it a transnational corporation. Marketing to FEMA means following specific guidelines set by FEMA itself such as getting listed on the electronic catalogs, the FACNET system, comprehensive Requests for Proposals (RFP), cooperative purchasing, multiple order contracts and particularity with performance ratings.
For DHS-FEMA, there are Federal Business Opportunities and Central Contractor Registration (CCR) as well as Government Contracting Institute. International vendors for this agency are central on the having access on IT-related products and services that are a necessity for FEMA. In lieu with the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) of 1994, CCR system was built for the purpose of a “single face to industry” by the Fed.
FEMA History. (2007). Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Retrieved on 23 April 2008 from http://www.fema.gov/about/history.shtm.
FEMA – What We Do. (2007). FEMA. Retrieved on 23 April 2008 from http://www.fema.gov/about/what.shtm.
Homeland Security IT Product and Service Information. Department of Homeland Security(DHS). Retrieved on 23 April 2008 from https://vendors.dhs.gov/dhspsi/index.jsp.
Pumphrey, C. W. (2000). Transnational Threats: Building Law Enforcement and Military Strategies.
Strategic Plan - Securing Our Homeland. DHS. Retrieved on 23 April 2008 from http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/strategicplan/index.shtm.
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