Is FEMA better off as an independent agency? The U.S. Council of the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM-USA) seems to think so.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was originally an independent agency until it was merged with, and classified underneath, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But many experts in the field of emergency management feel as if FEMA has gotten lost since it merged with the DHS.
The IAEM’s Position on FEMA and the DHS
At IAEM-USA’s 56th annual conference, more than 1,500 emergency management professionals created the position of separating FEMA once again to its independent status and designating the director of FEMA to a cabinet-level position. The motion was welcomed with a unanimous vote of IAEM’s Board of Directors, calling it “the right time to do the right thing.” This is in line with the opinion of many other experts in emergency management, including former FEMA Director James Lee Witt.
Many emergency management professionals feel that, since joining with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FEMA has lost its position as an admired and successful federal agency and has instead been lost in the bureaucracy of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
It is the IAEM-USA’s position that combining FEMA with the DHS’s mission of preventing future terrorist attacks has detracted the agency from its mission of disaster consequence management. The re-establishment of FEMA as an independent agency would allow all levels of government to better serve America during times of disaster.
Specifically, the work of FEMA, as an independent agency, would allow it to focus on crisis management and consequence management.
About the International Association of Emergency Managers
The International Association of Emergency Managers now has more than 4,200 members, which include emergency management professionals through state and local governments, military, tribal nations, at colleges and universities, in private businesses, and in the nonprofit sector, both in the United States and other countries.