EM, HS, and Politics

As the mechanizations of election season warm up their engines, let’s be sure to identify the standing of candidates in regard to emergency management and homeland security policies.  While we will never get a fully accurate picture of their intentions in these programs this early on (I’m sure few candidates are even thinking about EM/HS policy aside from immigration), we can get some indication of what their thoughts are and, once primary season is over, who the final candidates might be considering to head important agencies such as DHS and FEMA.

Any examination of this history of emergency management shows that politics seem to shape the direction of what we do as much as significant disasters do.  If you are interested in reading up on this, there are two great sources I’d recommend – Emergency Management: The American Experience 1900-2010 (Rubin. 2012.) provides good summaries of benchmark disasters and legislation through the years; and Next-Generation Homeland Security: Network Federalism and the Course to National Preparedness (Morton. 2012.) provides an in-depth look at this history with detailed references to the administrations, agencies, and people involved.

Rubin and Morton References

Rubin and Morton References

While we have certainly seen an overall positive trend of progress in emergency management (which is heavily influenced and sometimes dictated by federal policy), this has come despite some political actions which have either slowed progress or sometimes fully did away with positive and effective programs.  Having major changes in policy and programs every few years has become unsustainable for our practice, especially at the local level where EM/HS programs are often coordinated by one person.  Change isn’t always bad, but changes should be put in place only after being thought-through and reviewed by professionals to ensure they are effective and sustainable – not just politically motivated.  FEMA has been doing a great job in the last several years by providing public comment periods on new and major changes to guidance.  I hope this continues.

© 2015 – Timothy Riecker

Emergency Preparedness Solutions, LLC


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