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The Govenmental Response to Hurricane Katrina. PADM 523 & 524—Summer 2011 P rofessor Mario Rivera. Layered and sequenced Response Strategy. Capabilities and Resources. Federal Response. State Response. Regional / Mutual Response Systems. Local Response, Municipal and County.

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the govenmental response to hurricane katrina

The Govenmental Response to Hurricane Katrina

PADM 523 & 524—Summer 2011

Professor Mario Rivera

layered and sequenced response strategy
Layered and sequenced Response Strategy

Capabilities and Resources

Federal Response

State Response

Regional / Mutual Response Systems

Local Response, Municipal and County

Minimal Low Medium High Catastrophic

Increasing magnitude and severity

federal state local relations and katrina
Federal-State-Local Relations and Katrina
  • Louisiana Governor Blanco had requested “emergency protective measures, [in particular] direct Federal Assistance.” The governor was frustrated that FEMA’s Brown wanted itemized requests, and that, in general, she could not get the “feds” to respond. Her appeal: “Mr. President, we need your help. We need everything you've got.”
  • While Blanco may have over-relied on a federal response that was slow to come, she also exhibited great reluctance to federalize the state’s response to Katrina, specifically in her refusal federalization of the Louisiana National Guard. Brown seemed to rely overmuch on the layered and stage-wise response to major emergencies envisioned in FEMA protocols and in the National Incident Management System.
new orleans mayor ray nagin
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin
  • Nagin complained that federal officials “don’t have a clue what’s going on down here.” He complained that Bush and Blanco could not come to agreement concerning the federal role (For his part, Brown blamed Nagin and Blanco for their disagreements). Blanco blocked Nagin’s belated compulsory evacuation order until that kind of evacuation became inevitable. The Red Cross was stymied by Blanco as well. She barred them from access to the city on the grounds that it was not safe to approach the Superdome.
  • Was Blanco’s reticence toward the President justified? Some see Blanco exhibiting the so-called “fundamental attribution bias” toward Bush, personalizing their interaction and projecting nefarious motives to him re ‘her’ National Guard.’
limits on the use of the u s military
Limits on the use of the U.S. military
  • The Insurrection Act of 1795 permits the use of federal troops on U.S. soil to put down violence. But the Posse Comitatus Act (“power of the county”) of 1878 forbids the military from performing civilian law enforcement without congressional approval.
posse comitatus act 18 u s c 1385
Posse Comitatus Act—18 U.S.C. 1385
  • Latin for “power or force of the county.” The Posse Comitatus Act was originally enacted in 1878; intended to ensure military subordination to a strong civil authority
  • “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than two years, or both.”
  • What is “direct assistance”? Active, as opposed to passive, use of military personnel; or if it pervades/fully subsumes the activities of civilian law enforcement; or if military personnel subject citizens to the exercise of military power that is regulatory (controls or directs), proscriptive (prohibits or condemns), or compulsory (exerts some coercive force) in nature.
the stafford act
The Stafford Act

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (1988) calls for disaster and emergency declarations for events that overwhelm state and local capability. These trigger statutory authority and access on the part of FEMA to a Disaster Relief Fund to provide federal direct aid and financial assistance to render emergency services. Along with the legislation that created the agency, this Act authorizes FEMA to coordinate the administration of all disaster relief.

A Governor must execute the given State’s emergency plan and indicate in writing that the situation is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and affected local governments and supplemental Federal assistance is necessary.


the stafford act1
The Stafford Act
  • A Declaration made by the President specifies the types of assistance authorized.
  • A Governor’s request is not necessary for the President to issue an emergency declaration if the emergency involves a “Federal primary responsibility.” Such responsibility rests with the United States because the emergency involves a subject area for which, under the Constitution or laws of the United States, the United States exercises exclusive or preeminent responsibility and authority. Direct federal action was therefore justified in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995, the Pentagon attack on 9/11, and the Space Shuttle Columbia explosion in 2003.
research findings various studies
Research Findings—various studies
  • Early presidential involvement is necessary for a timely, well-coordinated federal response. And the President must have the counsel of emergency management professionals in order to make appropriate and timely decisions.
  • Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt predicted that “The emphasis on terrorism preparedness in the aftermath of September 11th, [and] the transfer of FEMA to the Department of Homeland Security may result in decreased emphasis on mitigation and natural hazards” Former President Bill Clinton argued that it should be “required that any future head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency have prior experience in emergency management. When a disaster strikes, that person [the FEMA director] becomes the most important person in the federal government.” However, the Directorship became a patronage job—hence Brown’s appointment.
research findings various studies1
Research Findings—various studies
  • When it comes to governmental bureaucracies, bigger is not necessarily better. Once absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA lost its cabinet level status and budget independence. Removing FEMA from the DHS and re-establishing it as an independent agency with a cabinet-level Director responsible directly to the president would position it better and give it the resources to accomplish its goals and respond to disasters – natural or man-made. In any case, moving it from the Executive Office of the President to DHS degraded its capabilities. Regardless of the location in the federal government, FEMA’s Director must have a direct reporting relationship to the President during periods of disaster and emergency declarations.

Kettl, Donald F. (2007). System Under Stress: Homeland Security and American Politics. 2nd Ed. Washington D.C.: Congressional Quarterly.

creation of the dhs post september 11 2001
Evaluation of homeland security responsibilities after 9/11 showed 112 different federal agencies, entities, or departments having some role in protecting and safeguarding the U.S. Highlighted the need for interagency cooperation, solid working relationships between local, state, and federal entities.

Consolidation of agencies and duties in a new Department of Homeland Security was considered a requirement for effective homeland defense.

Integration of threat analysis, information-sharing, and intelligence across Federal agencies and down to state and municipal governments was required, as well as a general increase in scope of Federal law enforcement role. However, the FBI, CIA, and Defense intelligence agencies kept themselves out of DHS and resist any exercise of its jurisdiction.

Subordinating the FEMA disaster-response mission and role to that of terror-response seriously weakened agency capabilities. Moreover, there was then an exodus of its top-flight officials.

Creation of the DHS post-September 11, 2001

What processes and practices will improve cooperation, communication, coordination, consensus-seeking behavior, relationship-building, capacity-building, information sharing, integration, network management, joint operations, inter-operability, trust, and flexible adaptive approaches to disasters like Katrina? What will advance collaboration among federal, state, and local emergency management and other agencies, and nonprofit and for-profit actors?


We need networks of horizontal relationships. We [also] need strong vertical lines in our organizations. Hierarchy provides the critical, unifying structure to the capacity of complex organizations. But we need horizontal relationships to put that capacity to work. We need to organize vertically and to work horizontally.

collaborative public management
Collaborative Public Management

A concept that describes the process of facilitating, and operating in, multi-organizational arrangements to solve problems that cannot be solved or easily solved by single organizations. It means to co-production, cooperation to achieve common goals, and work across boundaries in multisector relationships. Cooperation is based on the values of reciprocity, trust, and mutual respect. In these contexts, clarity of roles and responsibilities is essential, since these tend to blur in networked arrangements.

collaborative public management1
Collaborative Public Management
  • Intrinsically, homeland security and emergency management involve overwhelming challenges and intractable problems
  • Collaboration in homeland security and emergency management
    • Personal familiarity makes communication and collaboration possible; interpersonal contact occurs during working relationships
    • Strong working relationships build trust and enable collaboration. Shared mission, joint exercises are therefore essential.
intergovernmental relations
Intergovernmental Relations

Definition: formal and functional relationships between or among levels and agencies of government

  • Increasingly important. Why?
  • IGRs and Implementation: The more layers and the greater the number of linkages, the more complex and difficult implementation and accountability become; however, crises require ‘requisite variety’ or correspondingly complex responses.
  • What is federalism in relation to Intergovernmental Relations?
  • Layer cake vs. Marble cake
  • Constitution ensured flexibility in Intergovernmental Relations
  • Federal system creates—guarantees—a system of IGRs
  • Federalism as “middle ground” between confederation and unitary system
  • History of confederation in the U.S.—Articles of Confederation did not work to create a viable nation-state.
  • Relationship between central government and constituent governments
  • Constitution not always clear on federal responsibilities vs. state responsibilities, plus roles and the distribution of power has shifted, evolved
  • Key issue is who is responsible for what
  • Framers balanced weak with strong central government structure—distributed, fragmented power while requiring shared governance
forms of federal influence
Forms of Federal Influence
  • Direct orders
  • Cross-cutting requirements
  • Crossover sanctions
  • Partial pre-emptions
  • “Unfunded mandates” (also found in State-Local authority relationships)
  • Dispositional conflicts arise from differences in capabilities, authority clashes, and communications problems
  • Horizontal versus vertical IGRs
capability enforcement
  • How to increase likelihood state/local implementers act consistent with policy
  • No simple hierarchy of officials in IG system
  • Complex, difficult
  • Uniform policy statements are rare, can be distorted
  • Conflicting directives are very common
  • Policy ambiguity exacerbates coordination and compliance problems
  • How the federal government can achieve compliance
    • Norms
    • Incentives
    • Sanctions
decision points and disagreements as impediments to coordination
Decision Points and Disagreements as Impediments to Coordination
  • Each point where agreement is required
  • Each point where separate participant must give consent is a “clearance point”

Problems common to IGRs and networks in general:

  • Incompatibility of organizational commitments
  • Different organizational preferences
  • Commitment to other projects
  • Lack of a sense of urgency
  • Difference of opinion on organizational roles
  • Resource and authority differentials
joint decision making and problem solving
Joint Decision Making and Problem Solving
  • Need a well-managed decisional process
    • Develop clear rules for who is involved, what gets decided, how it is decided, and institutionalize the rules—reasonably
    • Joint decision making is a challenge
  • Importance of trust and social norms
    • Need interactive, on-going process that builds trust and personal relationships
    • Important governance mechanism that lowers transaction costs and promotes efficient resource exchanges
    • Builds slowly, is destroyed quickly, and needs maintenance
allocating resources
Allocating Resources
  • Intergovernmental grant system
    • The one who controls the resources sets the priorities
    • Hard to maintain a systematic approach to problem solving if external funding agency changes its priorities frequently
    • Distributional problems and instability, unpredictability of funding
    • Grants administration and paperwork
  • Stability is important
    • Facilitates repeated interactions
    • Allows participants to plan and budget with confidence
    • Reduces transaction costs related to finding funding
  • Need sufficient, ‘slack’ resources to support collaborative efforts
    • Legislatures and agencies often allow little discretion
    • If partners contribute nothing more than staff to attend meetings, then it is unlikely the group can accomplish much
institutional design
Institutional Design
  • Avoid viewing conflict, duplication, and fragmentation as always being bad—It can reflect competing ideas, stimulate innovation, technical specialization, economies of scale, and protect the interests of competing constituencies
  • Constraints on action, incentives for non-cooperative behavior
    • Turf guarding, conflicting budgetary and statutory responsibilities, competing programmatic priorities, etc.
    • Asymmetries of information, resources, and power
  • Avoid a “centralized is best” mindset
    • Tendency to try and manage all activities univocally
    • By way of contrast, you could use series of targeted efforts involving only the actors you need—this approach can reduce transaction costs, increase information flow, and allow collaborators to negotiate with each other
  • Accountability is a fundamental principle of public administration
    • Accountability for what? To whom?
    • Internal vs. external, formal vs. informal
    • Hierarchical, legal, professional, political, and ethical in nature
  • Accountability can be a “two-edged” sword
    • Specific goals, objectives, and monitoring processes provide incentives and structural frameworks for joint action
    • Monitoring processes create peer pressure at the political, professional, and individual level
    • But there is a constant tension between organizational autonomy and accountability
    • Too much accountability in the form of control can create disincentives for joint action
    • Networked responses bring to bear multiple streams of accountability, which may become analog of bureaucratic accountability problems—Where does the ‘buck’ stop?
strategies for network governance
Strategies for Network Governance
  • Building Networks
    • Interdependent structures involving multiple organizations with some degree of structural stability from formal or informal linkages
    • Relations involve personal relationships, communication, information exchange, exchange of goods, services, or resources, and service delivery
  • Collaboration
    • Collaboration is a particular type of network relationship
    • Two or more organizations work together to deliver services and produce more public value than could be produced when they act alone, whether at operational, policy making, or institutional levels
strategies for network governance1
Strategies for Network Governance
  • Need for Performance Management and Accountability Systems
    • Includes goals, performance measures, monitoring, and reporting processes
    • Used for evaluation and enhances accountability
    • Steering, coordinating, and setting priorities for organizations in a network
    • Motivating network members to take actions that advance shared goals, objectives, or policies
    • Promoting and celebrating progress by network participants
    • Encouraging organizational learning
    • Addressing questions of competing interests and values
improving systemic network governance
Improving Systemic Network Governance
  • When viewed from an network perspective, you improve management of networked, IGR systems by
    • Building, enhancing, expanding, or changing interorganizational networks
    • Managing existing networks more effectively
    • Maintaining and improving network relationships
    • Altering, changing, or improving how decisions are made both within and across organizations (integration and coordination)
    • Building new institutional or quasi-institutional arrangements that improve problem solving capacity
networks can create opportunities
Networks can create opportunities
  • Complex networked systems can create opportunities for collaboration so as to
    • Get things done (project-level) and solve joint problems
    • Share knowledge, resources, funding
    • Develop shared policies, norms, expectations to improve coordination, creating new co-production capabilities
  • Generate public value
    • Accomplish things that cannot be done when working alone
    • Improve capacity to solve problems
    • Stimulate organizational learning and innovation
    • Improve government service delivery (efficiency, effectiveness, accountability, customer satisfaction, etc.)
    • Improve social capital/civil society