Hardtime Finding a FEMA Chief
After searching for months for a new FEMA chief, the administration has finally admitted they're not going to get a top-tiered candidate. Although a number of experienced people were approached, not one of them was interested in taking the position. The problem is no one believes that the job is doable as it is currently defined.
"FEMA can be turned around," said Mr. Tolbert, the former director of the agency's Response Division and of the North Carolina Division of Emergency Management. "But I don't think it can be turned around within Homeland Security."
Mr. Baughman, a former senior FEMA official who worked on more than 100 disasters over three decades and who is now director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said the Bush administration was still too focused on combating terrorism, as opposed to investing in preparing for disasters of all kinds. And Congress still has not shown a willingness to invest sufficient funds into emergency planning, he said.
"To me it just doesn't make any doggone sense," he said, explaining, in part, why he did not take the job.
So the current acting head, R. David Paulison, will be named the fulltime director. Unlike the previous two FEMA heads, Joe Allbaugh and Mike Brown, Mr. Paulison has experience in the area of emergency management, but not as much as the candidates the administration was trying to woo.
As another sign that FEMA is suffering from the failures of an administration that could care less about real governing, a major challenge is to fill the 550 fulltime positions open in the department. It is worrying that the number of positions open is greater than 20% of the total agency headcount. With another hurricane season looming, the feds ability to manage more potentially catastrophic storms doesn't appear to be a very good bet.