Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FEMA Can Estimate, But Can It Measure?

FEMA Deputy Administrator Timothy Manning stated that he believed that $29 million in funds to the Federal Emergency Management Administration within Homeland Security had helped prepare for potential terrorists attacks, but that he could not measure these benefits nor develop a return on investment for the funds. Congressmen Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX) criticized FEMA for slow performance towards measuring effectiveness of emergency response programs and also indicated that Congress was likely to overturn recent FEMA policy barring states and municipalities from using new Homeland Security funds to maintain assets acquired with previous funding.

FEMA appears to be a political trap for the unwary; its dubious performance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina spelled the beginning of the end for George W. Bush's political popularity. Manning deserves some sympathy as benefits from insurance are hard to measure when no insurable events occur; nevertheless, taxpayers deserve some assurance that their tax dollars are not being wasted.


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