Senior Seminar Project
Senior Seminar Project
Professor: Doris Mitchell
Assignment #5: Senior Seminar Project
In Week 1 you chose a topic area and problem or challenge within that area. Throughout this course, you have researched the dynamics of the problem. The final piece of your project is develop a viable solution that considers resources, policy, stakeholders, organizational readiness, administrative structures and other internal and external factors, as applicable. Using the papers you have written throughout this course, consolidate your findings into a succinct project. At a minimum, your project should include:
1. Identify the topical area (e.g. local police department, community jail, border patrol)
2. Define a problem or challenge within your topical area that you understand in some depth or have an interest in (examples include high crime rate, poor morale, high levels of violence or recidivism, high number of civilian complaints of harassment, inadequate equipment). Outline the context of the problem or challenge, including the history and any policy decisions that have contributed to the situation.
3. How have internal or external stakeholders influenced the situation in a positive or negative way? How will you consider stakeholders in your solution to the problem? How will you motivate individuals to buy into your solution?
4. Discuss how technologies or information systems have contributed to the problem and how you will propose technology be implemented into the solution.
5. Discuss what data you have collected or researched to indicate there is a problem. Include at least two sources of data and how each is relevant to the problem.
6. Develop an effective and efficient solution(s) and a course of action (i.e. plan) that addresses the problem or challenge.
7. Explain what methods of assessment you will employ to measure the effectiveness of your solutions.
Senior Seminar Project: Identifying the Challenge of FEMA
When an organization is under pressure to follow its mission and goals and fails to do so, can be detrimental for the leaders and employees. For one organization, there came a time whether their mission and goals were put to the test “to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.” (FEMA.gov, 2014). On August 29, Hurricane Katrina caused severe destruction along the Gulf coast from central Florida to Texas, much of it due to the storm surge. Most of the destruction took place in New Orleans Louisiana from the levee system that failed due to hurricane. According to a USATODAY.com – Exposed by Katrina, 2005 explained that the magnitude of devastation that took place, “Many failures of FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency — has been reported in recent days: People stranded for days on New Orleans’ rooftops without food or water, patients dying for lack of medical supplies. The agency couldn’t even get supplies to thousands marooned at the Morial Convention Center — though reporters and even singer Harry Connick Jr. managed to reach the scene.” The main problem was that Michael Brown, the Administrator of FEMA at the time of the disaster, no disaster experience to be qualified to be an emergency management expert. His experience “Before joining FEMA as its counsel in 2001, Brown, a friend of the FEMA director who hired him, worked for nine years as a commissioner at an Arabian horse association.” (USATODAY, 2005). How can administrator with no disaster experience be able to respond accordingly by knowing how to respond to a disaster based on previous experiences in dealing with disasters? Based on the history of FEMA administrators, majority of them have some form of emergency management and preparedness back ground until 2005, after Hurricane Katrina,:
“John Macy was named as FEMA’s first director in 1981. Macy emphasized the similarities between natural hazards preparedness and the civil defense activities. FEMA began development of an Integrated Emergency Management System with an all-hazards approach.
In 1993, President Clinton nominated James L. Witt as the new FEMA director, becoming the first agency director with experience as a state emergency manager. He initiated sweeping reforms that streamlined disaster relief and recovery operations, insisted on a new emphasis regarding preparedness and mitigation, and focused agency employees on customer service. In February 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Joe M. Allbaugh as the director of FEMA. He served until FEMA’s transfer into the newly created Department of Homeland Security, after which he resigned in March 2003. Michael Brown was appointed in January 2003 also by President George W. Bush and resigned soon after Hurricane Katrina, the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic tropical cyclone of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Robert David Paulison was appointed by President George W. Bush on September 12, 2005. At the 2009 National Hurricane Conference, he announced he would resign January 21, 2009. Craig Fugate was appointed as the FEMA Administrator in May 2009 by President Barack Obama and remains as the current Administrator (April, 2014). His nomination received bi-partisan support in congress.”(FEMA.gov, 2014)
After Hurricane Katrina, The U.S. Senate wanted to ensure that people within high rankings such as Administrators’ of organization need to far more experience than maintaining a horse association. Now Administrators’ must be appointed by the U.S. Senate and The President based on their qualifications and experiences to specific are within the organization.
This is important because with Michael Brown being the example of having no experience in leadership to guide in response and recovery from a disaster. The efforts of response and recovery came from misguided leadership with no experience. When leadership is misguided so are the managers, by providing miscommunication and misinformation, which has chaos all of over the place. Hiring practices within federal agencies have been under scrutiny lately due to senior leaderships hiring family and friends with little or no experience to handle jobs that requirement multitudes of experience and knowledge. The individuals who are impacted internally are the employees within the organization, if the employees see that leadership is flawed, no trust and motivation will allow the mission and goals to be effective for the organization. The individuals, who are affected externally, are the customers who the agency works with for resources, and also the survivors of the disasters will also lack trust in agency especially to provide proper safety and security.
The problem with FEMA especially during the reaction to Hurricane Katrina was that the former Administrator had no formal training or experience in emergency management. This was a ripple effect throughout the agency. Since, leadership had no previous experience and knowledge of how to handle a disaster the employees that were directed to take guidance from failed because the misguidance from leadership, in which turns into a bad reputation and bad morale for external and internal stakeholders.
From previous historical viewings of FEMA administrators qualifications never seemed to be an issue until the FEMA’s response orchestrated by the Michael Brown. All fingers were pointed negatively at FEMA as organization who lacked in its mission. From the Government Accountability Office (GAO) provided a report that FEMA current administrator had no experience in disasters. It was clear indication based off of Michael Brown’s resume that he was an avid supporter during the Bush campaign, in which the president elected for Michael Brown to be the FEMA administrator. The only type of related FEMA experience that Michael Brown “Before joining FEMA as its counsel in 2001, worked for nine years as a commissioner at an Arabian horse association.” (USATODAY, 2005).
Both internal and external stakeholders have influenced the unfair hiring practices for the FEMA Administrator during Hurricane Katrina. The external stake holder such as the President Bush, who appointed Michael Brown, played a negative influenced. While the former president appointed Mr. Brown, the former resident should have ensured that he was well qualified to do the job. During the former Administration of President there were a few negative things that was displayed on his behavior shown toward the Hurricane Katrina himself. While his own response, showed how he had neither experience nor guidance on emergency management efforts when dealing with disasters. When your leadership lacks experience show does the managers who are following. Michael Brown could only do what he knew which nothing was. The internal portion of FEMA such as the employees that operated to response based on the needs of Hurricane Katrina could only do as directed. Therefore, hence why the response was so slow and effortless because of the ripple effect of Michael Brown and President Bush attitude towards the disaster itself.
The stakeholders internal and external should know that a FEMA Administrators are required to have high qualifications and certifications in emergency management. As the leader of an organization, the appointed should have experience in community outreach related programs, helping communities mitigate ways to alleviate disaster related damage, and also being understanding the organization structure and it’s efforts in response and recovery. I find that after Hurricane Katrina, the next administrator had a lot of cleaning up to do for not only an organization but to the general public. Which will require, the president and future presidents to have a good understanding of an excellent emergency manager from a top down approach for both internal and external stakeholders.
In order to motivate individuals to buy in to fair hiring practices it would have to start from the Administrator and the Administrator will have to make sure that fair hiring practices are taking laces through the organization based the skillets and qualifications needed to do some of the jobs within FEMA. For example: The current Administrator Fugate has “served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). Fugate served as the Florida State Coordinating Officer for 11 Presidentially-declared disasters including the management of $4.5 billion in federal disaster assistance. In 2004, Fugate managed the largest federal disaster response in Florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state in quick succession; Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by major disasters when three more hurricanes made landfall in the state; Dennis, Katrina and Wilma. The impact from Hurricane Katrina was felt more strongly in the gulf coast states to the west but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC, Florida launched the largest mutual aid response in its history in support of those states.” (FEMA.gov, 2014).
Unfair practice is all of over the government but when it’s the head of its agency it can be detrimental for the external and internal stakeholders. However, necessary highly qualified individuals are more effective when proving leadership and motivation to work with/for the agency. Now that Fugate in charge of FEMA, FEMA has rebuild its own name of being a successful agency based on the leadership and guidance of Fugate per his credentials. While ensuring that the individual has the proper credentials and etc., is actually research and validated through opm.gov and their personnel system, which is how an agency determine if a person is truly qualified for the position. This requires investigation through the technologies that we as a society have available in this day in age.
The technologies and information that have been contributed to unfair hiring practices have played negative role. While during the Republican Administration, unfair hiring practices were very secret. In order to appoint someone in a high position with little or no experience to run an agency, was clearly overlooked in so many ways through all of the hiring department we have with OPM and etc. Technology in the perspective of not utilizing the necessary resources such as researching effectively to see if Brown was qualified in the first place, during the republican administration. The technologies that were contributed to the problem was the hiring system itself were none. The processing mechanism that was used was friend referral or if you worked on the president’s campaign you were deemed “experienced enough to be qualified to run an organizational structure such as FEMA. The friend referral didn’t work in the former president Bush favor, while he tried to hide away Michael Brown credentials as if he wouldn’t get caught. Hurricane Katrina shed light on lack of inexperience and other FEMA discrepancies within the agency as well.
I would like to mimic that current Administrators’ career pattern or experience on how we can cross check potential candidates’ to ensure fair and equal hiring processes. For Example Craig Fugate experience and career pattern would be a good cross check to evaluate potential candidates’, such as “W. Craig Fugate has “served as Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM). Fugate served as the Florida State Coordinating Officer for 11 Presidentially-declared disasters including the management of $4.5 billion in federal disaster assistance. In 2004, Fugate managed the largest federal disaster response in Florida history as four major hurricanes impacted the state in quick succession; Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. In 2005, Florida was again impacted by major disasters when three more hurricanes made landfall in the state; Dennis, Katrina and Wilma. The impact from Hurricane Katrina was felt more strongly in the gulf coast states to the west but under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC, Florida launched the largest mutual aid response in its history in support of those states.” (FEMA.gov, 2014)
Also, Fugate began his emergency management career as a volunteer firefighter, paramedic, and a Lieutenant with the Alachua County Fire Rescue. Eventually, he moved from exclusive fire rescue operations to serving as the Emergency Manager for Alachua County in Gainesville, Florida. He spent a decade in that role until May 1997 when he was appointed Bureau Chief for Preparedness and Response for FDEM. Within FDEM, Fugate’s role as Chief of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT) kept him busy in 1998, the SERT team was active for more than 200 days as a result of numerous floods, tornadoes, wildfires, and Hurricane Georges.” (FEMA.gov, 2014)
While now under the Democratic administration, fair hiring practices have been set in place to alleviate unfair hiring practices. I plan to propose that with the advancements of technology, a way to hire fairly and ensure that all FEMA Administrators are hired based on their qualifications would be to not have them appointed but the U.S. President but to be voted by the FEMA employees based on credentials and qualification within emergency management. This will require him/her to have an extensive knowledge and expert background in emergency management. This will require the potential candidates to be able to reach out to the FEMA community, by providing better ways and avenues of building a better legacy of FEMA and program’s with FEMA. This will include a more productive format for public messaging when alerts and disasters take place.
The data that has be collected to indicate there is a problem would be the GAO report of how the agency failed to operate effectively based on the leadership not having any experience within emergency management. Michael Brown failed personally and professionally when it came to time to respond to Hurricane Katrina. The reason why he responded so poorly is because he had no previous experience or knowledge of how to handle a disaster or re-build a community that has suffered from a catastrophic event such a three hurricane wrap into one massive Hurricane. The only relevant experience Michael Brown had was running an Arabian horse organization, which not even relevant to emergency management. It’s a clear indication that when leadership lacks in experience and knowledge to is the direction and guidance that follows from employees. An organization will definitely show its weak spots when leadership has no experience and it not focus towards the mission, goals and objective of the agency.
In the situation of Hurricane Katrina, Michael Brown decided to send Homeland Security rescues with only having two days of training, he also had ample time to develop a strategy of how the federal resources were going to be issued to the survivor victims. He also should have ensured that any resources that were given should have been appropriately taken care of. For example, the trailers having traces of Formaldehyde, Michael Brown should have been monitoring through the programs especially on the programs areas that have housing matters that is a necessary requirement to keep update with OSHA’s regulations. Another example was ensuring that the logistics efforts that took place had the proper transportation to drop resources such as water food, medical supplies and etc. to help those victims that were stranded. Overall Michael brown had the appropriate federal resources, and funding efforts to provide the necessary resources to the victims of Katrina. But due to his lack of knowledge and background in emergency management, he had no idea in order to make sure the resources and assistance was provided appropriately.
An effective and efficient solution would be to make sure leadership is not appointed by the president because he/she helped with a campaign. The president should be able to appoint a individual which has years of experience in building communities and reframing work environments to be more productive as an agency. This of course would be to have someone be on a panel review if the appointed individual is really qualified to be an administrator of an agency. First we would have to determine what is deemed qualified? Based of how many years of experience will the individual need? How many communities has the individual(s) assisted, rebuilt, helped with emergency management issues? How many degrees and education, or certification does the individual have in emergency management? What are the leadership skills, and qualifications? Also, what are the candidates’ qualifications on personnel and morale discrepancies? First the panel will mostly likely be an entity that will be non-bias in decision making against or for the president but will have a understanding knowledge in the emergency management field. The panel will first look at the candidates resume based on the following questions above and determine if the candidate will be an efficient and effective candidate for to run and agency that has compartmental disposition. Depending on the vote of the panel that will determine who is best fit the president appointees/candidates. The president will have to take head to review of the panel votes and make the best decision on who exactly is the best selection ( this is also similar to how people are selected for individual jobs within the government.)