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Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema)

Essay by   •  May 13, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,007 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,152 Views

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made moderate progress in being better prepared for a catastrophe than it was in 2005. The agency has been working to improve its ability to respond to local disasters. With moderate progress in overall planning, coordination and support, and interoperable communication, the agency is making headway in key areas involving municipalities. However, resistance and acceptance of the progress is still apparent. The Katrina catastrophe identified fundamental flaws in the mission assignment process, particularly between FEMA and the Department of Defense.

The situation was a major roadblock to a quick and effective response to the catastrophe. Obstacles like staffing shortages, inadequate funding, a lack of coordination, incomplete strategic plans, a lack of accountability and resistance to change from both internal and external stakeholders continue to be problems. The weakest area concerned mission assignments--the system for issuing and coordinating task orders among federal agencies. The agency is utilizing more pre-disaster contracts and attempting to better evaluate contracts after they are awarded, and the agency has already developed a plan to ease the transition into the next presidential administration. Some of the harshest criticisms came from Senators of the State of Louisiana still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, and Senators of the state of Missouri, who relayed several bureaucratic troubles (Rony, 2008).

This writer agrees that criticism was warranted in response to the handling of Katrina. However, change has occurred and should be recognized. Resistance from others stem from many factors, in this case this writer believes answers to specific questions are being addressed: What to change? What to change to? How to make the change happen? In order for the change process to work what are necessary are cooperation, collaboration, and co-ownership. The writer as the change agent must understand and acknowledge that the layers of resistance must be encountered, and what appropriate steps and tools to use in terms of communicating the issue. Accomplishment of the task would include a situational assessment, description of "current realities," and identification of the core problem or conflict and the assumptions that might sustain it.

A remedy for success needs to utilize continued verbalization of the vision/solution and a description of the strategy to attain the desired goal. Paramount also is avoidance of undesirable side effects, a prescription to problem, decision-making, and solution development and development of detailed plans and tactics that will clarify what needs to happen. We must synchronize our efforts of the agency in the implementation of the strategy. Planning, team building, and leadership are essential in task execution. The layers of resistance that are present in the agency and hinder gaining full cooperation are

1) Lack of agreement on the problem

2) Lack of agreement on a possible direction for a solution

3) Lack of agreement that the solution will truly address the problem

4) Concern that the solution will lead to new undesirable side effects ("Yes, but...")

5) Lack of a clear path around obstacles blocking the solution

It is this writer's belief that separation from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and

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