When I was growing up FFF stood for Freeport-Fast-Freight which was a transport company in my home town. In this instance it has to do with remarks that Craig Fugate shared at the final day of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) Conference which ended today, October 9, 2012.
I took notes while Craig was speaking. Since I can't type as fast as he talks I'm hoping I got what he said summarized appropriately. Since Craig checks out Emergency Management Magazine's website every day he can perhaps edit anything I did not phrase appropriately in the comments.
Craig Fugate's Remarks:
There are things we need to be honest about.
His job is to tell people:
- It is always about the money
- Lots of conflicting priorities on how funding will be spent
- Our performance in the next disaster is what counts. The past is not that relevant
- The performance of the team is what counts. You cannot separate the performance of individual elements and organizations.
- Failures by one organization [level of government] are shared by all
- Do we add value?
- Emergency Management is a relatively new discipline
- What if there is no emergency management [what would be different]?
What happens if there is no presidential declaration?
What if Congress abolished FEMA? Would you be relevant in your state? We need to communicate our relevance every day.
Budget cuts and defending them. Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) funding has gone up significantly in the last few years while there were double digit cuts in other grants, but not EMPG. We must demonstrated a shared responsibility. Investment provides a better capability for the nation. One way is to list the number of states accredited, or teams that were built, and our efforts in mitigation.
Sequestration: It is all in the hands of the elected leaders.
FEMA is going to get smaller and change how we do business. We must focus on outcomes and not do everything that we have been doing. We cannot separate ourselves from one another.
When they talk about FEMA they are talking about all of us [all of government].
Our successes are shared and our failures are shared.
He has come to realize that states represent FEMA and visa versa
On the other hand, FEMA is trying to speed things up and make things faster. A big goal is the need to become more consistent. Speed up the decision process. Need to simplify the process as a way to speed it up. They have been overturning their processes/approvals. We need to get to the right answer the first time. The right answer might be saying “no,” and saying no is not easy.
There is little “ground truth” in Washington, D.C. He would like to get senior people out to events. We are de-obligating funding and this is because we are not properly documenting the awards. The Stafford Act and CFR are open to interpretation. The flexibility that is there is not always used.
When you look at declarations and work that was done by earlier cadre you can’t find the people who wrote the (Project Worksheet) PW in the first place.
IG is looking for fraud, waste and abuse. Should we just submit the PW and submit it to the IG before any work begins?
It is always about the money. Do it quickly, but not in haste, right decision the first time, the right decision is maybe “no.” Get the right people there to make the decision and make the right one first
Another issue that has come up. What do we do about Individual Assistance (IA) declarations when the request is denied? FEMA’s prior decision was we can’t do anything. The language in the Homeland Security Act doesn’t prohibit FEMA from acting. Why can’t we respond without a DRS? The average payout is under $5K. The number of destroyed and uninsured homes is what gets you the IA declaration. Deaths could contribute. Is $5K really going to address their issue. We are not making them whole now. Maximum individual grant is $37K and 10% or less get that amount.
SBA helps businesses. Grants don’t fix homes, SBA can. HUD dollars is what is needed. Farm services, VA, Freddie and Fannie participation.
What if we took our volunteer liaisons and recovery center and take the funding out of their salary and operational expenses at FEMA.
Remember it is always about the money!