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Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

NIMS Accountability

Which government agency should be held accountable for the proper implementation of the NIMS guidelines? Critically analyze why this agency should be held accountable.

DHS should be held accountable for implementation of NIMS guidelines; while FEMA is the agancy tasked by and subordinate to DHS, it is DHS that is legally accountable “To enhance the ability of the United States to manage domestic incidents by establishing a single, comprehensive national incident management system” (Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, 2003, p.1). Specifically, “The Secretary of Homeland Security is the principal Federal official for domestic incident management” (Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, 2003, p.1); “The Secretary shall develop, submit for review to the Homeland Security Council, and administer a National Incident Management System (NIMS)” (Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5, 2003, p.3). FEMA is the agency that the Secretary has delegated the work of implementation, yet the Secretary is the accountable agency. The Stafford Act created FEMA with the purpose of coordinating Federal resources; “federal resources may be provided under the control and coordination of FEMA” (Osborne, 2006, p.11)

What challenges can this agency possibly face in implementing the NIMS guidelines? Suggest three strategies to overcome these challenges.

The primary challenge that FEMA (acting in the name of the Secretary) faces is a lack of legal authority to enforce implementation processes. “The department, in fact, was given little new legal authority to undertake its coordinating role” (Wise, 2006, p. 306). The major strategy to counter this issue would be to write a law granting such authority over Federal agencies.
A lack of authority over non-Federal agencies highlights a second issue. “There is a difference of opinion on whether the federal government had the means to supersede state authority”, Wise states, referencing Katrina as an example(2006, p. 305). The Federal government can not force local agencies to comply with NIMS guidelines. The only strategy to counter this issue without creating a Constitutional problem would be to improve coordination with local authorities.
The strategy of improved coordination also mitigates confusion of responsibility, a third issue confronting NIMS implementation; “in order for response to be effective, planning and groundwork must be done to set an agreed-upon framework that will be employed in actual response efforts” (Wise, 2006, p. 312)

Homeland Security Presidential Directive-5. (2003). Retrieved February 5, 2015 from http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/Homeland%20Security%20Presidential%20Directive%205.pdf
Osborne, W. A. (2006). The history of military assistance for domestic natural disasters: The return to a primary role for the Department of Defense in the twenty-first century? The Army Lawyer, , 1-18. Retrieved February 5, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com/docview/227918490?accountid=87314

Wise, C. R. (2006). Organizing for Homeland Security after Katrina: Is Adaptive Management What’s Missing? Public Administration Review, 66(3), 302. Retrieved February 5, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/197175662?pq-origsite=summon

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