The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is directed by William Craig Fugate and has been in this position since May of 2009. He has taken the approach of utilizing the whole community when it comes to preparing for emergencies. This approach requires an active collaboration between all levels of government. This includes “…voluntary agencies, faith based organizations, the private sector and citizens” (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2015). Fugate brings this skill set from his original position as Director of Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) where he sat through eleven disasters, which were declared by the President of the United States. During his tenure as Director of FDEM, he helped Florida overcome four of its major hurricanes: Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. As a past volunteer firefighter, in addition to a paramedic and lieutenant of a fire rescue, Fugate was well prepared to serve in both of his Director positions.
FEMA’s assistant directors operate under the capacity of Chief of Staff, Deputy Administrator of Protection and National Preparedness, Assistant Administrator for Grant Programs, Assistant Administrator for National Preparedness, Assistant Administrator for National Continuity Programs, and the Director of the Office of National Capital Region Coordination.
The FEMA Chief of Staff, Michael Coen, Jr., has held said position since 2009. He played a pivotal role in the two hurricanes that hit the state of Louisiana, Katrina and Rite, by providing technical support to those communities that were affected by the hurricanes. Prior to his appointment as Chief of Staff, he served as the Assistant to the FEMA director under the Presidency of Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001. There are several Deputy Administrators and Assistant Administrators that also operate in the capacity of an assistant director. Each Director and Assistant Administrator act on behalf of the department that they are in charge of, such as National Continuity Programs and National Preparedness.
According to FEMA’s website, the official mission is “…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” (Mission, 2015). The priorities of FEMA’s mission focuses primarily on readying communities across the United States for disasters that occur, whether it is large or small. FEMA readily applies its resources to developing effective emergency management. Furthermore, FEMA brings the blunt reality of mass disasters that could occur to alleviate ignorance towards what could happen and what has happened in the past.
In September of 2011, FEMA released its goal to cover five specific areas – Recovery, Mitigation, Protection, Prevention and Response. The National Preparedness Goal has been officially stated as “A secure and resilient nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk” (FEMA.gov). Some of the risks included range from natural hazards, such as hurricanes, and manmade attacks, such as cyber-attacks. Then, in order to reach the goals, FEMA has implemented a planning stage, public information and warning stage and the coordination of how the disaster will be averted or handled.
Within the FEMA Strategic Plan there are 5 priorities. Within in each priority, there are primary objectives listed. The first of the 5 priorities is to have FEMA be focused on those people who survived a disaster and the actual delivery of the emergency management programs. Under this priority, the objectives are to make a user-friendly disaster services plan, to provide support to local leaders and increase awareness about disasters by improving modes of communication.
The second priority is for FEMA to become an organization that is placed in all communities throughout the United States. The objectives for this priority revolve around making sure that FEMA’s operations operate in conjunction with the needs of the community they are servicing, to ensure the readiness and effectiveness of FEMA’s operations and to ensure that the services within a community are fully optimized.
The third priority is make sure that FEMA’s structure is capable of handling catastrophic disasters. The objectives include to strengthen the weak points within the organization, divide the resources to ensure effective usage and be the leader in emergency management services.
The fourth priority is to reduce the disaster risk not only in specific communities that are known to be effected, but communities that are less likely to be effected. The objectives for this priority will include provide resources to assist in effective risk management critical thinking, ensure that all government is working together to create an effective emergency management system and make sure that the National Flood Insurance Program is accessible in terms of effectiveness and affordability.
The fifth priority looks at strengthen the actual foundation of FEMA. The objectives to continue building a stronger FEMA is strengthen the workers within the organization, make informed decisions based off past data and create an efficient process that allows quick responses.
FEMA acts as the catch all for all natural, and manmade, disasters within the United States. The importance of this government organization to run efficiently is of extreme importance. From the top of the administrative chain, down to FEMA’s strategy plan, each component is vital to the organizations overall effectiveness. For FEMA it is not about the breadth of the organization, but the depth of its actions and how those actions help the people of the United States.