Saturday, September 17, 2005
Federal Emergency Management Agency leaders ordered officials in the agency's Preparedness Division to stop all Katrina relief efforts and begin a long-planned move from agency headquarters to new offices in Virginia by Monday. "They're no longer focused on the gigantic Katrina job and are putting their files into boxes instead," said one outraged FEMA insider. "This is simply incredible considering that the entire staff has been an integral part of the response effort." ... FEMA spokeswoman Nicol Andrews confirmed that workers from the agency's radiological emergency preparedness and chemical stockpile emergency preparedness programs were moving to Arlington, Va., in a reorganization, where they will be absorbed by a new division within the Homeland Security Department.This New York Daily News story reminded me of Parkinson's Law, which I read years and years ago. One of the things Parkinson illustrated in the book is how people who are in over their heads will spend obsessive amounts of time on the trivial, because it's what they can comprehend. I think the political hacks at FEMA are like that: they can't cope with making rapid decisions, but they know The Rules. So instead of assessing the situation and making appropriate decisions, they're enforcing The Rules, no matter that the rules are impeding the ostensible purpose of the agency. Bush's FEMA is like a streetcar in a demolition derby; it keeps getting smashed by reality because it can't leave the rails it runs on.
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