FEMA and NJOEM
History of the Office of Emergency Management System (FEMA)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was called into action in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter in collaboration with state governors. The agency was formed following a series of unmanaged disasters between 1960 and 1970. As such, FEMA was formed to create collective management of disaster since the 1960s disasters were unmanaged due to lack of coordination and poor results between the many emergency agencies (Hogue & Bea, 2006). However, FEMA would soon be faced with challenges of duplicated duties, confusions, and unending political interest through appointments. In 1992, FEMA’s failures were finally tested during Hurricane Andrew. With the local emergency agencies being overwhelmed in South Florida and Miami, FEMA troops showed up after five days thereby confirming the institution’s unresponsiveness in disaster management.
In 1993, the Clinton administration came to the rescue of FEMA by appointing a non-political director. James Lee Witt became the agency’s professional director who had relevance experience in emergency management. The Witt led agency countered several changes including eliminating bureaucracy, employing professionally trained staff, and creating a disaster management committee. In 1996, President Clinton transformed FEMA to federal cabinet level and granted headship of 22 other federal emergency agencies under the Federal Response Plan (Hogue & Bea, 2006). However, the 2001 change of guard to Joe Allbaugh amidst the incoming Bush Administration changes the structure of FEMA. The new director streamed down the organization to focus on earthquakes, hurricane, and terrorism. President Bush further created the Department of Homeland Security on March 2003 following the 9/11 terror attack. The Homeland Security became the largest response organization thereby reducing FEMA to a minor department within the new Homeland Security.
Joe Allbaugh’s short reign was taken over by Michael Brown as the new director of Homeland Security and FEMA boss in 2003. The director used the intertwined position of FEMA to prepare effectively for Hurricane Katrina under the program Hurricane Pam. The unfruitful outcome of the hurricane disaster led to a reduction in the organization’s funding and structure (Haddow & Bullock, 2005). The year 2005 saw FEMA reduced further following devastating Hurricane Katrina on 29th August 2005. Therefore, on 18th October 2005, the president signed into law the Homeland Security bill that usurps emergency preparedness from FEMA.
History of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM)
The 1979 Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station case that marked the conceptualization of a unified federal emergency management agency reflected the same view on state governments. The 1980 changes in the Civil Defense Act allowed FEMA to collaborate with state governments and help them create local emergency management agencies. The amendments to the Act described the role of FEMA in coordinating and supporting state-based emergency agencies. In addition, the amendments necessitated the dual funding in which federal funds could be passed over to state agencies in the preparation and management of disasters (Fagan, Moore, & Warren, 2005). FEMA was also allowed to set up evacuation and civic education programs as a way of working within the states governments. Therefore, the federal emergency body, FEMA, acted on behalf of the national government to coordinate and collaborate with state and private organizations through policies and presidential executive orders in emergency management, which was a foundation for the formation of state emergency agencies like NJOEM.
The formation of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (NJOEM) came upon the reorganization of the duties of the Office of the Civilian Defense Director. On July 22, 1976, a reorganization plan transferred duties of the Civilian Defense Director office from the Department of Defense to the Law and Public Safety Department. In 1978, the Office of Civilian Defense Director was reallocated to the Division of State Police, which subsequently led to the formation of state emergency bodies in various states. Therefore, on 17th December 1980, New Jersey Governor, Brendan Byrne, gave an executive order that led to the formation of the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management.
The new state emergency body usurps the duties and powers formerly held by the Office of Civilian Defense Director (Fagan, Moore, & Warren, 2005). The NJ State police superintendent doubled as the director of the new NJOEM. The director ensured appointments and management of daily emergencies in the state. However, the governor retained the overall authority over the NJOEM. Thus, the body ensured control and coordination of emergencies and disaster management within the state.
The formation of the FEMA followed scattered emergency bodies that necessitated collaboration of the various emergency bodies in the creation of an effectively coordinated disaster management plan. The FEMA predecessor agencies date back to 17 century with upgrade duties till the formation of FEMA. The Disaster Relief Act of 1950 became the first casualty of the FEMA formation. The Act previous allowed the president to declare disasters and state of emergency in the occurrence of any. Instead of having a designated agency, the Act allows various states agencies to be called to action at the time of disaster and actions to be dissolved at the end of the emergency (Ward, Wamsley, Schroeder, & Robins, 2000). The Act acted alongside the Federal Civil Defense office of 1950, which acted to threats of nuclear and other related radioactive polarities. The agency created in the Act ensured minimum public damage and civil attack threat imposed by nuclear war. The emergency response units were the federal forces. In 1960, the two Acts were consolidated into the formation of the Office of Emergency Preparedness as the first institutionalized amendment of the disaster Acts. The creation of OEP followed series of calamities including Hurricanes Donna, Carla, and the Montana earthquake. To expand the duties and abilities of the OEP, the federal government rolled out the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 under the National Flood Insurance Program. The Acts led to divided attention that distracted response to emergencies. Therefore, in 1970, the government brought together over 100 Acts and federal agencies to form FEMA as a collective organization responsive for all emergencies and disaster management.
On the other hand, the NJOEM proceeded to the Office of the Civilian Defense Director as a state representative disaster management office. The Civil Defense Act of 1980 granted the deferral government authority to set up state emergency centers at various states and local governments. Under the FEMA umbrella, the federal Office of Civilian Defense created a similar office in New Jersey to assist in the management of disaster in the state (Fagan, Moore, & Warren, 2005). The office worked on consolidation and consultation with the federal authority under the federal Department of Defense. The Attorney General William Hyland’s order of 1978 allowed the establishment of the Office of the Civilian Defense Director under the New Jersey Department of State Police. The move was followed by Governor Brendan’s order to create the Office of the Emergency Management from its predecessor. Thus, the NJOEM was created in delocalization and transformation of the Office of the Civilian Defense Director under the New Jersey state government.
Scope and Role of Agencies
The FEMA’s scope of operations is currently limited to directives from the Homeland Security office. The organization’s emergency response is guided by the National Emergency Management under internal emergency or disaster. The charter extends and limits the operations of FEMA depending on the need and weight of the emergency at hand (Ward, Wamsley, Schroeder, & Robins, (2000). As a department under Homeland Security, FEMA operates within the schedules of planned and directed operations as outlined by the head department. However, on a geographical boundary, the organization reaches out to all states and private organizations in response to a disaster, planning, and educating the public. Thus, FEMA has a wider scope of operation than NJOEM.
FEMA is responsible for educating the national public about disaster management, preparedness, and response (Ward, Wamsley, Schroeder, & Robins, 2000). Through the Emergency Preparedness, the institution has been on the bridge of civic education and effective technology use as a control mechanism to emergencies. The institution also budgets for disaster management, sets up emergency notifications, registers aid for a natural disaster, and assists state agencies to combat their emergencies.
Unlike FEMA, NJOEM has a shorter geographical scope of operations. The agency is limited to New Jersey unless there are national or interstate disasters that require joint operations. The agency is also limited to state legislation, the Department of State Police’s directives, and the governors’ executive orders (Fagan, Moore, & Warren, 2005). On operations, NJOEM culminates all disaster and emergency issues within the state based on Safety Guide. However, NJOEM assumes similar state roles as FEMA. NJOEM is in charge of planning and coordination of emergency responses in New Jersey State and beyond its borders when called to action. The institution works in collaboration with other state agencies, FEMA, private sector, NGOs, and Homeland Security in combatting disasters. Therefore, the agency has similar functions as FEMA within its mandate.
Expansion Plan of the Agencies
The increasing cases of natural disaster have necessitated expansion measures by FEMA and NJOEM. Under Homeland Security, the latest Emergency Preparedness Plan adopted by the institution has put it on the forefront of creating a preventive disaster management plan as opposed to the previous response plan (Haddow & Bullock, 2005). The plan requires the agency to expand in terms of funding, equipment, and human resource to be effective in emergency response. The same applies to NJOEM that has drafted similar proposal including financial preparedness, setting up emergency notifications, creating special needs registry, and categorization of First Aid in natural disasters management. Therefore, the two agencies propose expanding their operations to respond effectively to disasters.
Ward, R., Wamsley, G., Schroeder, A., & Robins, D. B. (2000). Network organizational development in the public sector: A case study of the federal emergency management administration (FEMA). Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 51(11), 1018-1032.
Fagan, A. L., Moore, C. M., & Warren, H. L. (2005). Conceptual Model of Emergency Management in the 21st Century. Suffolk VA: Evidence Based Research Inc.
Haddow, G., & Bullock, J. (2005, June). The future of emergency management. In The Future of Emergency Management: Papers From the 2005 FEMA Emergency Management Higher Education Conference (pp. 11-20).
Hogue, H. B., & Bea, K. (2006). Federal Emergency Management and Homeland Security organization: Historical developments and legislative options. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service.
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