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FEMA Funding Priorities Shift



April 10, 2008 By

Federal emergency management grants will require state and local agencies to spend more money on planning, and less on acquiring resources and attending exercises, said FEMA's preparedness coordinator for the Pacific Northwest.

The agency believes states and localities have reached a point of exercise overload, according to Patrick Massey, division director and federal preparedness coordinator for FEMA's Region 10, which covers Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Therefore, more emphasis will be placed on emergency response planning and citizen preparation when FEMA dishes out funds.

Massey spoke in April at the Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference 2008 in Tacoma, Wash. He briefly outlined some other philosophical shifts under way at FEMA:

  • A change in approach from "wait-and-see" to "deploy-and-hold."
  • An evolution from centralization to decentralization.
  • Shifting grant priorities from resources to intelligence.
  • Emphasis on homogeneity instead of heterogeneity.
  • Greater attention on strengthening citizen preparedness.

Massey also warned against focusing homeland security efforts only on external threats. Pointing to the fall of the Roman Empire, he said societies ignore internal risks at their own peril. Indeed, the message that homeland security encompasses internal threats too -- such as the national debt, the trade deficit, unfunded pensions and global warming -- was a popular one at the conference.

"Will we kill ourselves like Rome did?" Massey asked. "For great societies to prosper, they have to figure out both [how to deal with] internal and external threats."


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