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The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.
By Shardai Collins
May 31, 2016
There are agencies within the federal government that exist to assist American citizens. For example, the Social Security Administration was created so Americans would have a safety net for retirement. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was created as the nation’s criminal investigation agency, tasked with keeping Americans safe from domestic terrorism.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created to provide relief to disaster victims and has helped Americans recover from natural disasters such as Hurricanes Sandy and Joaquin. While it might take a smaller agency a few weeks to clear away debris, FEMA has the resources to do it much more efficiently. FEMA operates within the complex world of emergency management to diminish, plan for, respond to and recover from catastrophic events. Its responsibility is to make sure the negative effects of emergency situations have a minimal negative impact upon the inhabitants of an affected area. Emergency management handles an array of variables but public managers must understand these variables to perform effectively for the public.
What defines a disaster?
We know disasters happen to communities destroyed by major storms or catastrophes. Henstra defines a disaster as widespread social or economic impact that creates vulnerable conditions that are hazardous for a community. Hazards are categorized as floods, train derailments or industrial accidents. States are responsible to provide guidelines for emergency programs through preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery concepts. Their policies undergo an evaluation process using performance measures that determine the strength of effectiveness and have an obligation to demonstrate that funds allocated were used effectively and resourcefully.
What is the practice of mitigation?
The practice of mitigation requires basic integration of emergency management systems. Strong mitigation aids public managers in coordinating strategies in hazard management. Godschalk and Brower found that strong programs need three goals to have effective strategies:
These goals guide administrators to tailor their mitigation strategies and tools for area plans, zoning ordinances, risk mapping, building codes, land acquisition, use of public facilities and taxation. Future legislation can then fund programs aimed at mitigating hazards as preventive measures for floods and earthquakes.
Mitigation can be broken down into the following phases: preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
What about policy formation?
Policy formulation tends to be a complex challenge for emergency management. The process of gathering information to gain endorsement for policies under consideration goes through in-depth scrutiny. The book, Managing Human Behavior in Public and Nonprofit Organizations, explains that organizations can look to organization change as a technical and emotional tool in public management. Managers are agents of change who have the responsibility of communicating current problems related to the situation at hand and must first open their constituents’ eyes to the possibility of change. Organizations can use feedback to incorporate new inputs, more or less, into services or regulations. Feedback becomes valuable to any organization. The new inputs from feedback can also convert into products and services.
Managers in organizations should learn as much as possible about the context in which their roles will take place because it can become a mechanism for driving change and control.
Author: Shardai Collins is a graduate student at California State University, Dominguez Hills. Email:[email protected]