Tuesday, April 17, 2012

DHS dwindles

The Department of Homeland Security is reported to have a suspicion of people who take matters into their own hands and take their own extensive precautionary measures.  One suspects that in their mind their is a linkage, via the militia movement, to the mindset that led to the Oklahoma City bombing.

O.K. fair enough.

But if they are suspicious of the bootstrapping do it yourselfer, what exactly is it that they are going to do themselves?

By their own admission:  less.

DHS Budget Trends Jeopardize Partnerships and Collaboration

BY: , Emergency Management, 21 March 2012

Many say that the budget cuts of recent years already have forced emergency managers to pare back to where it hurts. Loathe to sacrifice operational readiness, they say the next to go will be the cross-jurisdiction training and cooperation that they have spent the past decade building up.

“One would hope that when faced with these constraints, the communities would pull together to fill each others’ gaps. What we are seeing is the opposite,” said Jack Herrmann, senior adviser and chief of public health preparedness programs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

“We are all doing less with less, so when any one sector sees the cut, it really means they may not have the bodies to send to coalition meetings,” he said. “They may not have the bodies to participate in collaborative planning. They may not have the technology to maintain or sustain that collaborative communication.”...
[M]oney may be wasted ... if the gains that have been made are squandered through neglect. All the new equipment, new infrastructure, new cooperative ties: It takes money not just to build these, but also to sustain them.

“All the money you invested in them in the first place is going to be lost, the capability is going to be lost,” Filler said. “Is the world going to stop turning if these programs go away? No. But will there be less of an ability to deal with forest fires, hurricanes, tornadoes? Yes. It’s not that the country won’t be able to respond, but we won’t be able to respond as effectively.”

The problem is compounded by the fact that many states have dramatically reduced their own emergency management spending in recent years, as the federal government has shown itself willing to shoulder the burden. Basic political truth: Once funding is taken away from a program and spent elsewhere, it becomes extremely difficult to reclaim.


I don't want to go into whether the programs are worthwhile.  I don't know enough of the details to say which one are or are not.  But Federalizing a lot of the local responsibilities allowed the country as a whole to pay for its security through the borrowing/money printing that occurs at the Federal expenditure level.  The States cannot do this.  They can borrow money, but they cannot print money by lending money to themselves.  So in the end their books have to balance.

Now you know DHS has got to be godsend of to Federal level meddling.  It brings the Federal government into all sorts local manipulations.  But even for all that attractiveness, they cannot afford to maintain the programs.  If the Federal Government cannot pay for them, it is certain that the States can't either.

So much like our roads, bridges, airports, etc.  it is easier to build up the infrastructure than it is to maintain it.  Maintenance is particularly tough when it involves so many impermanent soft costs like training and personnel, rather than items that will stick around for a little while on their own: like bridges.

3 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

When you say "It is easier to build up the infrastructure than it is to maintain it" you get to the heart of the matter.

When the agency or government is not after the infrastructure for it's own sake but to build new for power than the maintenance suffers. HS, etc is a power grab I hope it dwindles quickly.

Lisa said...

What I find interesting is that they said "They are all doing less with less." Shouldnt that be they are atleast trying to do more with less? In my work situation our workload has atleast doubled and we have barely heard an "atta boy" much less a raise, a bonus or a turkey at Thanksgiving. The feeling is is that if you dont like it, too bad. Theres 50 others that would take your job in a minute. Its very disheartening to go from a family-like-look -forward-to-going-to-work atmosphere to an stress induced robotic zombie feel. The "best" technology is ruining the staff that has to deal with it.

russell1200 said...

PP: HS is very much a power grab. I couldn't agree more.

L: From what I see, agency often like to at least threaten to cut the most painful, needed programs first. That's why schools, on any cut, will lay of classroom folks (teacher and assistants) rather then admin. I have had a number of posts in the past about technology being a two-edged sword. So I could not agree with you more on that.