Discussion: emergency management agencies and homeland security

Should the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) exist as an independent agency or should it be included in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)? This question has long been debated and a definitive answer will likely remain elusive. Initially, FEMA was an independent agency, but it was later merged into the DHS. In both organizational scenarios, FEMA endured intense scrutiny and criticism about its performance in disaster response and recovery operations. The scrutiny and criticism, in turn, generated debate about the optimal organizational structure for FEMA and its leadership. The ongoing public debate about the inclusion of FEMA within the DHS is a healthy and necessary process, and in this week’s learning resources you explore both sides of the debate. Familiarity with the various perspectives and arguments about FEMA’s proper place and role in the national homeland security system will help you formulate your own judgment about this critical issue.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the assigned pages in Chapter 4 of your course text, Introduction to Homeland Security: Principles of All-Hazards Risk Management. Reflect on how the DHS initially was organized and consider how it currently is organized. Also, think about the inclusion and role of FEMA within the DHS.
  • Review the course media, “Government Agencies and Officials” with Dr. Phillip Schertzing. Focus on the ongoing debate about including FEMA within the DHS or restoring it to an independent, cabinet-level agency.
  • Think about the advantages and disadvantages of including FEMA within the DHS and of restoring it to an independent, cabinet-level agency.
  • With the advantages and disadvantages in mind, take a position for or against the inclusion of all-hazards federal emergency management agencies within the DHS.

By Day 4

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 4 an argument for or against the inclusion of all-hazards federal emergency management agencies within the DHS. Support your argument with academic references.

Note: Include whether you are arguing for or against the inclusion in the first line of your post. You will be asked to respond to a colleague who argued the opposite position.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.


Required Readings

Bullock, J. A. , Haddow, G. D.  & Coppola, D. P. (2013). Introduction to homeland security (5th ed.). Waltham, MA: Elsevier Inc.  
Chapter 2, “Historic Overview of the Terrorist Threat”

NGA Center for Best Practices. (2007). A governor’s guide to homeland security. Retrieved from http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/0703GOVGUIDEHS.PDFChapter 1, “Governors’ Powers, Roles, and Responsibilities”
Chapter 4, “Mutual Aid”
Chapter 5, “National Guard and Military Assistance”
Chapter 6, “Major Disasters and Emergency Declarations”

Homeland Security. (2008). National incident management system. Retrieved from http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nims/NIMS_core.pdf
Note: You are only required to read pages 45–69 of this article.

Required Media

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2009). Current issues in homeland security: Government officials and agencies. Baltimore: Author.
Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 13 minutes.

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