Terrorism and Emergency Management

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Homeland security must consist of an organized network of government agencies that are narrowly defined with specific emergency management responsibilities. For example, Mistakes were made when The Army Corp of Engineers partnered with the Orleans Levee District to construct a flood protection system in New Orleans. Martha Derthick (2007) explains the lack of accountability between the two agencies, “Flood protection was not their only function. If both organizations had been dedicated to that purpose alone cooperation would have come more easily…” (p. 40). Federal, state, and local governments share the weight of protecting citizens, therefore agencies that manage emergency preparedness and risk assessment should be specialized and focused. The purpose of combining emergency management with homeland security is to ensure that there is communication between federal, state, and local authorities. Defense methods should include a multifarious approach and prevent danger from all hazards by sharing funding and other resources in a timely manner.

FEMA’s function centers on training first responders and state and local officials on universal practices that can be utilized efficiently across state borders in times of national emergencies and disasters. For example, Ernest Abbot (2004) explains the nature of responding to a terrorist attack, “It is state, local, and public authority police that provide security for public buildings and much of the water, transportation, transit, and even power and some communications infrastructure” (p. 842). FEMA mediates between agencies within the DHS that assess terrorist threats through intelligence gathering, but lower levels of government are the first to respond. There would be a greater threat posed to national security if there was full disclosure about techniques used to prevent terrorism to all branches of the system of emergency management. FEMA should continue to operate under the Department of Homeland Security to keep highly sensitive information confidential.

America is safer since the terrorist attacks on 9/11 because of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. The DHS initiates several policies that expand the federal government’s ability to combat terrorism through heightened surveillance and securing national borders. These policies are outlined in the USA Patriot Act of 2001 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, but the policy that strengthens FEMA’s capacity to address a wide range of risks was fortified in the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5. This directive initiated the development of the National Response Plan which is now known as the National Response Framework. Caruson and MacManus (2006) emphasize the importance of standardizing the process by which the federal government allocates funds for emergency management. State and local governments are encouraged to be more prepared because they are required by law to focus on preventive measures before they are allowed to receive grants (p. 524). The DHS integrates emergency management into an organized framework of consolidated practices regulated by mandates providing an advanced structure to approaching all hazards in the wake of 9/11.

The 9/11 attacks prompted the federal government to place FEMA under the control of the DHS. FEMA’s function is to oversee that state and local governments comply with national regulations in accordance with the Stafford Act which has been amended to better assist the management of natural disasters and emergencies. The Stafford Act addresses all hazards highlighting the importance of assessing various risks that could potentially cause danger while also implementing strategies to prevent those risks Abbot (2005) points out obstacles in FEMA’s duty, “Laws and rules prohibit the agency from providing assistance where some physical or financial mitigation have rules have been violated” (p. 469). This system can improve through more education and direct communication for city officials on rules and regulations required to receive federal funds for their various projects.


Abbot, E. (2004). Recent developments in homeland security and emergency management: homeland security in the 21st century: new inroads on the state police power. The Urban Lawyer, 36(4), 837-848. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27895516

Abbot, E. (2005). Representing local governments in catastrophic events. The Urban Lawyer, 37(4), 467-488. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/27895551

Caruson, K., & MacManus, S. A. (2006). Mandates and management challenges in the trenches: an intergovernmental perspective on homeland security. Public Administration Review, 6(4),522-536. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2006.00613.x

Derthick, M. (2007). Where federalism didn’t fail. Public Administration Review, 67, 36-47. Retrieved from arch http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2007.00811.x