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Residential Building Fires (2010–2012)

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Residential Building Fires (2010–2012) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Residential fires are of great national importance, as they account for the vast majority of civilian casualties. National estimates for 2010-2012 show that 82 percent of all fire deaths and 78 percent of all fire injuries occurred in residential buildings. In addition, residential building fires accounted for over half (57 percent) of the total dollar loss from all fires.

Report findings:

  • An estimated 366,900 residential building fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year and caused an estimated 2,465 deaths, 13,400 injuries and $7 billion in property loss.
  • Cooking, at 47 percent, was the leading reported cause of residential building fires.
  • Residential building fire incidence was higher in the cooler months, peaking in January at 11 percent.
  • Residential building fires occurred most frequently in the early evening hours, peaking during the dinner hours from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • The leading reported factor contributing to ignition category was misuse of material or product (38 percent).
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DHS OIG — DHS Open Unresolved Recommendations Over Six Months Old, as of September 30, 2014

December 10, 2014 Comments off

DHS Open Unresolved Recommendations Over Six Months Old, as of September 30, 2014
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

The list includes all the unresolved issues raised by OIG audits and inspections reports, some dating back over six years.

The list includes the report number, title, recommendation, date issued, DHS agency, and number of days the recommendation has remained unresolved.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency: Floods, Failures, and Federalism

December 8, 2014 Comments off

The Federal Emergency Management Agency: Floods, Failures, and Federalism
Source: Cato Institute

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead federal agency for disaster preparedness, response, and relief. FEMA’s budget fluctuates from year to year, but spending has trended sharply upwards in recent decades. The agency spent $22 billion in fiscal 2013 and $10 billion in fiscal 2014. The main activity of FEMA is distributing aid to individuals and state and local governments after natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes. In addition, the agency provides ongoing grants to the states for disaster preparedness, and it operates the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

FEMA’s response to some major disasters has been slow, disorganized, and profligate. The agency’s actions have sometimes been harmful, such as when it has blocked the relief efforts of other organizations. FEMA’s dismal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 dramatized the agency’s bureaucratic dysfunction. FEMA’s grants for disaster preparedness are known for wastefulness. As for the NFIP, its insurance subsidies are spurring development in flood-prone areas, which in turn is increasing the damage caused by floods. The NFIP also encourages an expansion of federal regulatory control over local land-use planning.

Federalism is supposed to undergird America’s system of handling disasters, particularly natural disasters. State, local, and private organizations should play the dominant role. Looking at American history, many disasters have generated large outpourings of aid by individuals, businesses, and charitable groups.

Today, however, growing federal intervention is undermining the role of private institutions and the states in handling disasters. Policymakers should reverse course and begin cutting FEMA. Ultimately, the agency should be closed down by ending aid programs for disaster preparedness and relief and privatizing flood insurance.

DHS OIG — Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security

November 22, 2014 Comments off

Major Management and Performance Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

We have identified major challenges that affect both the Department as a whole, as well as individual components. DHS must continually seek to integrate management operations under an authoritative governing structure capable of effectively overseeing and managing programs that cross component lines.

DHS’ mission to protect the Nation from domestic and international threats and respond to natural and manmade disasters is further challenged by the unpredictable nature of these hazards. DHS must overcome the challenges inherent with uniting the Department under the Secretary’s Unity of Effort Initiative, as well as those over which it has little control.

This year, we are reporting the Department’s major challenges in the following areas:
• DHS Operations Integration
• Acquisition Management
• Financial Management
• IT Management and Privacy Issues
• Transportation Security
• Border Security and Immigration Enforcement
• Grants Management
• Employee Accountability and Integrity
• Infrastructure Protection, Cybersecurity, and Insider Threat

CRS — Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress (September 16, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes. The 113th Congress extended this authority through October 4, 2014. Congressional policy makers have debated the scope and details of reauthorization and continue to consider establishing an authority with longer duration. Some Members of Congress support an extension, either short- or long-term, of the existing authority. Other Members call for revision and more extensive codification of chemical facility security regulatory provisions. Questions regarding the current law’s effectiveness in reducing chemical facility risk and the sufficiency of federal chemical facility security efforts exacerbate the tension between continuing current policies and changing the statutory authority.

See also: Implementation of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS): Issues for Congress (September 15, 2014) (PDF)

DHS OIG — FEMA’s Logistics Supply Chain Management System May Not Be Effective During a Catastrophic Disaster

October 27, 2014 Comments off

FEMA’s Logistics Supply Chain Management System May Not Be Effective During a Catastrophic Disaster (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

We audited the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Logistics Supply Chain Management System program. According to FEMA, the Logistics Supply Chain Management System replaced its earlier logistics operations systems to automate and track distribution better and deliver emergency supplies more dependably. FEMA also intended for the system to help track supplies provided by partners in other Federal agencies; nongovernmental organizations; state, local, and tribal governments; and the private sector. Our audit objective was to determine whether FEMA’s Logistics Supply Chain Management System is able to support Federal logistics operations effectively in the event of a catastrophic disaster.

After spending about $247 million over 9 years, FEMA cannot be certain that its supply chain management system will be effective during a catastrophic disaster. FEMA estimated that the life cycle cost of the system would be about $556 million—$231 million more than the original life cycle cost estimate. According to FEMA, the Logistics Supply Chain Management System became fully operational in January 2013, which was about 19 months behind schedule. However, the system could not perform as originally planned. Specifically, it cannot interface with the logistics management systems of FEMA’s partners, nor does FEMA have realͲtime visibility over all supplies shipped by its partners. As of March 2014, the Logistics Supply Chain Management System still had not achieved full operational capability. We attribute these deficiencies to inadequate program management and oversight by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA. As a result, FEMA may not be able to efficiently and effectively aid survivors of catastrophic disaster.

DHS — Refugees and Asylees 2013

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Refugees and Asylees 2013
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The United States provides refuge to persons who have been persecuted or have well-founded fear of persecution through two programs: one for refugees (persons outside the U.S. and their immediate relatives) and one for asylees (persons in the U.S. and their immediate relatives).

This Office of Immigration Statistics Annual Flow Report provides information on the number of persons admitted to the United States as refugees or granted asylum in the United States in 2013.

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