States Praise DHS's New Management, Engagement

By Joseph Straw

In the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) post-Hurricane Katrina years under the Bush administration, state officials cited renewed engagement by their agency partners who worked with them directly at the regional level.

States remained less impressed, however, with their DHS partners in the nation’s capital, who they said still took a closed-door, dictatorial approach to issues like grant management, handing down strict guidelines from on high while ignoring or disregarding states’ needs and wants.

That has begun to change under the Obama administration, according to a report by Deb Weinstein, a student at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, assigned to the Medill News Service bureau in Washington, DC.

In the first half of a two-part series on the agency’s evolution, state officials praise the appointment of Janet Napolitano, a former governor, to head DHS, and that of Craig Fugate, a former state emergency management director, to head the beleaguered Federal Emergency Management Agency. The state executives say DHS has been proactive about engaging them.

Last year, while still head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, Fugate talked to Security Management about his own similar frustrations with DHS under the Bush administration, as well as the aggressive approach to emergency management that helped him land his current job.

Photo by Daquella manera/Flickr


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