Why are people surprised at the inefficiencies of FEMA?

Watching the news, I guess I just don’t understand why people are surprised with government inefficiency. Strangely enough, I always found that it’s like an inverse relationship between the governmental agency and the amount of media attention. The more the media focuses on the public announcements you make, the worse the efficiency of at getting things done.


Take the Department of Homeland Security. TSA itself has some of the highest paid officials along with a budget that could arm a small country for the next decade. Yet, every private sector security expert can see major flaws in their planning and management. Bruce Schneier has dubbed it the movie security effect.
Now take the little announced, NSA. You rarely hear about anything coming from the depths of those walls, nor do they try to draw attention to themselves. I would imagine from the details of certain recruitment procedures that they just doesn’t screw around when it comes to their work in communication infiltration.
GAO is another agency that while small, takes their work very seriously. Not much mainstream press coverage even though a lot of their reports are shared among the blogosphere on the accountability of other governmental agencies.
Then comes the natural disaster Katrina and everyone has their eyes on DHS and FEMA. Obviously with the FOIA that Eric Muller requested from DHS on Purple Crescent II will probably end up nowhere, although I would love to know what they spent that money on. Chertoff doesn’t know what he was talking about and FEMA’s current director had issues with his last position.
But here’s the key point. You think that this is something that JUST happened? Not in the slightest. Truthfully, it’s much like a bloated corporation with too many positions in management and not enough people working to make their jobs more efficient and better quality work. Believe me, there have been many friendly chit-chats with colleagues about how to improve simple little things that most middle management won’t even listen to because they really don’t understand the problems themselves.
Personally, if I could withhold my part of the taxes that pays for any high official’s salary and all the other underlings that are working piss-poor quality, I would. Unfortunately, a friend and mentor of mine told me a while back, “It isn’t illegal to have bad management.” Too bad. Money seems to speak pretty well usually.
But really folks… it’s nothing new and if it takes a natural disaster to make you realize this, then you really need to open your eyes a bit wider next time.