WASHINGTON – The White House will make 125 recommendations for how the government could have reacted better to Hurricane Katrina in a report to be released Thursday on the catastrophe and the Bush administration's response to it.
The findings are expected to be critical of the government's response, but not as harsh as a separate House report issued last week, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. The House study faulted the White House for not getting involved earlier in the planning for and aftermath of the Aug. 29 storm.
President Bush will host a Cabinet meeting Thursday morning to assess the report. The review was led by White House homeland security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend.
Days after Katrina struck, Bush said he accepted responsibility for the government's widely criticized response to the storm, which killed more than 1,300 people and forced hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents to abandon their damaged or destroyed homes.
"It is a very comprehensive review -- every Cabinet department and agency was involved in this review," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Wednesday.
"What we want to do is take a close look at what worked and what didn't work and apply those lessons to the future," he said.
In all, the 125 recommendations will focus on improving the government's ability to respond to catastrophic natural disasters or terrorist attacks, McClellan said.
He said great work was done in the aftermath of the hurricane, including Coast Guard rescue efforts that saved an estimated 33,000 people.
"But there are other areas where all levels of government fell short -- the federal, the state and the local," McClellan said.
Last week, the House issued 90 of its own findings about failures at all levels of government responding to Katrina. The Republican-led House report also found that earlier involvement by President Bush could have spurred a faster response.
The Senate is finishing its own investigation of the failed response, due next month.
"We'll take a look at the Congress' review as well, and their recommendations," McClellan said. "But it's important that we move forward and apply these lessons learned."