Hurricane Katrina's latest fatality should be FEMA, the nation's disaster response agency, a Senate inquiry concluded in calling for a government overhaul to avoid future failures like those the devastating storm exposed.
Eighty-six recommendations by the bipartisan panel indicate the United States is still woefully unprepared for a storm of Katrina's scope with the start of the hurricane season little more than a month away.
Though the proposed changes do not place blame on any official or government agency, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., will offer "additional views" to the panel's findings in a statement accusing President Bush of failing "to provide critical leadership when it was most needed."
"The United States was, and is, ill-prepared to respond to a catastrophic event of the magnitude of Hurricane Katrina," said the recommendations. "Catastrophic events are, by their nature, difficult to imagine and to adequately plan for, and the existing plans and training proved inadequate in Katrina." Read more.
Should FEMA be replaced?
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and jump into the debate!
Here's what people in the news are saying:
"It's time to stop playing around with the organizational charts and to start focusing on government, at all levels, that are preparing for this storm season." — Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke
"It sounds like they're just re-creating the wheel and making it look like they're calling for change. If indeed that's all they're doing, they owe more than that to the American public." — Former FEMA Director Michael Brown
Check out what FOX Fans are saying:
There are a lot of government agencies that should be either replaced or revamped - Immigration being number one on the list, but FEMA needs a major overhaul. The biggest obstacle to any agency changing is asking the government to police itself." — Sandy (Bamberg, SC)
"Don't stop FEMA. The basic idea is sound, it's just the way it's been run. This country needs an agency such as this for protection against those who would take away our freedom." — Virginia
"FEMA is fine. The complainers should be replaced." — Bobette
"We don’t need another government agency. Fix FEMA with the knowledge of all the shortcomings that occurred in Katrina, it should be obvious." — James (Michigan)
"No it should not be replaced!! I think FEMA needs replace the people running it. From the over payments to their basic inability to communicate within their own agency, points to poor management and a lack of focus on there job. I was a service manger for half the USA, and if I ran my business like that I would be gone. Let's try to get someone in there with some good old common sense!" — Tom (Hurst, TX)
"The one fact that was decried and implied by emergency managers at all levels was that FEMA became impotent due to the very work that Senators Collins and Lieberman were responsible for — i.e. the creation of DHS and FEMA's integration into it. FEMA was destroyed when it lost unity of command and was not funded, trained or allowed to focus on its primary mission. What responsibility has either of the two senators or their committee accepted due to this investigation? What recommendation(s) does the Senate Committee have for itself?" — Larry (Tupelo, MS)
"The only thing wrong with FEMA is the disproportionate amount of political appointees President Bush assigned to the agency. Replace these hacks with people who have actual experience in disaster management and FEMA will be just fine." — Kevin (Tirrenia, Italy)
"I have a suggestion for the panel: Fire yourself! Congress, the president, and his inept administration should and will be replaced eventually. They are responsible for falling asleep at the wheel. And for Bush that is a literal statement since he thought it'd be best just to nap on it and let it 'blow' over. Blow over it did, and at the cost of millions in resources and thousands upon thousands of lives (destroyed and devastated)." — J.B. (Formerly of New Orleans, LA and now in Brooklyn, NY)
"I think that just about every government agency should be revamped. Everyone and every project receiving grant money should be reevaluated. I don't blame FEMA for the Katrina disaster. I blame the local and state leadership for their utter failure to prepare and then function properly after the storm." — Laura (Colorado)
"No, they have done a decent job over the years. However, the leadership needs to go, from the top on down to the directors. FEMA needs to be apolitical, as politics generally ruins any organization. Then, people have to realize that the government can't (and shouldn't) do everything. The government should provide basic necessities like food, water, shelter, medical care, and, yes, even low-interest loans. Other than that, people need to take care of themselves. That's also what local government is for: to help its people out after FEMA is done, and even then only to a point. Americans should take care of each other and themselves." — Jerry (Salt Lake City, UT)
"Yes, finish FEMA and turn the responsibility over an organization that has a proven track record of efficiency and effectiveness: Wal-Mart! Heck, now that I think about it, we should turn the whole darn federal government over to Wal-Mart's management team!" — Bill (Virginia)
"FEMA is a government organization which has helped many an American during natural disasters. New Orleans was a catastrophe, in the roots of which were founded in corruption in level construction and poor local and state planning. If any city is hit with such natural force, it will be just as bad no matter what federal organization is created to replace FEMA." — Ed (Cheyenne, WY)
"Absolutely. Get rid of it and don't replace it! Why should taxpayers have to pay for peoples' stupidity? People build and rebuild on locations they know are susceptible to flooding and other natural disasters and we, the taxpayers, end up paying for it. Why should we? Let these idiots buy their own insurance and let them pay for it." — Harold (Seattle, WA)
"Rebuilding FEMA might be better. There should be no input from the White House. Let the people who know how to deal with a large scale emergency organize and run it. Someone with military experience or someone that has done it on a national or state level that has been involved in hurricanes or tornado recovery should run FEMA — not a political hack!" — Tom
"Step one: Replace Bush and his cronies. Step two: Get rid of Homeland Security. We need real leadership back in the White House and in Congress, and, come midterm elections, we will see that begin to happen. The GOP has done nothing but make a mess of this country. It is time to take our country back from those who simply want to profit off of it at any cost." — Jake (Charlotte, NC)