At 10, we’re talking about the future of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
One argument is that states are not prepared enough for disaster because they expect that FEMA will swoop in and save the day if disaster strikes.
William A. Jacobson argues in The New York Times that FEMA should only move in when states working with private contractors can’t handle a disaster.
The most efficient role for the federal government is to fill in where states cannot, for example, where the damage is of such a nature that it is not amenable to state or local solutions. Hurricane damage typically is localized, and requires a street-by-street response which the federal government is ill prepared to provide. A large oil spill, by contrast, is not capable of local relief alone, and that is where federal coordination can be most effective.