FEMA Gets a New Name: USEMA

WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced July 11 that it will recreate FEMA as the U.S. Emergency Management Authority (USEMA), reunite its response and preparedness functions, and ensure that the agency remains
within the DHS as an independent agency, similar to the current structure of the Coast Guard.

According to a statement released by the department, the amendment to the DHS appropriations bill, which was passed by the Senate and outlines the FEMA recreation as well as other revisions, reflects key recommendations of the Senate Committee resulting from the seven-month investigation into the failed preparations and response to Hurricane Katrina.

The following are highlights of the amendment:

  • Recreates FEMA and names it the U.S. Emergency Management Authority (USEMA)
  • The USEMA will be an independent agency within the DHS and will have the same protections currently provided to the U.S. Coast Guard. For example, the DHS Secretary will have no authority to reorganize the structure of the agency, erode its assets or functions, or alter its mission without approval by Congress.
  • Preparedness functions would be joined with response capabilities so that the organization that works with state and local officials to prepare for disasters is the same one that works with state and local officials to respond to disasters.
  • USEMA would have a strengthened regional focus with federal “strike teams” for faster and more effective responses. These teams would ensure that the USEMA is familiar with regional threats and with state and local emergency personnel and can rapidly and effectively cooperate with first responders and public officials in disaster areas.
  • The administrator of USEMA will report to the DHS Secretary, but will also have direct access to the President to advise on emergency management matters, much as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff does on military issues.
  • Ensures that the administrator of USEMA has direct access to the President and serves as principal emergency-management advisor.

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