For the past three years we’ve been told that our government is preparing for an attack on a major U.S. city. We have funneled billions of dollars into Homeland Security. We’ve appointed Homeland Czars and launched comprehensive initiatives for coordinating agency efforts. So what do we have to show for all of this? The answer is clear: very little!
To this day, many Federal Agencies eager to help contribute to Hurricane Katrina’s disaster relief have been stymied by an utter lack of federal coordination. The Department of Homeland Security has still not established a clear chain of command. They have not told the Department of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Agriculture, or Transportation, what their specific agency’s mission is. Consequently, well-meaning Federal agencies are making good faith efforts to help, but lack the authority or the funding to accomplish their tasks. The problem is straightforward: the Department of Homeland Security has not assigned the other federal agencies a clear mission for rebuilding.
Now that we are moving beyond the emergency stage, it is essential that leaders provide the kind of vision that will help to focus efforts and inspire cooperation throughout the Federal Government. We need a Field General who can lay out the overall battle plan for rebuilding, competently assign tasks, and then empower individual Cabinet Secretaries, Mayors, Governors, and others to carry out their objectives.