Rich Galen

I know I'm being unfairly snarky about FEMA and the people who work there. During my brief association with FEMA in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, I wrote about the fact that the day-to-day people who make up FEMA spend their days helping people whose lives have been seriously disrupted or utterly destroyed.

Brownie notwithstanding, I was, and remain, impressed with people - cops and firefighters included - who choose that path as a career.

However … we are spending $5.5 billion on FEMA and, if the agency is not authorized, not qualified, and/or not equipped to be in charge of a disaster then perhaps a good re-think is in order before the FY 2011 appropriation is adopted.

The Coast Guard which, under the direction of Adm. Thad Allen, is also an agency under DHS. Maybe looking at what the Coast Guard is doing, that FEMA is not doing, will not, or cannot do, would help redeploy DHS resources to be more efficient and more effective.

Speaking of which, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano hasn't been seen or heard from in about a month, a quick Google search showed. Her last official pronouncement appears to have been on May 18 - less than a month after the BP well blew out - when, according to a Washington Times account, she told a Senate panel that "plugging the blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico could take weeks."

Oh. So, that's why we haven't heard from her recently.

At a time when governments at every level are awash in red ink, we need to be smarter about the money we are spending and honest about whether we are spending it wisely.

FEMA might be a good place to start.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at