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FEMA’s Response To My Letter: A Blow Off

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FEMA’s response seems to be a low-level bureaucratic “ignore”

FEMA's ResponseI’m disappointed by FEMA’s response to my March 28, 2019 letter which I posted here. As you may recall, I wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after not hearing from them on a letter I had sent them on March 7, 2018 – a year previous. When you write to the federal government, disappointment often goes with the territory.

First, let me say that I am a fan of FEMA. I love the agency. Every presentation I do I am pushing FEMA’s strategic plan. (And every presentation I do, I get asked to do more presentations in the communities of people in the audience.)

Well, I received an email from FEMA on May 29, 2019. Part of my disappointment is that FEMA claims to have responded to my March 7, 2018 letter on December 26, 2017. The math simply does not work here. (Actually, their December 26, 2017 letter was in response to another letter I wrote them on December 6, 2017 – see below for links to all of the letters.)

In the first paragraph, FEMA distances themselves from the March 1, 2019 Emergency Management Magazine article and the January 2019 report. However, it actually doesn’t appear that the person who responded (the “Resilience Action Office”) even bothered to read my letter. They certainly didn’t respond to much that I wrote.

A Bad Cut-And-Paste Job:

Notwithstanding the initial date error in FEMA’s response, I was confused that FEMA would claim that they were the lead in protecting the critical infrastructure from EMP and GMD threats. FEMA wrote:

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) serves as the Nation’s risk advisors for critical infrastructure owners and operators. We lead the national effort to secure and protect critical infrastructure from all threats and hazards, to include EMP and GMD. CISA’s primary role in managing EMP and GMD risks is through cross-sector coordination and information sharing, to ensure stakeholders have access to current information on risks and any resources to assist with mitigation efforts. [Emphasis added.]

That is, until I realized that this was a cut-and-paste from the testimony of Brian Harrell, the head of CISA from a February 27, 2019 Senate hearing. In FEMA’s response email, FEMA forgot to change the “we” to “they” when they pasted it in. Here is what Brian Harrell said for comparison:

CISA serves as the Nation’s risk advisors for critical infrastructure owners and operators. We lead the national effort to secure and protect critical infrastructure from all threats and hazards, to include EMP and GMD. CISA’s primary role in managing EMP and GMD risks is through cross-sector coordination and information sharing, to ensure stakeholders have access to current information on risks and any resources to assist with mitigation efforts.

But that is not all that FEMA cut-and-pasted from Brian Harrell’s testimony in their email response to my letter. The next paragraph in FEMA’s response email is:

All critical infrastructure sectors are, to some degree, at risk from EMP and GMD events due to the potential loss of critical functions. However, the precise extent of critical infrastructure vulnerabilities to such events remain uncertain. CISA acknowledge that sectors like energy and communications are of greatest concern due to their vulnerabilities to EMP, however, other sectors are also at risk due to their dependencies on these two sectors. For those reasons, relative to other sectors, there have been a lot of energy and communications sector activities to mitigate EMP and GMD threats.

Coincidentally, Brian Harrell in his testimony says:

All critical infrastructure sectors are, to some degree, at risk from EMP and GMD events due to the potential loss of critical functions. However the precise extent of critical infrastructure vulnerabilities to such events remain uncertain. We acknowledge that sectors like energy and communications are of greatest concern due to their vulnerabilities to EMP, however, other sectors are also at risk due to their dependencies on these two sectors. For those reasons, relative to other sectors, there have been a lot of energy and communications sector activities to mitigate EMP and GMD threats.

No need to belabor the point here, but the next paragraph is also a wholesale cut-and-paste. Three paragraphs of FEMA’s response email were cut and pasted from Brian Harrell’s testimony.

Essentially, FEMA’s email is a perfunctory non-response. It is disappointing because I took a great deal of time and effort to write to these letters, and FEMA’s blow-off of my letters could have at least been written by somebody who read them.

I guess FEMA isn’t interested in what I have to say.

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Here are all my letters to FEMA and their two responses:

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