My friend, Bloomberg correspondent Mike Forsythe, has given me permission to reproduce his article on FEMA in full, as it's not easily available online:
FEMA Spoils System Leaves Few Experts Managing Crisis Agency
By Michael Forsythe
Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency's upper ranks are mostly staffed with people who share two traits: loyalty to President George W. Bush and little or no background in emergency management.
Director Michael Brown served as commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association for a decade before coming to FEMA in 2001. Acting Deputy Director Patrick Rhode is a veteran of Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, and Acting Deputy Chief of Staff Brooks Altshuler worked in the White House in 2001 planning presidential trips.
The lack of experience among Brown's top lieutenants in responding to disasters was revealed by Hurricane Katrina, said Paul Light, a professor of organizational studies at New York University. It also marks a reversion to the days when the agency was treated as a ``turkey farm'' -- a place where political operatives could get high-level jobs -- after being led by professionals during
the Clinton administration, he said.
``These guys kind of have a deer-in-the headlights look; they haven't been through this kind of thing and it shows,'' said Light, the founding director of the Center for Public Service at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based research group. ``I'm afraid FEMA has gone backwards in time to the old era of a more traditional campaign-loyalty position.''