Sunday, April 16, 2006

Homeland Security criticizes FEMA over Katrina

Homeland Security criticizes FEMA over Katrina: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. government officials allowed concerns about terrorism to overshadow the dangers posed by natural disasters after the September 11 attacks, even though such disasters occur more frequently and are not preventable, The New York Times reported on Saturday citing a new Department of Homeland Security report.

The report concluded that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, roundly criticized for its slow and often ineffective response to Hurricane Katrina last year, needed to improve.

"Much of the criticism is warranted," the Times quoted the report as saying about FEMA's Katrina response.

The report by the department's inspector general, Richard Skinner, offered 38 recommendations for improving FEMA's effectiveness in areas ranging from housing for disaster victims to communicating with local officials, the Times said.

It said the agency must do a better job training employees, improve its computer systems and win more effective support from the Department of Homeland Security, which recently assumed responsibility for the embattled, once-independent agency.

It added that Homeland Security's takeover of FEMA had not been smooth, with full integration requiring "additional work and a level of support not currently demonstrated," the report said.