Executive order consolidating government in emergency
The agency's primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities.The governor of the state in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that FEMA and the federal government respond to the disaster.Following the September 11, 2001, attacks, Congress passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to better coordinate among the different federal agencies that deal with law enforcement, disaster preparedness and recovery, border protection and civil defense.
These actions demonstrated that, during those years, the nation's domestic preparedness was addressed by several disparate legislative actions, motivated by policy and budgetary earmarking, and not by a single, unifying, comprehensive strategy to meet the nation's needs over time.
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 demonstrated that the vision of further unification of functions and another reorganization could not address the problems FEMA had previously faced.
The "Final Report of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina", released February 15, 2006, by the U. Government Printing Office, revealed that federal funding to states for "all hazards" disaster preparedness needs was not awarded unless the local agencies made the purposes for the funding a "just terrorism" function.
As a result, FEMA became part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate of Department of Homeland Security, employing more than 2,600 full-time employees. Brown warned in September 2003 that FEMA's absorption into DHS would make a mockery of FEMA's new motto, "A Nation Prepared", and would "fundamentally sever FEMA from its core functions", "shatter agency morale" and "break longstanding, effective and tested relationships with states and first responder stakeholders".
It became the Federal Emergency Management Agency again on March 31, 2007, but remained in DHS. The inevitable result of the reorganization of 2003, warned Brown, would be "an ineffective and uncoordinated response" to a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.