FEMA: Laundering of Power and the Consequences of Apathy Towards Government

March 20th, 2012
in econ_news

Econintersect: How many Americans truly understand and follow the government’s actions day-to-day?  It’s hard to be clearly informed and up to date on every single change or making of policies nowadays. However, there is a difference between low level policy making which may only affect a general population or industry and a policy which entirely develops new legal framework for controlling the nation under “emergency” circumstances and adding additional power to already powerful government agencies.

This brings us to the question: Did the President just completely erase the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)?

Follow up:

According to the 16 March 2012 Executive Order -- "National Defense Resources Preparedness", the President recently cut out parts of the 03 June 1994 Executive Order 12919, deeming the Director of FEMA as an “advisor” to the National Security Council “on issues of national security, resource preparedness and on the use of the authorities and functions delegated by this order…”

This may be an insignificant editing of legal documents only affecting FEMA and other affiliated government organizations, but what the exact operational change is unclear. This is when it’s important to pay attention to the wording.  A summary by Front Porch Politics summarized that the President:

....... granted to himself authority to approve the dispensing of all domestic energy, production, transportation, food, and water supplies as he deems necessary to protect national security.

The document itself though is not limited to a time of war or even of that of a natural disaster. Rather the text of the document says that the President can invoke these powers for national defense in the “full spectrum of emergencies” (Sec 103a).

Here is a snapshot of the executive order 12919, in which FEMA's powers were changed. The new role and powers of the Director of FEMA are bolded and italicized towards the bottom:

Sec. 803. Authority. (a) Executive Order 12919 of June 3, 1994, and sections 401(3) (4) of Executive Order 12656 of November 18, 1988, are revoked

Executive Order 12919 of June 3, 1994 - National Defense Industrial Resources Preparedness

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (64 Stat. 798; 50 U.S.C. App. 2061, et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:


PART I—PURPOSE, POLICY AND IMPLEMENTATION
Section 101. Purpose. This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense industrial resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (‘‘the Act’’), except for the amendments to Title III of the Act in the Energy Security Act of 1980 and telecommunication authorities under Executive Order No. 12472.


Sec. 102. Policy. The United States must have an industrial and technology base capable of meeting national defense requirements, and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency. The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness. The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to all threats to the national security of the United States.


Sec. 103. General Functions. Federal departments and agencies responsible for defense acquisition (or for industrial resources needed to support defense acquisition) shall:
(a) Identify requirements for the full spectrum of national security emergencies, including military, industrial, and essential civilian demand;
(b) Assess continually the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of adequate industrial resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel;
(c) Be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate industrial resources and production capability, including services and critical technology for national defense requirements;
(d) Improve the efficiency and responsiveness, to defense requirements, of the domestic industrial base; and
(e) Foster cooperation between the defense and commercial sectors for research and development and for acquisition of materials, components, and equipment to enhance industrial base efficiency and responsiveness.


Sec. 104. Implementation. (a) The National Security Council is the principal forum for consideration and resolution of national security resource preparedness policy.

(b) The Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency (‘‘Director, FEMA’’) shall:
(1) Serve as an advisor to the National Security Council on issues of national security resource preparedness and on the use of the authorities and functions delegated by this order;


Now, here are the previous powers of FEMA as defined by the unrevised executive order:

(f) Prior to activating the NDER unit, the head of the agency shall notify, in writing, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism of the impending activation.

(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall issue necessary guidance for the NDER program, including appropriate guidance for establishment, recruitment, training, monitoring, and activation of NDER units and shall be responsible for the overall coordination of the NDER program. The authority of the President under section 710(e) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2160(e), to determine periods of national defense emergency is delegated to the Secretary of Homeland Security.

 

What does this revision mean for the role of the American government?

1. Government agencies appear to be given more powers

2. The following agency heads now have the power to "allocate materials, services and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense"

  • The Secretary of Agriculture
  • The Secretary of Energy
  • The Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • The Secretary of Transportation
  • The Secretary of Defense
  • The Secretary of Commerce

*note: (b) The Secretary of each agency delegated authority under subsection (a) of this section (resource departments) shall plan for and issue regulations to prioritize and allocate resources and establish standards and procedures by which the authority shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions. Each Secretary shall authorize the heads of other agencies, as appropriate, to place priority ratings on contracts and orders for materials, services, and facilities needed in support of programs approved under section 202 of this order."

Many of these changes could be interpreted as a reissue of prior executive orders. However:

Sec. 802. General. (a) Except as otherwise provided in section 802(c) of this order, the authorities vested in the President by title VII of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2151 et seq., are delegated to the head of each agency in carrying out the delegated authorities under the Act and this order, by the Secretary of Labor in carrying out part VI of this order, and by the Secretary of the Treasury in exercising the functions assigned in Executive Order 11858, as amended.

(b) The authorities that may be exercised and performed pursuant to section 802(a) of this order shall include:


(1) the power to redelegate authorities, and to authorize the successive redelegation of authorities to agencies, officers, and employees of the Government; and


(2) the power of subpoena under section 705 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2155, with respect to (i) authorities delegated in parts II, III, and section 702 of this order, and (ii) the functions assigned to the Secretary of the Treasury in Executive Order 11858, as amended, provided that the subpoena power referenced in subsections (i) and (ii) shall be utilized only after the scope and purpose of the investigation, inspection, or inquiry to which the subpoena relates have been defined either by the appropriate officer identified in section 802(a) of this order or by such other person or persons as the officer shall designate.


(c) Excluded from the authorities delegated by section 802(a) of this order are authorities delegated by parts IV and V of this order, authorities in section 721 and 722 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2170 2171, and the authority with respect to fixing compensation under section 703 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2153.

There are many YouTube videos now up on this subject, but all are too partisan to post.  This executive order raises many questions on why it was issued, and what will be the real operational changes.

hat tip: Roger Erickson and the MMT discussion stream

by Jillian Friesen

Sources: Front Porch Politics, Whitehouse.gov,

 









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