Who Was in Charge? Who Had the Answers?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Adam's Apple, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Deadly Bureaucracy
    By Bobby Jindal, U.S. Representative, Louisiana (R)
    September 8, 2005

    In Katrina's wake, red tape too often trumped common sense.

    There have already been a number of instances in which an overly inhibitive bureaucracy prevented an appropriate response to the disaster. For example, on Wednesday of last week a company called my office. With only three hours before rising waters would make the mission impossible, they were anxious to send a rescue helicopter for their stranded employees. They wanted to know who would give them a go-ahead.

    We could not identify the agency with authority. We heard that FEMA was in charge, that the FAA was in charge, and that the military was in charge. I went in person to talk with a FEMA representative and still could not get a straight answer. Finally we told the company to avoid interfering with Coast Guard missions, but to proceed on its own. Sometimes, asking for forgiveness is better than asking for permission.

    This is not the only story of red tape triumphing over common sense. After so many years of drills and exercises, we were still unprepared for Hurricane
    Katrina.

    • A mayor in my district tried to get supplies for his constituents, who were hit directly by the hurricane. He called for help and was put on hold for 45 minutes. Eventually, a bureaucrat promised to write a memo to his supervisor.

    • Evacuees on a boat from St. Bernard Parish could not find anyone to give them permission to dock along the Mississippi River. Security forces, they say, were prepared to turn them away at one port.

    • A sheriff in my district office reported being told that he would not get the resources his office needed to do its job unless he emailed a request. The parish was flooded and without electricity!

    • Unbelievably, first responders were hindered by a lack of interoperable communications. Do you recall how New York police and fire departments on 9/11 could not talk with each other? Four years later, despite billions spent on homeland security, state, federal, and local officials in Louisiana had the same problem.

    My office became so frustrated with the bureaucracy that we often turned to private companies. They responded more quickly and flexibly.

    After our staff visited communities to assess local needs, Budweiser delivered truckloads of water and ice. Ford provided vehicles for search and rescue. Every company we contacted provided goods and services without compensation.

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/cc/?id=110007224
     

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