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Memos Announcing Departure of FEMA Chiefs

By Ed O'Keefe

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison and deputy administrator Harvey E. Johnson Jr., worked through this morning in order to assure a seamless, safe transition. FEMA released farewell memos for Paulison and Johnson this morning:

R. David Paulison Announces Departure

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I will be stepping down as Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) effective 12:00 p.m. on 21 January 2009. I want to take this opportunity to thank President Bush and Secretary Chertoff for the opportunity to serve them and the American public in this critical position during such an important time.

Since 2006, I have had the great honor and fortune to work with dedicated people and oversee marked progress in this organization. We have embraced a culture of preparedness, dispersing billions of dollars in emergency preparedness grants, publishing the National Response Framework, the National Disaster Housing Strategy and conducting gap analysis activities working with state emergency managers to balance strengths and gaps before a disaster strikes. We have enhanced training and readiness through pre-scripted mission assignments, we have increased our staff from 1,500 people to more than 3,700 highly-trained experts in their field, and we continue to build upon critical emergency responder partnerships.

In 2008 alone, we responded to 90 declared disaster, assisting 36 states. There were record floods in the Midwest, affecting a six-state area. It was the fourth busiest hurricane season since 1944. We managed more than 1.5 million disaster assistance applications, provided more than $1 billion to assist individuals in their recovery and obligated an additional $1.4 billion to assist local communities. It was a busier year, and there is still much work to do.

We have put in place a robust transition plan to assist the incoming Administration to build upon this foundation. Nancy Ward has been assigned as the Senior Career Transition Officer to ensure a smooth changeover. I have the utmost confidence in her and each career deputy among our directorates to steer the ship until the new senior leadership team is in place.

I leave FEMA with the same core beliefs I have tried to instill since my arrival. Everyone is part of the emergency management process. We must continue to develop a culture of preparedness in America in which every American takes personal responsibility for his or her own emergency preparedness. Lastly, I wish to thank Admiral Harvey Johnson whose support, leadership and vision provided enormous value every single day to the Agency, the Nation and the people of this great country.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Paulison Announces Johnson's Departure

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Harvey Johnson will be stepping down as Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) effective 12:00 p.m. on 21 January 2009. I want to take this opportunity to personally thank him for his stellar accomplishments and myriad contributions to FEMA. Everyday he added immeasurable value to the betterment of FEMA, its people and to the millions of Americans affected by disasters.

Since April 2006, Harvey has been a vital contributor to this organization after more than 30 years of dedicated service to his nation in the U.S. Coast Guard. He brought to this organization not only a wealth of emergency response and crisis management experience, but also a keen attention to detail to get things done and take care of people. The business practices he implemented will be an enduring testament to his positive impact on the organization long after his departure.

During his tenure here, he spearheaded FEMA's operational response and recovery efforts. In 2008 alone, he supervised the supply more than 42 million liters of water and 41 million emergency meals to disaster victims. Between the Midwest floods and Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, he led enough life-saving commodity distribution to support more than 32 million people. Of particular note, Harvey Johnson was instrumental to both the National Response Framework and the National Disaster Housing Strategy. The Housing Strategy provides the overarching vision, goals, and principles for a national disaster housing effort. It complements the 2008 Disaster Housing Plan, which describes the specific actions in meeting the housing needs for disaster victims. This past year FEMA provided more than 4,300 manufactured units to house disaster victims. The Strategy and the Plan that he administered have made a positive and lasting impact on those families.

We have put in place a robust transition plan to assist the incoming Administration to build upon this foundation. Nancy Ward has been assigned as the Senior Career Transition Officer to ensure a smooth changeover. I have the utmost confidence in her and each career deputy among our directorates to steer the ship until the new senior leadership team is in place.

They will undoubtedly benefit from the foundation and direction that Harvey Johnson has established. I thank him and wish him and his family well on behalf of FEMA and a grateful nation.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 21, 2009; 11:24 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Agencies and Departments, Revolving Door  
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Comments

Thank heavens the crypt keeper (M.C.) is gone! Homeland Security needs to be redone (and Secretary Napolitano has what it takes to get it done) with a primary goal of restoring FEMA back to where it was pre-GWB so debacles like Katrina NEVER happen again. Having an emergency system in place that works is paramount. Vigilance is a must in these times of climate change and weather extremes thus making FEMA all the more vital to the well-being of all Americans! NO MORE "Brownies" please.

Posted by: politico5 | January 21, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

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