Homeland watch

Clinton wants Cabinet-level FEMA

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) has reintroduced legislation to restore the Federal Emergency Management Agency to an independent, Cabinet-level agency. Under her bill, the director of FEMA would report to the president and would have full authority to coordinate with other agencies.

"While it has almost been two years, the pain of Hurricane Katrina and FEMA's inadequate response is still fresh in so many people's hearts and minds," Clinton said. "The head of FEMA must report directly to the president of the United States to establish the communication that is essential to ensuring that the highest levels of our government are coordinating and working effectively in the event of a disaster or emergency."

FEMA became part of the Homeland Security Department in 2002.

Options for Deepwater oversight

Congress will have to determine whether the Coast Guard has taken the appropriate steps to rein in the $24 billion Deepwater procurement, according to a new Congressional Research Service report.

The report recommends that Congress ask whether the Coast Guard has an adequate plan for assuming the role of lead systems integrator, whether metrics are in place to measure performance and whether the agency has enough in-house expertise to manage the acquisition.

Lawmakers may also want to consider whether to break Deepwater into separate procurements, rebid the lead integrator role or reduce the scope of that role, the report states.

Medical volunteers can register online

State public health departments are setting up online databases to register medical professionals who would volunteer to be available in the aftermath of disasters and during public emergencies.

Congress authorized the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals to address the complications that arose in using medical volunteers after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The Health and Human Services Department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response took over responsibility for the system in December 2006. However, many issues remain regarding liability, licensing, credentialing and compensation, according to the Center for Law and the Public's Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins universities.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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