Saturday, September 03, 2005

Silos and Katrina

Katrina exposes not only the class divide that David Brooks cites, but the silos resulting from our system of weak and divided government. (Professor Bainbridge cites the opposite position--the problem is big public bureaucracies.) Items:

  • each entity has their own communication system and, incredible as it seems, almost 4 years after 9/11 there are still areas where they can't communicate (I note that private enterprise hasn't been able to agree on standards for the next version of DVD so there's no magic there.)
  • the National Guard works state by state
  • each bureaucracy does its own thing by its own rules
  • the Corps of Engineers and FEMA may not coordinate well (it will be interesting to see in the postmortems the extent to which the design limits of the levee system was factored into disaster planning and whether, in the decisionmaking leading up to the design decision, the problems of evacuating 100,000 people with no means of private transport were realized)
It all gets back to the question of how you achieve aims by organization and minimize the problems across organization. I don't think there's a perfect solution, but we can certainly improve on Katrina

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