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Business “Not” as Usual: The National Incident Management System, Federalism, and Leadership

Authors

  • William Lester,

    Corresponding author
    1. Jacksonville State University
      William Lester is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Jacksonville State University. His research interests include organizational theory, intergovernmental relationships, leadership studies, ethics, and public personnel.
      E-mail: wlester@jsu.edu
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  • Daniel Krejci

    Corresponding author
    1. Jacksonville State University
      Daniel Krejci is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Jacksonville State University. His research interests include leadership and ethics, social policy, state and local politics, public finance administration, and public management. He currently serves on the Executive Council of the Alabama Political Science Association.
      E-mail: dkrejci@jsu.edu
    Search for more papers by this author

William Lester is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Jacksonville State University. His research interests include organizational theory, intergovernmental relationships, leadership studies, ethics, and public personnel.
E-mail: wlester@jsu.edu

Daniel Krejci is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at Jacksonville State University. His research interests include leadership and ethics, social policy, state and local politics, public finance administration, and public management. He currently serves on the Executive Council of the Alabama Political Science Association.
E-mail: dkrejci@jsu.edu

Abstract

Federal, state, and local governments did not work well together to provide an effective response to Hurricane Katrina. Some of this failure can be attributed to the power struggle between the federal and state governments. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) was designed to foster collaboration among governments and their departments and agencies. However, this system largely failed. To overcome this failure, many have proposed centralizing disaster response in the federal government. Centralized control would damage the basic federal structure of our government as the national government appeals to the ever-present dangers of terrorism and natural disaster to gain permanent primacy in the relationship. The current federal system actually can work better than centralization if leadership and organizational transformation are stressed. The National Incident Management System has many elements in place that can make the federal system of disaster response work if the proper stress on organizational transformation and leadership is applied.

If we ignore the systemic issues and simply replace people or re-assign responsibilities, we may simply fail again in the not too distant future with a different cast of characters.

John R. Harrald, director of the Institute for Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management,

   George Washington University

U.S. House Committee on Government Reform hearing, September 15, 2005

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