Rebirth Redux

Back in the mid-1990s, we had an unwritten rule at Government Executive - no more stories about how great the Federal Emergency Management Agency is.

It wasn't that we thought FEMA was doing poorly. In fact, none of us doubted the essential truth of the agency's story at that moment: Public outrage in the wake of poor responses to Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and Hurricane Andrew in 1992 leads to the elevation of the agency to Cabinet status and the appointment of an experienced emergency management professional, James Lee Witt, to head its operations. He orchestrates a dramatic turnaround that manifests itself in impressive responses to everything from the Oklahoma City bombing to floods on the Red River in North Dakota.

We just thought FEMA's success story had been done to death. At the time we didn't know that the agency was about to make the journey back to the dark side, culminating in its return to its former status as the poster child for ineffective government after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

That's why it's such a pleasure to focus once again on the agency's rebirth. In this issue, Katherine McIntire Peters takes an inside look at FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison's post-Katrina effort to rebuild the staff and to streamline response procedures. It's no coincidence that Paulison is a 36-year veteran of disaster management. Experienced executives, it turns out, are just what the doctor ordered for the ailing FEMA-and other agencies, too. That's why we're also pleased to feature in a special supplement in this issue the recipients of the annual Presidential Rank Awards for distinguished executives and senior professionals. They are the government's elite and their accomplishments are inspiring.

In the supplement, we profile four people who we believe illustrate the breadth of accomplishments of this year's winners: Lucille B. Beck, who has put advances in auditory technology to work in helping veterans; Matt Reres, who served as the Army's ethical standard-bearer; Alan R. Shaffer, who works to bring the latest technological advances to American troops; and Deborah J. Spero, who helped the Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection Bureau establish its identity when it was created after the Sept. 11 attacks.

They and the other winners will be honored by the Senior Executives Association at a gala dinner in Washington on April 17. The following day, Government Executive will host a reception and symposium honoring another 283 executives who have been designated as "meritorious" in the Presidential Rank Awards. We're proud to give these peak performers the recognition they have earned over long careers of federal service.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.