+Amy Liu, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program & Allison Plyer, Deputy Director, Greater New Orleans Nonprofit Knowledge Works, Brookings Institution and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, The New Orleans Index at Five (August 2010)
Disasters & the Law
UC Berkeley School of Law
3 entriesexpand all
+Bourne, Marko, Director, Office of Policy & Program Analysis, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), Hurricaine Katrina Multitier Contracts (June 2008) (OIG 08-81) (PDF — 603K)
"We initiated this audit in response to Congressional concerns that, in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, multitier subcontracting (1) increased costs to the government, (2) limited opportunities for small and local businesses to participate in response and recovery efforts, and (3) resulted in layers of subcontractors being paid profit and overhead while adding little or no value to the work performed under the contract. Our objectives were to determine the validity of these concerns, as well as to determine the potential effect Section 692 of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 could have on future disaster contracting.
"It does not appear that multitier subcontracting, as an isolated factor, caused significant increases in costs to the government, nor did it reduce subcontracting opportunities for small and local businesses. The prime contractors subcontracted a significant amount of the value of their contracts to small and local businesses.
"Although FEMA relied on large national prime contractors, initially preventing small and local businesses from participating as prime contractors themselves, the national prime contractors generally did well hiring small and local subcontractors. However, because subcontractor invoices generally do not include specific information on lower tier subcontractors, we could not determine how many layers of subcontracting existed on contracts or whether any layers involved contractors charging profit without contributing substantially to the work being performed on the contract.
"Although Section 692 of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 would limit subcontracting to 65% of total contract costs, nothing in this legislation specifically restricts the number of tiers of subcontractors. Further, by limiting subcontracting, Section 692 could restrict funding available to small and local businesses while potentially impairing FEMA's ability to respond quickly to future catastrophic disasters. The Department of Defense has promulgated less restrictive rules to control multitiering that reduce the risks inherent in Section 692. Therefore, we recommend FEMA officials work with DHS officials, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and Congress to promulgate less restrictive rules over multitier contracting." —Executive Summary.
+Martel, Charles, Bring it on Home: A Gulf Coast Marshall Plan Based on International Humanitarian Standards (provided by: SSRN) (Vermont Law Review, Vol. 32, Book 1, Fall 2007)
"The article is a critique of the U.S. government's response to regional recovery following Hurricane Katrina, coupled with an argument that policies based on international standards would better serve the hurricane-stricken area. The author contends that part of the problem is that the legal framework for disaster relief, the federal Stafford Act, is insufficient for shaping recovery for catastrophic humanitarian crises that overwhelm state and local governments. Because the Act calls only for discretionary, intermittent federal efforts, and shields such efforts with broad legal immunity, it is a prescription for the sluggish and ineffective governmental action that has hamstrung the Gulf region's recovery.
"The author maintains that what is needed is a comprehensive recovery program akin to the post World War II Marshall Plan. International standards for humanitarian responses to disaster, specifically the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, serve as a policy framework for such a program. The Principles allow for recognition that a crisis on the scale of Katrina calls for a more robust, centralized, federally-led response that addresses the scope of the problem and the interdependency of its many facets.
"The article has five parts. First is an analysis of the situation in the region, focusing on the New Orleans area. Here the author identifies three categories of problems - the problem of return and rebuilding, focusing on private property and civic infrastructure; the problem of security, focusing on flood protection, levees, and wetlands; and the problem of government, focusing on inefficiency, incompetence and inadequate resource allocation.
"The article's second part analyzes the problem in the law. The Stafford Act is reviewed and judicial criticisms discussed. Part three of the article reviews the specific provisions of the Guiding Principles that apply to the Gulf Coast. The author considers the legal status of the Principles, concluding that while certain of the principles may be evolving into customary international law, they are not legally binding but rather intended as a general policy framework.
"In the fourth part of the article, the author recommends the following sixteen point "Marshall Plan for the Gulf" based on the Principles: 1. The federal government will assume primary responsibility for an integrated recovery effort. 2. All persons displaced or injured by the disaster have recovery rights. 3. Displaced persons willing to return have a right to return and their displacement will end as soon as possible. 4. Living conditions will be established that are materially sufficient to allow persons to return and remain. 5. The government will assist persons whose homes are recoverable to repair and rebuild, and must ensure access to decent and affordable housing. 6. Comprehensive, reliable flood protection measures will be taken, including strengthened levees and coastal wetlands. 7. Ineffective bureaucracies will be replaced by streamlined, efficient, effective and easily understood administrative processes for relief and recovery. 8. The military will be deployed for debris removal and rebuilding. 9. Personal property and possessions will be protected and disaster victims will be reasonably compensated for losses. 10. Gulf Coast residents will have access to health care. 11. The government will reopen schools and take other measures to ensure education for all children in stricken communities. 12. The government will take steps to increase economic opportunities in stricken areas, such as partnerships, incentives and assistance for businesses which reopen or locate in the region. 13. The right of evacuees to participate in politics and civic life must be ensured. 14. Storm victims will be included in recovery planning. 15. Anti-discrimination measures will be enforced to ensure that the disaster and recovery do not have a discriminatory effect. 16. The special needs of at risk groups will be met.
"In the fifth part of the article, the author posits that U.S. adoption of the Principles as the basis for international disaster recovery efforts forms a moral and political basis for their domestic application in the Gulf. This is demonstrated by formal U.S. policy promoting the Principles as well as actual U.S. implementation of the Principles in Iraq and in response to the 2004 tsunamis." —Abstract.