Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman. I am Michael Brown, General Counsel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh asked me to represent him today, and regrets that he is unable to be here.
FEMA is pleased to appear before you to discuss the reauthorization of the Defense Production Act—the Nation’s major statute for mobilization readiness. As you know, the non-permanent provisions in Titles I, III, and VII will expire on September 30. The expiration of these provisions could have a severe impact on the Nation’s emergency resource preparedness to meet threats to our national security—including a terrorist weapon of mass destruction. We may also need to use DPA authorities to respond to other catastrophic civil emergencies.
The Administration views the possibility of such expiration as disruptive to ongoing programs under the Act. FEMA requests that a reauthorization of at least three years be considered by the Congress to ensure the continuation of these programs.
The President has delegated a number of responsibilities to the FEMA Director for the coordination and support of the Act under Executive Order 12919. These responsibilities include the duties to:
There are eight Federal departments and agencies with units of industry reservists available for use in emergencies. These reservists could not be used if the Congress does not reauthorize the DPA.
FEMA supports the NSC in coordinating the updating of Executive Orders relating to the DPA and supports interagency efforts such as the President’s Report to the Congress on the Modernization of the Defense Production Act submitted in 1997. In 1997 FEMA aided the Federal Bureau of Investigation in obtaining equipment in their counter intelligence role.
At the Federal level, FEMA is the lead agency for coordinating domestic hazards consequence management. We work with other departments and agencies to ensure that the Federal Government is prepared to respond to the consequences or potential consequences of natural and human-caused hazards, including terrorist incidents, as they relate to public health, safety, and property. DPA authorities are available to support consequence management—specifically those all-hazards emergency preparedness activities defined under Title VI of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act).
The term "emergency preparedness" means all those activities and measures designed or undertaken to:
To date, FEMA has not used DPA authorities in its domestic consequence management role. When confronted with a major disaster or emergency declared by the President, our first recourse is the Stafford Act. We intend to use DPA authorities for catastrophic disasters when resources to respond to such disasters and emergencies are unavailable in a timely manner. Circumstances that might warrant use of DPA Title I priorities and allocations authorities include a massive earthquake or the use of a terrorist weapon of mass destruction. Such events could have severe impacts on our populace and our national security that might not be met in the normal course of business in the marketplace and could warrant use of the DPA to effect timely delivery of needed materials and resources.
One of Director Allbaugh’s priorities is to have FEMA, in coordination with our Federal, State, and local partners, develop stand-by plans that can be used to respond to and recover from large catastrophic disasters. A key authority to obtain resources in such circumstances could be the use of priority orders authorized under Title I of the DPA. Failure to reauthorize the Act would severely hamper Federal efforts to respond and recover with required resources if they were not available in time to support the health and well being of the affected population.
In this context FEMA’s new Office of National Preparedness will be coordinating and integrating Federal preparedness activities in support of developing and building the national capability to manage the consequences of a terrorist incident involving a weapon of mass destruction. As part of this integration effort, the Office will be looking at the range of available authorities that can support terrorism preparedness and response, including DPA authorities, as appropriate.
In summary, the DPA’s linkage to the Stafford Act ensures the availability of needed resources when the Nation is facing a catastrophic disaster—whether natural or manmade. We urge the Congress to reauthorize the DPA before its expiration on September 30th.
I thank you for the opportunity to appear today. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
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