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Gov't Auditors Warned Bush Administration About Poor Firefighting Plans


Health & Wellness  (tags: Bush, government, incompetence, environment, health, prevention, protection, homeland security, risks, National Guard )

Blue
- 3706 days ago - huffingtonpost.com
The GAO, Congress's nonpartisan auditor, issued stark warnings earlier this year on shortcomings in the administration's plans to fight fires.



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Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 7:21 pm
As firefighters continue to risk their lives battling the inferno in southern California, evidence is growing that the Bush administration is not adequately prepared to support them.

The Government Accountability Office, Congress's nonpartisan auditor, issued stark warnings earlier this year on shortcomings in the administration's plans to fight fires.

In a June report, the GAO report faulted the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, and other agencies for failing to accomplish the "fundamental step" of planning out what assets and resources were needed to prepare for approaching fire seasons. Meanwhile, disaster response problems that have become all too familiar in recent years were also identified: administration officials placing resources where they were politically expedient, and using poorly performing contractors to accomplish critical national tasks.

Strong evidence of the specific federal government failures were provided by the Orange County Register this morning. The paper faulted federal planners for erecting red tape that prevented the use of more DC-10 airplanes to drop flame retardant on areas that were on fire.

"It would be nice to have more such planes available, don't you think?" an editorial in the paper asked. "If the federal government had had its way, even this one almost certainly wouldn't be flying this week....One can understand a certain amount of caution from the Forest Service, but this is bureaucratic overkill."

Robin Nazarro, the Director of GAO's Natural Resources and Environment program, told the Huffington Post why the Forest Service's planning has been inadequate.

"If you don't have goals and strategies for carrying them out, you're in a reactive mode rather than a proactive mode," the report's lead author said. "They say they are using 5 to 10 year averages, but each year the fires gets worse, so they're always underestimating what they need."

The report shows that the Bush administration was warned that the approximately $3 billion spent each year on fire prevention and suppression was not being used appropriately.

"Agencies have not yet improved their systems for determining the appropriate type and quantity of firefighting assets needed for the fire season or for effectively and efficiently procuring them," the GAO states.

The bad planning by the agencies even raised red flags in the White House, where the report's authors say that the President's Office of Management and Budget "told us they would not allow the firefighting agencies to publish long-term funding estimates until the agencies had sufficiently reliable data on which to base those estimates."

The GAO also criticized federal agencies for deploying costly firefighting resources "in response to political or social pressures."

"[F]irefighting assets may sit idle at a fire rather than be released for use elsewhere because managers are concerned that they will be unable to recall an asset if they need it later, or air tankers may drop flame retardants when on-the-ground conditions may not warrant such drops," it warns.

Other problems, the GAO notes, involve private contractors, a common malady in the Bush administration. The Forest Service has turned to national contractors that can deploy firefighting crews and aviation resources anywhere in the nation, but a failure to ensure accountability has resulted in poor performance.

"[R]equirements varied from contract to contract and did not ensure that the agencies obtained the most cost-effective assets," it reported. "Further, inadequate administration and oversight of the agreements by the agencies resulted in poor contractor performance and high rental rates."

Nazarro also highlighted the lack of skilled managers within the Forest Service in particular.

"They don't have enough managers trained in whether to engage in fire use or to suppress," the GAO researcher said. "They need 300 managers, but they're short, with fewer than 100 now, and only another 100 being trained."

Members of Congress blasted the Bush administration's firefighting planning this past summer after the GAO report's release. During a June hearing, Senator Bingaman warned that Bush had focused on cutting budgets in place of adequately preparing for wildfires.

"The Administration's budgets indicate that it believes that containing wildfire costs must come at the expense of preparedness," argued Bingaman, chairman of the Senate energy committee. "Its fiscal year 2008 budget proposes a nearly $90 million cut in the preparedness account. But starving the preparedness, wildfire suppression, and other Forest Service programs is not an effective or efficient strategy to contain those costs."

 

Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 7:24 pm
HOmeland $ecurity?

Fi$cal re$pon$ibility?

Give Bu$h more money for his $2.3 trillion illegal war$ as we all suffer at home because of Bu$h and his NeoCON$?

"The Administration's budgets indicate that it believes that containing wildfire costs must come at the expense of preparedness," argued Bingaman, chairman of the Senate energy committee. "Its fiscal year 2008 budget proposes a nearly $90 million cut in the preparedness account. But starving the preparedness, wildfire suppression, and other Forest Service programs is not an effective or efficient strategy to contain those costs."

 

Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 7:27 pm
Where is the National Guard?It is a sad irony that yesterday, the very day I sent fire crews to California, 300 more New Mexico National Guard members were sent to Iraq.Read Post | Comments (65) \
 

Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 7:29 pm
George Bush, his Republican friends and the Democrats who continue to allow this war to continue have not only broken our military, they've broken our National Guard.

The news this morning had images of Americans fleeing to a huge sports arena for shelter during a natural disaster that struck a familiar chord. When Katrina struck and the floods hit two years ago, a good portion of the Louisiana National Guard was in Iraq. How many people died in the days it took to get proper personnel on the ground in New Orleans? Today, as the fires rage, California has National Guard men, women, and critical equipment thousands of miles away in Iraq.

They need to come home. We need them here.

This has gone on long enough. When a national disaster hits, our states depend on the National Guard. Right now, President Bush is robbing Peter to pay Paul to continue his disastrous adventure in Iraq, and when tragedy hits us here at home, Americans are stuck with the bill. This cannot continue.

Bush won't end this war. Congress must. And they must end it now. We shouldn't have to wait until January, and we certainly can't wait until 2013 - we need our troops out of harm's way and our National Guard members back home where they belong.

 

Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 7:40 pm
White House Pretends that Probable Cause of California Wildfires Simply Doesn't ExistRead Post | Comments
 

Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 9:36 pm
Calif. Lt. Governor On Bush: “The Record Of This Administration On Dealing With Disasters Is Disastrous”

California’s Lt. Governor, John Garamendi, spoke with Chris Matthews on Hardball yesterday about the devastating wildfires that continue to sweep through southern California. To date, the fires have burned roughly the equivalent of New York City twice over, destroyed 1600 buildings and has caused the evacuation of 950,000 Californians. Garamendi was clearly upset at the destruction in the state and wasn’t shy about sharing how he felt Bush could be much more helpful to California than to simply make a visit:

Garamendi: I’ve got some doubt about the value of President Bush coming out here. That…um, how many times did he come out to New York, or to New Orleans? And still, made promises but hasn’t delivered. We have the Terminator out here; Gov. Schwarzeneggar is doing a good job. We’ll see.

Matthews: You think it’s public relations rather than action?

Garamendi: Of course it’s public relations. The actions taking place by the hardworking firefighters and men and women, police are out there on the line, and the community, that’s pulling together to support each other. That’s where the action’s taking place. I know I’m…okay, President Bush comes out; we’ll be polite. But frankly, that’s not the solution. How about sending our National Guard back from Iraq? So that we have those people here to help us?

That answer obviously didn’t sit well with Norah O’Donnell, who interviewed Garamendi today for an update on the fires:

Well, Governor (sic), I’ve heard you express concern because of the stress the National Guard, not only in California but across the country, have suffered of the involvement in Iraq. But we heard from Lt. Gen. Steven Blum who said today that there’s still 17,000 National Guardsmen in California; only 3,000 of the are in Iraq. So you’re not criticizing the National Guard, are you?

Good to see that in Noron’s world, she buys into that Republican framing that criticizing Bush means criticizing the troops (or California’s National Guard in this case). Garamendi isn’t the only one criticizing either. You know your reputation is shot when Brownie throws you under the bus

 

Carolyn T (234)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 9:54 pm
Excellent commentary on this, Blue Bunting. Without military here and without national guard presence, Buscho planned to use his private troops--a now scuttled plan. So who is here to defend our nation. We are...we are.
 

Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 24, 2007, 10:13 pm
First thing we should do, Carolyn, to defend our nation is deump Bu$h and Cheney, Rice and the re$t of the Bu$hie$ ... vote them all out of Congre$$ and the White Hou$e!
 

RC deWinter (418)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 3:46 am
Thanks, Blue...good info...
 

Past Member (0)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 4:20 am
Thanks Blue. Noted..K
 

Joycey B (750)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 4:24 am
Noted. Thanks Blue.
 

Michael Sandstrom (306)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 4:33 am
The only "good" plans they had were for Florida, not New Orleans etc... You reckon it might have something to do with his brother and the stolen election? I would list their bad plans but they wouldn't all fit here, you know Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, world domination etc...
 

. (0)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 5:48 am
Until we have a government that is more concerned with our own country's protection and preservation than that of war and destruction abroad, nothing will change here.
 

Blair Miller (246)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 5:57 am
Thanks BLue. NO surprise to me with this administration.
 

Phyllis P (251)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 7:50 am
posted...thanks
 

Tsandi Crew (95)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 7:56 am
Thankfully the state of California was prepared. Much more prepared than the State of Louisiana was!
 

(1)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 8:20 am
It's a good thing we have Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on our side he took matters in his own hands and made things happen (didn't stand around and wait for Bush and didn't complain) Lesson to be learned here Stand up and make things happen and make Bush to work for you (Bush is going to California today)

(foot note) I hope I do not not run into him LOL
 

Past Member (0)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 8:29 am
Mr. Bush does not listen to his own rhetoric but only honors it's stupidity. He declared a vigilance that dismisses the association between arson,opportunity, and terrorism.Maybe he needs to watch more TV- maybe '24'-and get the idea of plot development. We sure know Laura didn't meet him in a library. He keeps trying to jam his foot in the glass slipper. Sorry for the sarcasm- maybe I'm oxygen deprived from breathing ashes with my air. Just like in massive fires in 2003- and we have been expecting it-again- ever since. Only this time with a vengeance.
Sorry- Tsandi- we were woefully unprepared. Not enough firefighters- one firechief said he knew when fires started -in Malibu-he didn't have the manpower and said deciding where to go first was like picking which child should live. I have been here 30 years. It has never been so dry. After the rains- the mudslides begin. They are building on toxic sights- condos and the fiasco of a high school. California - has no better infrastructure than any other state and less in So.Ca. We have a country to the south we have to provide for too. Very little left for citizens.Or their property.
 

Blue B (855)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 8:50 am
CA Guard Warned Of ‘Less Effective Response’ To Fires Due To Equipment Shortages Caused By Iraq
 

Blue B (855)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 8:50 am
‘Brownie’ available to talk about wildfire response.
 

Blue B (855)
 

Blue B (855)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 8:55 am
This map is updating more frequently....http://lang.dailynews.com/socal/editorial/inter/wildfires/socal.html
 

Blue B (855)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 9:02 am
Fires' Long-Term Impact On Environment Wildfires Have Consequences For California's Landscape, Plants, Animals For Years To Come - CBS News
 

Blue B (855)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 10:12 am
We Can't Afford This Damn War AnymoreRead Post | Comments (44)


The bottom line is Bush and his war have done nothing except endanger the fiscal health of future US generations.

Let's go over the basic facts -- again, for those of you playing along at home. Bush inherited a budget surplus. And he went right back to the Regan school of economics: cut taxes for the rich and mire the country in debt.


Just in case you forgot -- the current level of total federal debt is

$9,057,981,725,122.80

And notice that every year, the federal government has issued tons of debt since Bush took office.

09/30/2006 $8,506,973,899,215.23
09/30/2005 $7,932,709,661,723.50
09/30/2004 $7,379,052,696,330.32
09/30/2003 $6,783,231,062,743.62
09/30/2002 $6,228,235,965,597.16
09/30/2001 $5,807,463,412,200.06
09/30/2000 $5,674,178,209,886.86

In other words -- this isn't a one time event. This is the way the Republicans run the country. Poorly.

So, let's return to the CBOs estimate of $2.7 trillion that the US will spend on the war until 2017. Now, let's ask ourselves a very simple question:

WHERE IN GOD'S NAME ARE WE GOING TO GET THE MONEY TO PAY FOR IT?

We're already issuing $500 billion or more of net new debt per year for the last 5 years. That means one very important thing is not happening -- we're not balancing our budget in any way shape or form. Instead, we're spending the Social Security Trust Fund (which we're supposed to be saving) for today's expenditures. And let's remember the fiscally responsible Republican Party was completely in control for 6 of the last 7 years of fiscal history. They have absolutely no idea how to deal with nation finances.

How much more debt can we float before our creditors stop lending us money?

The Republicans want to find out.


 

Dee C (23)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 10:26 am
I have a lot of respect for the Governor of California..I think he did a great job..As for Bush..well I'm trying to remember I am a lady..but we all know what he is..
Gail..I couldn't agree with you more..
Thanks Blue..
Noted..
 

Mary H (47)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 11:34 am
Noted TY BLue
 

Linda H (199)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 12:00 pm
Noted thanks Cate this really does not surprise me at all. Too bad so many are hurt killed!
 

Roseann d (178)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 12:57 pm
Fires and Floods and Quakes ravaged the land and God said - "Dubya - Let My People GO!"
 

Lisa Swift (79)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 1:14 pm
I am not surprised at this report. Not at all. When the administration made FERMA part of Homeland Security, he emasculated it. And as long as Congress lets him run his dirty little wars, he will short infrastructure and emergency preparedness,. Unlike Mussolini, he will never make the trains run on time. He will only make more CIA renditions, and subsequent ones will be those of dissenters... American citizen dissenters... Won't someone give Hinckley a gun (and some target practice), and tell him that Jodie Foster will love him forever if he knocks off Bush and Cheney? PLEASE!!!!!!!!
 

Lisa Swift (79)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 1:14 pm
I am not surprised at this report. Not at all. When the administration made FERMA part of Homeland Security, he emasculated it. And as long as Congress lets him run his dirty little wars, he will short infrastructure and emergency preparedness,. Unlike Mussolini, he will never make the trains run on time. He will only make more CIA renditions, and subsequent ones will be those of dissenters... American citizen dissenters... Won't someone give Hinckley a gun (and some target practice), and tell him that Jodie Foster will love him forever if he knocks off Bush and Cheney? PLEASE!!!!!!!!
 

Carolyn T (234)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 1:58 pm
The stumbling block--you know who I mean--continues to be able to hang on because Cheney presides over the Senate and I am sure with all the illegal wire taps and the out-and-out corruption and "secrets" on Capitol Hill, the Puppeteer has enough dirt on everyone to keep them in line--the partisanship line. Those on whom he could only find extra-marital sex scandals and public lewdness or solicitation are letting the news be leaked to the press so they can out from under Cheny's hold on them. Until we can have Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, Ms. Rice, and a host of others removed then he will continue to scrape by with coup after coup! Pelosi needs to go right away so we can get someone up there who is unafraid to put impeachment on the table right now. She can't be adequately protected even at her home as it is and receives constant threats against herself and family members.

What a dirty, slimy mess. It makes me feel I need to shower whenever I read, hear more and more. He is not going to give California what it needs, citing the budget and the two wars we are currently waging and with the prospect of yet another looming. Better we should all live in the mud. He has already ground the Constitution, the poor, our children, our military under his heel. If we think we are unprepared to deal with emergencies such as the fires in California, how prepared do you think we really are at home to defend ourselves from enemies without and within?
 

Timothy Brown (1)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 2:01 pm
Thank you Blue for commentary & good observation Lisa. However Im not sure thats fair to Ms Foster or Hinkley for that matter. The people did hang il duce, trains nonwithstanding, so perhaps there will be justice for georgieboy, hopefully, soon.
 

Edwin Purcell (178)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 7:32 pm
This is a good one Pat. The utter ineptitude and lack of understanding is amazing.
 

MIRIAM F R (50)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 7:37 pm
Noted. Thank you, Blue !
 

Martin K (80)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 7:59 pm
Duly noted, I was closed out 3 times after reaching the article by I.Explorer. However belonging to Huffington Press I went and printed the article out.

A personal observation : Bush went to CA for PR purposes only. It was an oversight my friends not to consider Blackwater for some of the fire starts (arson). They planned on putting their new base in the San Dieago region and the people marched to stop it because of a potential fire hazard and noise pollution etc. Now those same people are homeless, according to the reports I heard on TV.

The first person that has guts enough to disband the CIA, will get not only my support but my action as well. I don't expect anyone to announce that before hand, but as long as they are in so is Bush Sr.,Cheney,Lieberman,Clinton, Wolfowitz,Pearle,Rice,Powell,and the rwest of the scum that masquerades as our House and Senate. Kissenger, Freedman, B & H Clinton, Rockefeller, Rothschild, Q.E.@nd. runs our country with Israel as the banker. My Israeli friends tell me it is worse for the Israeli people then for us at this time. The Sabbataian Zionists control there people by force. They are the ones we back and they will keep it up until the middle east is left in a shambles.
 

Meenakshi Sharma (124)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 9:47 pm
Blue you are so right! Where is that "Fi$cal re$pon$ibility?
"Give Bu$h more money for his $2.3 trillion illegal war$"

Martin I agree with your statement!! Israeli Zionist will keep on till the Middle East is totally ingulfed in war redued to ashes! Now see how Middle East Burns!!!!!
 

Denice G (45)
Thursday October 25, 2007, 11:34 pm
Thanks Blue Noted
 

Dianne G (95)
Friday October 26, 2007, 10:37 am
Shortcomings? They are a bunch of incompetent dumbasses!!
 

serge vrabec (278)
Friday October 26, 2007, 8:11 pm
Thx Blue, unfortunately theres not much that any govt can do with the wildfires that are predicted due to global warming. Unless this country finally makes some tough laws to prevent further pollution, high emisssions, etc., etc., etc.
 

John Blalock (48)
Saturday October 27, 2007, 5:46 am
It seems bush dosen`t do a thing to `Help` our country. As in this article & Education, the poor & homeless, women, anything that is construtive & good is not seen by bush & his thogs % thives!!!
 

Past Member (2031)
Saturday October 27, 2007, 10:29 am
Another failure of the Bush Administration
 

Elle J (276)
Saturday October 27, 2007, 12:14 pm
No surprise here. He cut funding to first responders by billions. Real smart GWB. In one interview he said "I am a war president". Boy was that ever right on target. All he has done is start a needless war in Iraq and to hell with the country he is suppose to represent. Nice job Bush & Company. He is more than a lame duck. Lame brain comes to mind.
 

Blue B (855)
Wednesday October 31, 2007, 4:19 pm
DO NOT EVER VOTE REPULBICAN!!!

First thing any Republican does on entering office is to cut funding of old people and children ... then they cut funding for women.

Throw them all out of government!

NOW!
 
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