Lawmakers: DHS has a coordination problem

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies need to take steps to close gaps in the federal government's preparedness for unexpected catastrophes, a bipartisan group of senators said Friday. 

The senators released a study from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found the government needed to be doing more to coordinate and oversee efforts to prepare for events like terrorist attacks and natural disasters. 

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“This report makes it clear that federal agencies need to do a better job of coordinating and sharing information with each other and providing that information to the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrat asks for probe of EPA's use of politically appointed lawyers Overnight Energy: Study links coronavirus mortality to air pollution exposure | Low-income, minority households pay more for utilities: report OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push resolution to battle climate change, sluggish economy and racial injustice | Senators reach compromise on greenhouse gas amendment stalling energy bill | Trump courts Florida voters with offshore drilling moratorium MORE (D-Del.), chairman of  the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said in a statement. 

The report says that though individuals departments are preparing for a “no-notice catastrophic disasters," the DHS is not properly overseeing them or working to close gaps in their preparedness plans. 

The GAO recommended that the DHS set clearer expectations for other agencies that respond to disasters. It also said that the department should “regularly report” on corrective actions being taken as a result of information gained from real-world disasters or practice exercises. 

Finally, the study said that Homeland Security should better oversee efforts to improve the potential response to an improvised nuclear device. 

The department has said that it will implement the recommendations, according to the GAO. 

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that he would work to ensure that the recommendations were implemented. 

“More than thirteen years after the terrorist attack on 9/11, this is unacceptable,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the Secretary and FEMA Administrator to address GAO's recommendations, including through my committee's efforts to authorize the Department of Homeland Security next year.”

Other lawmakers calling for the implementation of the recommendations include Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden asks if public can trust vaccine from Trump ahead of Election Day | Oklahoma health officials raised red flags before Trump rally Gideon leads Collins by 12 points in Maine Senate race: poll Senate leaders quash talk of rank-and-file COVID-19 deal MORE (R-Maine) and outgoing Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska group backing independent candidate appears linked to Democrats Sullivan wins Alaska Senate GOP primary Alaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place MORE (D-Alaska).