Controlling disasters: Local emergency management perceptions about Federal Emergency Management and Homeland Security actions after September 11, 2001


  • Sean Hildebrand, PhD



federalism, emergency management, homeland security, implementation, public policy, public administration, comprehensive emergency management


This article examines local emergency manager's beliefs regarding control over tasks during various stages of the hazard cycle since federal policies went into effect following the September 11 attacks. The study considers whether a disparity exists between the actions of local officials during each phase of the “hazard cycle” and the policy expectations of the federal government, which call for greater federal control over activities in emergency management and homeland security. To do so, hypothesis testing investigates the jurisdiction's use of comprehensive emergency management (CEM) practices, the perceived “clarity” of the federal policy demands, and if the local actors feel coerced to comply with federal policy demands so that grant funding is not compromised. Using a model developed from “third-generation” policy implementation research, the results show that the odds of local officials citing federal control over these actions have very limited statistical significance. This signals that the perceived lack of local input into the development of these federal policies and the policies’ limited use of traditional CEM measures may not be in concert with what local actors perform in the field. Simply put, the respondents claim to understand the federal policy demands, support the concept of federal control as the policies describe, yet follow their own plans or traditional CEM principles, even if such actions do not support the federal policy demands. These results align with pre-existing research in the emergency management field that show issues with efforts to centralize policies under the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Author Biography

Sean Hildebrand, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana


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How to Cite

Hildebrand, PhD, S. “Controlling Disasters: Local Emergency Management Perceptions about Federal Emergency Management and Homeland Security Actions After September 11, 2001”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 15, no. 5, Sept. 2017, pp. 291-09, doi:10.5055/jem.2017.0338.