Monday, March 20, 2006

Faith-based security

From the "what the f***?" department, for your (in)digestion: Executive Order: Responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security with Respect to Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. No, this is not a joke, at least not an intentional one. Some of the lowlights of this directive:
The Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) shall establish within the Department of Homeland Security (Department) a Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (Center).
The purpose of the Center shall be to coordinate agency efforts to eliminate regulatory, contracting, and other programmatic obstacles to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations in the provision of social and community services.
... coordinate a comprehensive departmental effort to incorporate faith-based and other community organizations in Department programs and initiatives to the greatest extent possible...
That's right - faith-based homeland security! Good for the entire family! If I were more cynical I'd take this as the administration finally admitting that prayer is about the only option left, in lieu of smart policies and fiscal decisions which could fund reasonable security recommendations.

3 comments:

  1. For cryin' out loud, Eric! It's for making it easier for "...faith-based and other community organizations in the provision of social and community services."

    It is a well known fact that local organizations are generally much more efficient, responsive, and in general a much better provider of social and community services than any governmental program.

    For example, look at what a crappy job (most any) governmental organization did in New Orleans (other than the Coast Guard). The "locals" are much more able to know what the needs are, and how to get things done.

    If you recall, one of the big complaints was that FEMA was moved under DHS. This puts someone in the government in charge of getting the government "out of the way" for things like the "Rosie trailers" that are still sitting outside of the FEMA camp, Renaissance Village in Baton Rouge, La.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/HurricaneKatrina/story?id=1735911&page=1

    If one reads TFA, you see that red tape is preventing the these donated trailers from being moved inside and being used.

    Hmm, "...agency efforts to eliminate regulatory, contracting, and other programmatic obstacles to the participation of faith-based and other community organizations..." sounds like a mighty good idea to me.

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  2. Jordan9:40 AM

    Well now, perhaps Eric has a point here. Perhaps what is going on is now the government, sorry, let me say that more correctly, George Bush and friends, now have a legal method to funnel tax payer dollars into religious organizations. All nicely hidden under the cover of being helpful. I wonder why 'FAITH BASED' is even needed. Why not just say community organizations? For those who think its the right thing to do, I wonder how this effort will be monitored. Do you really think a gay, yes homosexual, community center will get the same help as your local church, even if the over-all size served is identical? I am quite sure that will go over well at voting time.

    Actually, I would like to see a program where the local community would be activated in times of need. Certainly there have been prior models in the US for this. The problem I have is 'FAITH BASED'.

    The second problem I have is, as GDM points out, the government couldn't get FEMA right, but that is another story, so exactly what would lead you to believe they will get this right. They already got part of it wrong.

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  3. "It is a well known fact that local organizations are generally much more efficient, responsive, and in general a much better provider of social and community services than any governmental program." In general, you're probably generally right, in general. :-) Actually, with regard to the "faith-based initiatives" under W, what few metrics we do have indicate some areas where faith-based organizations are mildly more effective (e.g. senior care), and some areas where faith-based are slightly less effective (e.g. childcare). I'll try to dig up the links.

    The absence of measures of the effectiveness of said organizations is a barrier to making an objective comparison. But I'm generally suspicious of "well known facts." If it were true prior to the introduction of government funding, would it still be true afterward?

    Yes, government at all levels did an atrocious job in New Orleans. So what local organizations gathered resources to fix the levees prior to Katrina? Recovery/repair of any kind is one thing; prevention is entirely another, a game private enterprises (for-profit and non-profit) simply don't play in at all.

    Audits on organizations receiving approval under faith-based initiatives are absent or inconsistent; I'll try to dig up some of the links I've come across.

    The accounting around such organizations is held to a much lower level of scrutiny than any specifically governmental program, and if we can't get the accounting right in Iraq with a handful of private contractors, can we get this right with many more? And if not, is it just another dump of government funds into selected private organizations?

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