Trump's FEMA administrator appointment: The pick he got correct

Date01 May 2018
Published date01 May 2018
AuthorMatthew A. Malone
Trump's FEMA administrator appointment: The pick he got
Matthew A. Malone
Lander University, Greenwood, South
Carolina, USA
Matthew A. Malone, Lander University,
Greenwood, South Carolina 29649, USA.
Donald Trump has made many controversial appointments since taking the office of
President of the United States of America. Many of his appointees have had little to no
experience in their substantive area. Some even argue that many of his appointees received
their jobs from patronage. One glaring exception is Brock Long's appointment as Director of
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Long served as the Director of the
Alabama Emergency Agency, the state level equivalent of FEMA. Given that he is an
experience public servant, Long may prove to be of the better appointments made by Pres-
ident Trump.
It is no secret that many of Donald Trump's political appointees have
been met with resistance. Steven Bannon was appointed to serve as
Trump's White House Chief Strategist, a position President Trump cre-
ated within the Executive Office of the President. This allowed Bannon
to avoid a Senate approval vote that would have been very difficult
given the extreme rhetoric used in Bretibart News, an altright news
outlet Bannon chaired. This, however, did not put Bannon in a role that
was foreign to him. He had no agency to manage, nor were their prece-
dents in place on what qualified one to be White House Chief Strategist.
Betsy DeVos was chosen to be the Secretary of Education despite
having no experience as an educator or even attending public school.
Yet she was confirmed by the Senate, in a 5150 vote, to her position.
Scott Pruitt, an outspoken denier of human involvement in climate
change, was appointed to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Despite these, and numerous other, controversial choices, President
Trump did make an appointment that received very little resistance.
Brock Long has had a long career in public service, specifically in
emergency management. He has a Masters in Public Administration
from Appalachian State University, giving him a strong theoretical
foundation in Public Administration. Long worked at the Georgia
Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) for slightly more than
two years. From GEMA, he moved onto to the Federal Emergency
Management Agency working in Hurricane Program Management for
over four years. He briefly left public sector emergency management
to work for a private disaster recovery company, but that position
was short lived. He returned to public service a year later as the
Director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA).
While in this position, Long was at the helm for numerous storm
related events and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. With an extensive
resume in public sector emergency management, Long has the
knowledge to lead FEMA. He was given that opportunity when Presi-
dent Trump tapped Long to be the Director of FEMA. He was easily
confirmed by the Senate in a 954 vote.
Since its inception in 1979, FEMA has had ten fulltime directors,
including Long, and eleven acting directors. Of the full directors, three
of the ten previously served as directors of a state emergency
management agency. Interestingly, the previous two were appointed
by Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama. Unlike Trump's other
appointments, Long as Director of FEMA does not seem to be one of
patronage. Long has the experience of leading an executive level
agency at the state level, and now, he will lead an executive agency
at the federal level in the same field. Like previous Directors Witt
and Fugate, Long is fit for the position. He has immediately been given
Hurricanes Harvey and Irma manage, so there has been no period of
rest for Long. It will be interesting to see over the next number of
months and years how effective he is at running FEMA. There is also
an interesting study to be done in the future comparing the former
state level directors who went on to be Director of FEMA to those for-
mer directors who did not have the same experiences. The field of
Public Administration can only serve to benefit from public servants
who succeed at multiple levels of government, especially when they
receive the honor of being the top level executive in a federal agency.
Brock Long is in a unique circumstance amongst other Trump appoin-
tees, and he has the ability to serve as an example of the value of
public administration experience in the success or failure of an
Matthew A. Malone
Received: 28 September 2017 Accepted: 21 November 2017
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1692
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1692.
Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, 1of2

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