More on disaster warnings

Federal employees learn about Federal snow days from the radio; the official notification arrives through channels the next day.

Today’s newspapers continue the discussion of why there was no official tsunami warning network in place for the Indian Ocean, and how to set one up now. None mentions the option of relying on the mass media (plus secondary spread via telephone and word of mouth). Strange, don’t you think?

A long-service Federal worker points out that even where official systems are in place, the informal ones often work better.

When OPM* declares a weather emergency and sends DC bureaucrats home; it tells the Cabinet agencies which tell the Operating Divisions which tell the Centers which tell the Branches which tell the Sections, etc. Being in the sticks, we get the official word the next day. We’re all long gone, having heard that the government is closing from the radio.

* “OPM” is the Office of Personnel Management, the Federal government’s despised human resources department, also known as the Office of Personnel Mismanagement.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com