A post-spill analysis concludes that our current morass of government agencies and bureaucrats impedes the very goals these agencies were established to achieve. In short, our government is too big to succeed—an axiom validated by the recent disaster off the Gulf Coast.
A mish-mash of overlapping agencies advised and run by federal experts resulted in the absence of a clear chain of command with which local authorities could cooperate. That this should happen at a time of national crisis, environmental or otherwise, is worrying. As recently reported by The Hill, certain gulf communities were left out of the loop during clean-up efforts, preventing them from protecting vulnerable marshlands. According to Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish on the Louisiana coast, “this late in the game, I still can’t tell you who is in charge.”
Nor has the confusion been limited to local leaders. Even the vast effort by BP to curtail the spill’s effects was at times stymied by having no streamlined method of communication. One incident in late May featured a flotilla of boom-laying ships attempting to protect Barataria Bay from incoming oil. They anchored, however, on the wrong side of the bay. Although BP officials were desperate to inform workers of the error, there was no way to get in touch with them, all for lack of an efficient federal response.
Calls aren’t being answered, plans aren’t being executed, and the consensus in the Gulf States is that the feds are the source of the problem. According to Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), “The information is not flowing. The decisions are not timely. The resources are not produced. And as a result, you have a big mess, with no command and control.” Commissioners in Oskaloosa County became so frustrated with the situation that they granted response teams emergency powers: “We made the decision legislatively to break the laws if necessary,” said Chairman Wayne Harris.
No one questions the Federal government’s commitment to serving American citizens and protecting their home ground. But as redundant intelligence agencies, a convoluted tax code, bloated federal payrolls, and now the recent oil spill have shown, bigger isn’t better in Washington.