Hurricane Katrina was the costliest and deadliest hurricane in American history. All told, Katrina caused $108 billion in damage and precipitated 1,833 confirmed fatalities. The catastrophic effects of this storm, and its fall-out across the Gulf, were at a scale unknown to the existing federal, state, and local disaster response infrastructure.
Immediately, the high volume acquisition and transport of vital commodities to hurricane-affected areas became the priority of decision-makers. In response to the growing crises, a rapid and coordinated response was required from a constellation of federal departments and component agencies. As the government’s principle disaster response agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as FEMA, worked through its Agency Offices throughout the United States to organize and execute diverse contracts in an attempt to streamline the disaster response. FEMA leveraged its existing contract infrastructure designed to rapidly deliver supplies and services to storm-affected areas and support regions.
Small business vendors stationed within close proximity of Katrina-affected areas, suggesting that the agility of small businesses concentrated within near range of disaster events can support quick-reaction projects to support response initiatives.
Large businesses, mainly form the Capital Beltway, Colorado, and California, provided technical and engineering support services, spotlighting how corporations from distanced regions can still be utilized to streamline sustained response and relief efforts.
It is worth noting that, while this investigation demonstrates the power of assessing meaningful trends of Katrina-related contracts in only one week with limited open source data, an investigation with the full data set possessed by FEMA and other emergency support function stakeholders that has been compiled over the last six years could yield countless opportunities to enhance effectiveness in the decision-making process, streamline inefficiencies, and identify weak links. In other words, help program managers and decision makers build a more efficient program across the enterprise in real-time.