FEMA Director Michael Brown
Under criticism for alleged management failures and resume discrepancies, Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown has been relieved of his role as head of the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Brown will return to Washington and be replaced by Coast Guard Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen, who was overseeing relief and rescue efforts in New Orleans.
At a news conference in Baton Rouge, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Brown was replaced by Allen because the agency wants a seamless interaction with military forces.
“Mike Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate the reponse to this unprecedented challenge,” Chertoff said. “I appreciate his work, as does everybody here.”
In an unscientific Internet poll by MSNBC.com prior to the announcement, 87 percent of 45,828 respondents said Brown be fired.
The news came as a Time magazine investigation revealed Brown, nominated by President Bush in 2003 to take over FEMA from Joe Allbaugh, never was an actual manager of emergency services in Edmond, Okla., contrary to a resume posted on the FEMA website.
Also, the magazine found, Brown’s academic credentials contain some discrepancies.
Brown’s lack of disaster-response experience has become an issue amid criticism of the federal response to the hurricane’s destruction. And, as WorldNetDaily reported, he was fired from his last private-sector job overseeing horse shows.
But the Bush administration continued to support Brown today as President Bush did on his first visit to the scene of Hurricane Katrina, ABC News reported.
“And Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job. The FEMA director’s been working 24 hours,” Bush said Sept. 5 as the crowd burst into applause.
The president, though, noted shortly after the storm ravaged New Orleans he was “not satisfied” with the government’s response.
Time’s investigation found that Brown’s online work history, among varied experience in academics and law, lists a “background in state and local government” which “also includes serving as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight … .”
But Edmond officials disputed that, saying he was an assistant to the manager, not a manager himself.
“The assistant is more like an intern,” said Claudia Deakins, head of public relations for the city of Edmond.
And as such, he had no authority over employees, the report said.
Furthermore, although Brown’s attorney profile at Findlaw.com says he received an award for “Outstanding Political Science Professor, Central State University,” school officials said that’s not quite right.
Charles Johnson, news bureau director in the University Relations office at the University of Central Oklahoma – formerly named Central State University – said Brown “wasn’t a professor here, he was only a student here.”
“He may have been an adjunct instructor,” Johnson said, but that’s not the same as “professor.”
As to his award, “I spoke with the department chair yesterday, and he’s not aware of it,” Johnson told Time.
And Carl Reherman, a political science professor at the college in the ’70s and ’80s, told the magazine Brown “was not on the faculty.”
Nicol Andrews, deputy strategic director in FEMA’s office of public affairs, defends her boss. She told Time that while Brown may have begun his career at Edmond as an intern, he worked his way up to become an “assistant city manager.”
She also said Brown’s profile at Findlaw.com is inaccurate because he has never said he was a political science professor.
“He was named the outstanding political science senior at Central State and was an adjunct professor at Oklahoma City School of Law,” she told the magazine.
At the time of Brown’s nomination, then-director Allbaugh – a former college roommate – declared, “The president couldn’t have chosen a better man to help … prepare and protect the nation.”
And other FEMA spokesmen have added that Brown was deputy director of the agency before being promoted to its top post.