Holds First Hearing as Chairman of Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia

Contact: Heather Handyside, Press Secretary
(907) 258-9304 office
(907) 350-4846 cell

The importance of engaging local businesses and other private-sector organizations to save taxpayer dollars after disasters and improve emergency response capabilities during disasters was the subject of a hearing yesterday convened by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations and the District of Columbia.

“With limited federal and state budgets, the private sector is critical to disaster preparedness,” said Begich. “As a former mayor of a city at risk from wildfires, earthquakes and extreme weather, I know first-hand there are ways we can form public-private partnerships in our community to make sure that we are better prepared for disasters.”

Begich discussed with Beth Zimmerman, FEMA Deputy Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, the steps FEMA is taking to monitor government waste or potential improper payments to ensure that funds are being used efficiently and are getting to the individuals that need them the most.

“Yesterday’s discussion was productive in identifying ways that government can operate more efficiently and better respond and rebuild following a disaster. I look forward to learning more about FEMA’s monitoring mechanisms to ensure we cut down on government waste.”

A series of devastating disasters across the United States in the last few years including Hurricane Sandy, the Joplin Tornados, and Hurricane Katrina, have underscored the need for better coordination and improved information sharing between FEMA, federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations and private-sector businesses.

The hearing convened public and private-sector witnesses to more closely examine ways that businesses are acting as innovators to develop products and services that can support more disaster resilient communities and how the public sector can better utilize these services.