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How Important is Transparency in Emergency Management?

In the article, FEMA Had a Plan for Responding to a Hurricane in Puerto Rico — But It Doesn’t Want You to See It [1] by Justin Elliott and Decca Muldowney, they lay out some of the issues associated with the lack of transparency in emergency response.

When you are transparent, people know what is happening and why. It seems to me that this sort of approach would be so much more effective. According to Ken Lin, the founder of Credit Karma, “In transparent organizations, everyone is a part of the greater team and not locked off in a room no one can access. People end up feeling part of something, instead of a cog in a machine.” [2]

You can never go wrong with transparency. Its value is multilayered. First, it keeps the conspiracy theorists off your back allowing you to work. When you remove the feeling that people only need to know the information directly relating to them and their “silo”, you reduce division within the organization.

The second value might not seem like a value at first, but it really is; it opens up your plan for critique. We in the emergency management field should not be so naive to think we have got it completely figured out. I have heard it said, "Many hands make light work." As an emergency manager, I would add that many minds makes a good plan. The lessons we learn from our mistakes teaches us much more than our successes.



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