Location:
GOVERNMENT, STATE - REORGANIZATION; PUBLIC SAFETY, CT DEPT. OF; TERRORISM;
Scope:
Connecticut laws/regulations; Background;

OLR Research Report


February 22, 2011

 

2011-R-0117

MERGER OF DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND HOMELAND SECURITY (DEMHS) AND DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY (DPS)

By: Veronica Rose, Chief Analyst

Duke Chen, Legislative Analyst II

You asked us to (1) provide brief background information on DEMHS and DPS and (2) prepare questions on the proposed merger of the two agencies (see SB 1017).

BACKGROUND

Since 2005, DEMHS has been the state's designated emergency management and homeland security agency. It is responsible for providing a coordinated, integrated program for statewide emergency management and homeland security.

Before 2005, emergency management functions were performed by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), which was in the DPS' Division of Fire, Emergency and Building Services. In 1999, the legislature transferred OEM to the Military Department (PA 99-190). PA 04-219, which took effect January 1, 2005, eliminated OEM and established DEMHS, placing the agency within the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) for administrative purposes only. In 2005, PA 05-287 removed the agency from within OPM. The agency's stated mission is to:

direct and coordinate all available resources to protect the life and property of the citizens of Connecticut in the event of a disaster or crisis, through a collaborative program of prevention, planning, preparedness, response, recovery, and public education.

DPS' stated mission is to:

protect and improve the quality of life for all by providing enforcement, regulatory and scientific services through prevention, education and innovative use of technology.

The agency's jurisdiction is broad. It includes the State Police, firearms, fireworks, amusement parks, building and fire codes, Statewide Emergency Telecommunications, security guards and private detectives, blasting and demolition, and boxing and wrestling.

SB 1017, AN ACT CONCERNING THE CONSOLIDATION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND HOMELAND SECURITY AND THE BOARD OF FIREARMS PERMIT EXAMINERS INTO THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY, AND TRANSFERRING RESPONSIBILITY FOR AMUSEMENT PARK OVERSIGHT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER PROTECTION.

This bill eliminates DEMHS and transfers its functions and responsibilities to DPS. It creates a Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security in DPS to manage homeland security ( 23).

It increases, from 70% to 100%, the amount towns must pay resident troopers for overtime and fringe benefits directly associated with the cost of trooper services. Towns continue to pay 70% of regular costs ( 35).

The bill puts the Board of Firearm Permit Examiners in DPS for all purposes, instead of for administrative purposes only. The board hears appeals of gun permit decisions ( 36).

The bill transfers responsibility for regulating amusement parks from DPS to the Department of Consumer Protection ( 37 et seq.). The bill takes effect July 1, 2011.

QUESTIONS ON THE BILL

Rationale for Merger

1. What was the rationale for transferring OEM from DPS to the Military Department?

2. What was the primary reason for establishing DEMHS? What problem, issue, or goal was DEMHS meant to address? Has the problem, issue, or goal changed? If so, how, and how will the merger address the changes?

3. How do the goals of DPS and DEMHS align?

Budgetary and Funding Issues

1. What are some of the costs involved in implementing the merger? What are the expected savings and in what areas?

2. What accounts for the larger expenditure in DEMHS' budget: homeland security operations or emergency management activities?

3. How much federal funding did DEMHS get in the last fiscal year? How will the merger affect homeland security and related federal grants to the state?

4. How does state and federal funding to DEMHS compare with funding provided to homeland security and emergency agencies in other states?

Administrative and Personnel Issues

1. How many people does DEMHS employ? What impact will the merger have on DEMHS personnel? Is there any personnel reduction anticipated? If yes, in what areas?

2. How many people does DPS employ? What impact will the merger have on DPS personnel?

3. How will information on the merger be communicated to staff? How will employee issues be addressed?

4. When will the new DPS commissioner take office?

5. Are the employees of both agencies in the same bargaining unit?

Process

1. What is the timetable for completing the merger? How will it work? What administrative and personnel issues need to be resolved and how long will it take to resolve them?

2. Are there any plans to change DPS' name to reflect its broader mission?

3. What will happen to the building on Sigourney Street that serves as DEMHS' headquarters?

Operational Issues and Organizational Impact

1. In what ways, if any, will DPS' goals, practices, and strategies differ from DEMHS'?

2. How will the merger affect emergency management and homeland security services? What services, if any, are currently being duplicated? What services, if any, are likely to be decreased or cut? What services are likely to be enhanced? What service interruptions are likely?

3. How will the new functions and responsibilities affect DPS' operations?

Organizational Models

1. The model for delivering homeland security and emergency management services varies from state to state. What are some of the other organizational models? How do they compare with Connecticut's model? What model works best and why? To what extent, if any, is federal funding tied to a particular model?

2. Do you believe some homeland security functions are best performed by a standalone agency such as DEMHS? If yes, please describe some of these.

3. What are the most compelling arguments for (a) maintaining a standalone agency and (b) merging the two agencies?

Intergovernmental Relations

1. How will the merger affect inter-agency, local, and federal work relationships?

2. The Kleen Energy power plant blast illustrated the tension that arises when several agencies with seemingly overlapping jurisdictions have to work together.  What were DEMHS' and DPS' roles in the aftermath of the explosion? How will the merger improve the level of communication and avoid unnecessary duplication or confusion in response to a catastrophic event?

3. The nature of homeland security and emergency management operations requires DEMHS to work with many different federal, state, and local agencies. In what areas do you believe the agency has been most effective in leading state preparedness efforts? Has it been more effective at the federal, state, or local level?

4. How does DEMHS' relationship with towns compare with the relationship OEM had with towns when the office was within DPS?

Performance Issues

1. Some argue that DPS' jurisdiction is too broad. How will the new functions and responsibilities affect DPS' operations? What functions currently being performed by DPS would be best assigned to another agency?

2. What do you believe will be DPS' greatest challenges in effectively preparing for and responding to catastrophic disasters or terrorist attacks?

3. How can DPS contribute to meeting the governor's budget goals without jeopardizing public safety?

Other

1. To what extent is terrorism a threat in Connecticut?

2. What are Connecticut's security needs and goals? How prepared is the state to deal with a terrorist attack or a major disaster, such as a Category 4 hurricane? How prepared is it to deal with cyber-terrorism?

3. To what extent should public safety answering points (PSAPs) be regionalized?

4. Related agencies often have distinct priorities and agendas that inhibit their working well together. To what extent has this been an issue for DPS and DEMHS?

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