When disaster strikes a community, governments often face the task of deciding what recovery work could and should be allocated to the private sector. In a new book published by CRC Press, University of New Orleans political science professor John Kiefer and adjunct professor Alessandra Jerolleman share insight into when privatization works and when it may be ill-advised.
“The Private Sector’s Role in Disasters: Leveraging the Private Sector in Emergency Management” draws on the expertise within UNO’s Department of Political Science Master of Public Administration program and its Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART). The 342-page book explores the areas in which government regulations and guidelines promote or encourage private sector involvement and seeks to give readers best practices for such partnerships.
“UNO has some really good disaster experts,” said Kiefer, who is the director of UNO’s master of public administration program. “We’ve learned. We’re in a disaster zone. We’re sharing these lessons—lessons we learned the hard way—with the rest of the world.”
Contributors to the book also include eight UNO students who were in the process of getting their master’s degrees in public administration at the time the book was being constructed. Kimberly VanWagner, Jeremiah Jones, Melissa Wilkins, Race Hodges, Jacqueline Brubaker, Lawrence Mason III, Sabrina Freeman and Sarah Wild received independent study credit for their work researching and writing chapters over the course of a year.
Other contributors were: Tara Lambeth, a research associate with UNO-CHART; Monica Farris, director of UNO-CHART; Susan Lenore Garner, a research associate with UNO-CHART; and Maggie Louise Oliver, mitigation director for Jefferson Parish.
“Don’t just think that privatization of a government service is an answer to everything,” said Kiefer. It can work well for communities that lack the expertise or experience in mitigation, for example, he said. But there are cases in which it can become more complicated and costly than it should.
This is the second book about emergency management that Kiefer and Jerolleman have worked on together. The first, “Natural Hazard Mitigation,” was published by CRC Press in 2012.
Kiefer said the latest book is geared toward those working in government agencies and emergency management; it is expected to be used in university classrooms, including those at UNO. It is available on Amazon.com, CRC Press, as well as in UNO’s campus bookstore.