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Kansas Emergency Management – A Broken Formula

June 10, 2012

The State of Kansas receives an annual distribution of federal funds of which they keep some for themselves and pass down some to the Counties. Being new to the emergency management game I was curious how this worked. It took a lot of asking and finally a special request letter to get this information. Here’s what I found.

The State of Kansas received $4,258,803 in federal emergency management dollars this past year. Of those dollars they kept $2,647,244 for themselves and passed down $1,611,559 to the Counties. In my request I didn’t ask for the formula used to decide how much gets passed down, or the formula used to decide what each county gets. I wish I had because once you look at the distribution (as I did) you’ll see what I saw – it’s a broken formula.

I highlighted some of the distributions that just don’t make sense. How is it that Russell and Ellsworth have nearly identical populations, yet one receives $22,845 and the other $6,486? There are others that I have highlighted for your perusal.

Another puzzling fact was only 72 of the 105 counties received funds. I’m sure the reason is 33 didn’t request funds. But why?

Now, I know what the State might say – “We just plug in the data that you provide.” Yet, why aren’t we privy to the formula? And why doesn’t the State annually distribute the information I had to acquire through special request?

Again, I’m a new player in emergency management. I don’t possess the experience to say how the formula should be designed, but I know there are emergency management directors that are.

And, maybe we could check into how other states do it – as well as what percentage they keep for themselves. Sixty-two percent for the State seems like another broken formula.

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