Daniel Kaniewski’s print interviews
Daniel Kaniewski is frequently quoted in major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.
Politico Magazine, “Experts Knew a Pandemic Was Coming. Here’s What They’re Worried About Next.” May 7, 2020.
Daniel Kaniewski, a managing director at Marsh & McLennan who until February served as the No. 2 at FEMA, recalls visiting one major state emergency operations center and discovering that officials there refused to even simulate a quake of that strength; they’d determined that the local devastation would be so great that emergency planners would have no adequate response, even in a tabletop exercise. “Just the exercise alone could so tax the system that there wouldn’t be valuable lessons learned,” he recalls. “That earthquake is one that we as a nation are very vulnerable to.”
ABC News, “Governors were warned of a pandemic years ago, told to stockpile. Why didn’t they do more?” April 29, 2020.
But the federal government doesn’t deserve total blame for what has unfolded, according to Daniel Kaniewski, who until January served as a deputy administer at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). By law, the federal government is just a back-up system to states, so “the reality is that all levels of government need to be prepared for something like this,” he said. So, facing other more likely natural disasters, governors “have to hedge their bets,” according to Kaniewski.
NPR, “FEMA Chief Gaynor Faces A New Challenge: Coronavirus Response” April 15, 2020.
Daniel Kaniewski served as Gaynor’s deputy at FEMA. He says the agency is “lucky to have a leader like Pete leading the agency during these trying times.” Kaniewski says Gaynor, as a former state and local emergency management director, “understands the challenges facing those communities that are impacted by coronavirus right now.”
“He’s able to work alongside many of these senior officials, and that speaks well to his leadership style,” Kaniewski says. “He’s not looking for credit. He’s looking to accomplish the mission.”
Politico Pulse, “Trump inches toward open war with his health department” April 13, 2020.
Officials and experts have been trying to reinforce to employers that a successful Covid-19 response relies on their investments. “Everyone has a role to play,” writes Daniel Kaniewski, who was a top FEMA official before leaving earlier this year, calling on the private-sector to stay committed with other sectors in a whole-of-community response. “All of these efforts will pay off by a new corporate measure—dividends of lives saved.
The Hill (op-ed), “A ‘Whole of America’ response” April 12, 2020.
“Americans look to the government for help in their time of need. But the scale of the coronavirus pandemic demands more than what government alone can deliver. Everyone has a role to play.”
The Washington Post, “At White House coronavirus briefings, rescue efforts are extensive but often aspirational” April 9, 2020.
“Now that FEMA has been asked to assist, the agency has made progress in procuring these additional items on behalf of the federal government for provision to the states,” said Daniel Kaniewski, who stepped down as the agency’s deputy administrator earlier this year. “Of course that took some time, but given the challenges FEMA faced right out of the gate, this is real progress.”
The Hill, “FEMA finds itself in uncharted waters with coronavirus” April 8, 2020.
“As challenging as it is for FEMA and the entire federal government, my view is it would be even more challenging if FEMA were not involved,” said Daniel Kaniewski, the former deputy administrator for resilience at the agency.
“I think the federal government has finally hit its stride as far as their role in supporting state and local government,” added Kaniewski, who now works at Marsh & McLennan.
“This is a huge challenge. And for FEMA or the federal government to just take over the private sector supply chain would be a very daunting challenge,” says Daniel Kaniewski, who until February was FEMA’s deputy administrator. “I think the challenge is for the administration to decide what is the most effective way to deploy these resources. And right now, it seems that they’re still trying to get their arms around this.”
Kaniewski says the agency is not a first responder and was never meant to play that role and neither is it a national strategic stockpile of medical supplies. Instead, he says, it’s meant to play a “stopgap” role in national emergencies.
“In other words, it was meant to be put in place for the immediate response until the supply chains could catch up and meet the overall demand,” he says.
The New York Times, “FEMA, Racing to Provide Virus Relief, Is Running Short on Front-Line Staff” April 3, 2020.
“No doubt that this presents a challenge to FEMA,” said Daniel Kaniewski, who until January was the agency’s deputy administrator for resilience. “Normally, this is when FEMA would be focused on hurricane readiness.”
“FEMA has never faced a 50-state disaster before,” Mr. Kaniewski added.
The agency has already pulled people back from other disaster-recovery operations, said Mr. Kaniewski, who is now a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Companies, an insurance and risk management group. He said those other disasters could act as “a reservoir” for FEMA to draw staff from, provided they had the right training.
The Washington Post, “These ‘mission critical’ federal employees and contractors are still reporting to the office. They’re terrified they’ll get sick.” March 27, 2020.
“Defining what is truly ‘mission critical’ is a challenge for the agencies,” said Daniel Kaniewski, who stepped down in February as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s second-in-command. “Where do you draw the line?”
ABC News, “FEMA Chief prepared for COVID-19 challenge, former colleagues say” March 25, 2020.
“Pete has the respect of state and local emergency managers, because he was one of them. And, that mutual respect and those relationships are going to prove critical during the coronavirus response,” Daniel Kaniewski a former Acting Deputy Administrator at FEMA told ABC News.
“I think what he brings uniquely to this role is that understanding of what it’s going to take to for state and local governments to successfully respond to this disaster and what he and FEMA and the federal government can do to best support that response,” Kaniewski added.
The Washington Post, “Coronavirus could be FEMA’s biggest disaster ever, and it threatens to swamp the agency” March 24, 2020.
“FEMA is in the best position to coordinate the government’s response and to meet the demands of this disaster, but it will require a strong and perhaps unprecedented partnership with all levels of government and the private sector,” said Daniel Kaniewski, who stepped down earlier this year as FEMA’s second-in-command.
“A disaster on this scale will challenge any federal agency or organization,” Kaniewski said. “But if not FEMA, then who?”
The Wall Street Journal, “Understaffed FEMA Faces Steep Challenge Leading U.S. Coronavirus Fight” March 21, 2020.
Daniel Kaniewski, FEMA’s deputy administrator until earlier this year, said the agency is a natural for a situation like the current one, despite its relative inexperience with pandemics, noting that it already possesses the capabilities and infrastructure to manage various kinds of calamities.
“With a disaster of this magnitude, it was inevitable that FEMA would play a lead role,” he said.
Bloomberg Law, “FEMA Takes Over Coordinating Role in Federal Coronavirus Response” March 19, 2020.
“With a disaster of this magnitude, it was inevitable that FEMA would play a lead role,” said Daniel Kaniewski, managing director, public sector, at Marsh & McLennan Advantage, a risk management consulting firm. Prior to joining the firm in March, Kaniewski was FEMA’s deputy administrator for resilience, the agency’s second-ranking official.
The overall response by the federal government is much more complex than just the health and medical response and involves many other departments and agencies. It might include building field hospitals or retrofitting buildings, for example. The president’s declaration of a national emergency gives FEMA the resources and authority to assign departments and agencies across government to do those tasks.
“FEMA’s the federal government’s one-stop shop for disaster response,” Kaniewski said.
NPR, “Known For Disaster Aid, FEMA Prepares For New Challenge With Coronavirus Relief” March 19, 2020.
And while the Department of Health and Human Services remains the lead agency in the government’s response to the coronavirus, Daniel Kaniewski, the former number two official at FEMA, says that Wednesday’s announcement “shifts the operational center of gravity from HHS to FEMA,” since he says, “the departments and agencies will send staff to FEMA to coordinate operations.”
The Washington Post, “Trump invokes rare powers to combat coronavirus outbreak he previously downplayed, calling it ‘war’” March 19, 2020.
The Trump administration to date has used FEMA mostly in a secondary role, with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control taking the lead among federal agencies.
“This starts to shift the operational center of gravity from HHS to FEMA,” said Dan Kaniewski, who stepped down in January as the agency’s second-in-command.
The White House Task Force will continue to run the government response, but FEMA is the best-qualified to coordinate among federal agencies, deploy resources and respond to state requests for assistance, while allowing HHS and the CDC to continue to take the lead on the medical emergency response, Kaniewski added.
“FEMA is the quarterback for the federal response to disasters,” he said. “This is a disaster, and it needs to be coordinated.”
The Washington Post, “White House instructs federal agencies to pare down to ‘mission-critical’ services to contain coronavirus spread” March 18, 2020.
The memo was the strongest direction yet to federal leaders to put themselves on an emergency footing to fight the coronavirus. But it did not order agencies to trigger what are known as “continuity of operations” plans, the most extreme emergency planning tool at their disposal to scale back to essential services.
Under those plans, as many employees as possible would work from home, but government services would be substantially pared down, similar to a shutdown. Thousands of employees would not be working, emergency management experts said, although they would be paid. The White House has told agencies to prepare for this scenario.
Still, “this is an indication that the administration understands it’s not going to be business as usual going forward,” said Daniel Kaniewski, who served until February as the Trump administration’s second-in-command at the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is now a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Companies, a risk management and consulting firm.
“Right now agencies have the luxury of having all their staff available, but this could change if the situation worsens,” Kaniewski said.
Federal workers want to be able to telework during the coronavirus pandemic. While the Trump administration says it’s encouraging it, in practice it’s not so clear federal agencies are.
The New York Times, “Trump Slowly Enlisting More Agencies in ‘Whole of Government’ Response to Virus” March 17, 2020.
Part of the challenge is the unusual role Mr. Trump has assigned to FEMA, which traditionally is designated as the lead federal agency during major disasters to take requests from individual states and then assign other federal players to deliver on the pleas for help. In this case, Mr. Trump has left the Department of Health and Human Services in charge.
“FEMA is the only agency that has the full breadth of the federal government at its disposal,” said Daniel J. Kaniewski, who in January left FEMA, after serving since the start of the Trump administration as one of the agency’s top officials.
E&E News, Coronavirus a ‘significant challenge’ to disaster agency March 16, 2020.
“Given the evolving nature of this pandemic, this could present a significant challenge to FEMA,” Daniel Kaniewski, the agency’s deputy director from September 2017 to January 2020, said yesterday in an interview.
Kaniewski, the former FEMA deputy administrator, said if Trump declares a state a “major disaster” area, “there could be hundreds or thousands of FEMA staff in the state, supporting that state’s needs. They could be there for a long time.”
FEMA’s ultimate response to the coronavirus “will depend on how big the resources requirement is from the states,” said Kaniewski, who is now a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Cos., a professional services firm that offers risk management.
The Washington Post, “Most federal workers will report to the office Monday — as the rest of the country isolates itself”March 15, 2020.
Asking employees to work like this has never been done before,” said Daniel Kaniewski, who until February was the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s second-ranking official. “Can you do the functions of government at home on this scope and for an extended duration?”
CNN “Here’s what Trump’s coronavirus emergency declaration does” March 13, 2020.
“It’s possible that a) the states have the resources it needs b) that the state has most of the resources it needs and the resources it doesn’t have it’s getting from HHS and the $8.3 billion,” said Daniel Kaniewski, who previously served as deputy administrator for resilience at FEMA.
“I think in the future if those — and that future can be today or a week from now or it could be never — if they require supplemental assistance beyond what they’re getting from HHS, there would be an obvious time to submit an emergency declaration request,” Kaniewski, who’s now a managing director at Marsh & McLennan Companies, said.
Politico (op-ed), “Coronavirus is a disaster. Why hasn’t FEMA been brought in?” March 10, 2020.
With every passing day, it’s becoming clear that the coronavirus epidemic is not just a health emergency but instead has the potential to become a major disaster. And that means it might be time to turn to the nation’s disaster response agency to assist.
The New York Times, “Even as Floods Worsen With Climate Change, Fewer People Insure Against Disaster” June 8, 2019.
“Flood insurance is the best recovery tool that individuals can have,” said Daniel Kaniewski, deputy administrator for resilience at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “It’s so important that the American public understand this.”
Dr. Kaniewski, the FEMA official, said insurance costs could rise more slowly if state and local officials, which have authority over building codes and land-use management, imposed greater rules on how and where people construct homes.
In the meantime, he expressed hope that what has happened in the Midwest will spur more people to buy insurance. “There are many wake-up calls occurring across the central U.S. right now,” Mr. Kaniewski said
Yahoo Finance, “AIR Worldwide Announces New Global Resilience Practice” July 18, 2016.
The New York Times, “Democratic and Republican Conventions Could Hamper Travel” July 4, 2016.
Georgetown Security Studies Review, “Professor Spotlight Series: An Interview with Daniel Kaniewski, SSP Adjunct Professor” May 23, 2016.
The Daily Signal, “Experts: States, Not Federal Government, Should Respond to Disasters” July 21, 2015.
Congressional Quarterly, “Seven Years After Katrina, Public Still Lags on Preparation” September 3, 2012.
GW Hatchet, “GW expands web security programs” August 20, 2012.
Daniel Kaniewski director of the George Washington University Cybersecurity Initiative, said because policymakers try to balance national security and privacy interests in cyberspace, the nation is in need of business, scientific and legal leaders in the field.
New York Times, “Convention Time, Clog Time” August 13, 2012.
“Fair to say visitors are not going to be able to travel as freely as in a normal week in Charlotte and Tampa,” said Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of the GW Homeland Security Policy Institute. In his experience, travelers should expect a range of issues, including, “fences, screening including metal detectors and rerouting transportation.”
Washington Examiner, “Educating Our Guardians” July 18, 2012.
Reuters, “U.S. Power, Telecoms Outages Leave Americans Vulnerable” July 02, 2012.
Daniel Kaniewski a former disaster response advisor to President George W. Bush, said the power failures in the Washington area were “unprecedented” and that this was the kind of outage that “keeps Homeland Security officials up at night.”
Congressional Quarterly, “Report: Tighter Coordination Needed Between Public Health, Emergency Response” June 7, 2012.
Congressional Quarterly, “Texas Storms Show Need for Emergency Planning” April 4, 2012.
Congressional Quarterly, “Homeland Security Experts Weigh In: What to Change” January 4, 2012.
Huffington Post, “Homeland Security Grants To Cities Soon To Suffer More Deep Cuts” December 29, 2011.
“UASI funding should be directed to those urban areas at greatest risk, not spread far and wide to satisfy each mayor, governor or congressman’s inherent desire to have the maximum amount of homeland security funding,” said Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University and a former official in President George W. Bush’s White House. “The budget reality in Washington requires that scarce federal resources be allocated according to risk profiles, not wish lists.”
Congressional Quarterly, “Resilience Challenge Extends to Psychology, Experts Say” November 9, 2011.
Huffington Post, “Homeland Security Bill Targets Homegrown Islamist Extremism” October 11, 2011.
Huffington Post, “D.C. Evacuation Plans: No One In Charge Of Capital Emergency Response” September 20, 2011.
Dan Kaniewski at the GW Homeland Security Policy Institute agreed that no matter what local and state officials do, if the federal government decides to close, they will be left to deal with the consequences. “In any other part of the country the old saying that the federal government supports, not supplants, state and local officials, applies,” he said. “But here we’ve turned the equation on its head.”
GW Hatchet, “Faculty reflect on how Sept. 11 changed teaching, careers” September 12, 2011.
During his time at the Homeland Security Policy Institute, Daniel Kaniewski said he has been able to more deeply analyze the underlying issues that drive homeland security policy through regular meetings with senior government officials.
“For students, learning about 9/11 is imperative, because it is the history of the attacks that underpins the homeland security policies and governmental institutions that exist today,” he said. “Without a firm understanding of the history, it’s impossible to understand the reasons that such policies and institutions exist.”
Congressional Quarterly, “FEMA Wrestles With Building a Self-Sufficient Public” July 21, 2011.
Congressional Quarterly, “Resilience Needs Must Be Defined, Operationalized, Report Finds” May 19, 2011.
Homeland Security Today, “Think Tank Examines Opportunities to Advance National Resilience” May 17, 2011.
“With the recent devastation caused by tornadoes and floods in the South and Midwest, the experience of the Japanese earthquake, and the release of PPD-8, we felt it was important to share our initial findings now,” said Daniel Kaniewski, co-chair of the task force and deputy director of HSPI, in a statement. “We look forward continuing our efforts over the course of the year.”
Government Security News, “Task force urges policy makers to ‘operationalize’ the concept of resilience” May 16, 2011.
Boston Herald, “Barack Obama’s hard cell” May 11, 2011.
Christian Science Monitor, “Bin Laden fallout: Do US trains need a ‘no-ride list’?” May 9, 2011.
Congressional Quarterly, “New Terror Alert System Earns Mostly Praise from Security Experts” April 24, 2011.
Washington Times, “Five-level security alert system goes to two” April 20, 2011.
“Very little though had been given … to how to communicate with state and local governments” about terror threats, Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute, told The Washington Times. Mr. Kaniewski served in the White House from 2005 to 2008.
Christian Science Monitor, “Coming soon on Facebook and Twitter: terror threats from Homeland Security” April 20, 2011.
Congressional Quarterly, “For FEMA Earthquake Exercise, Honesty Is Key” April 6, 2011.
New York Times, “U.S. Rethinks Strategy for the Unthinkable” December 15, 2010.
“Public education is key,” Daniel J. Kaniewski, a security expert at George Washington University, said in an interview. “But it’s easier for communities to buy equipment — and look for tech solutions — because there’s Homeland Security money and no shortage of contractors to supply the silver bullet.”
Homeland Security Today, “US Citizen in Plot to Attack DC Subway Fits Domestic Terror Pattern” October 28, 2010.
Reuters, “Army tribunal to consider mass killing at U.S. base” October 11, 2010.
Christian Science Monitor, “After Times Square bombing, should New York get more anti-terrorism funding?” May 19, 2010.
Washington Post, “National disaster exercises, called too costly and scripted, may be scaled back” April 2, 2010.
“They’re wondering: What is the outcome of the review?” said Daniel J. Kaniewski, deputy director of George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute and a White House homeland security official from 2005 to 2008. “Will they be changing or doing an about-face on exercises? . . . Nobody seems to know.”
Government Executive, “Stalled border security nomination worries former commissioners” March 2, 2010.
Homeland Security Today, “Debating Domestic Terrorism” February 22, 2010.
CNN.com, “To Survive After Quake, the Desperate Target Haiti’s Orphanages” January 21, 2010.
The Globe and Mail, “1,415 Canadians Still Missing Days After Earthquake, As Loved Ones Fear Worst” January 18, 2010.
GW Today, “Helping Haiti” January 15, 2010.
Congressional Quarterly, “Experts Ponder Expanded Role for FEMA in Foreign Disasters” January 15, 2010.
The Globe and Mail, “Haiti a Nation In Ruins, Crying for Help” January 14, 2010.
Congressional Quarterly, “Challenges Unlike Anything in U.S. Await Teams in Haiti” January 13, 2010.
Homeland Security Today, “US Speeds Disaster Response, Recover to Haiti” January 13, 2010.
CQ Weekly, “Many Top Security Spots Still Empty” January 11, 2010.
Congressional Quarterly, “Basham, HSPI: State and DNI Also Responsible for Dec. 25” January 8, 2010.
Federal News Radio, “Christmas terror plot” January 7, 2010.
New York Times, “Safety First” December 29, 2009.
“Having been on the other side,” Daniel Kaniewski says, “when I look at a résumé the first thing I look for is not the master’s in homeland security but has the applicant demonstrated expertise in the area I need?” Mr. Kaniewski himself came up through the ranks, from firefighter to special assistant to President George W. Bush for homeland security (with an M.A. in national security and Ph.D. in policy and administration in between). “You don’t have to look for schools with the best homeland security degree,” he says. “It’s a marketing strategy for universities.”
U.S. News and World Report, “Janet Napolitano’s Tough Job at Homeland Security” July 24, 2009.
“She was able to step up and focus on the swine flu rather than fight the interagency turf wars that emerge during high-profile events,” says Daniel Kaniewski, who served as President Bush’s special assistant for homeland security. Kaniewski added that the adept handling of the outbreak was also helped by a critical presidential directive, issued in late February, that placed DHS in charge of the national incident management system.
The Washington Post, “Metro’s Crash Reveals Gains in Preparedness” June 28, 2009.
Christian Science Monitor, “Emergency response to Metrorail crash shows post-9/11 gains” June 24, 2009.
ByGeorge!, “Homeland Security Policy Institute Addresses National Threats” April/May 2009.
Congressional Quarterly, “Heyman Wins Praise at Confirmation Hearing for DHS Policy Spot” May 13, 2009.
FireChief.com, “Homeland Security Expert Discusses Pandemic Preparedness” May 2009.
Congressional Quarterly, “Experts Offer Advice for Incoming FEMA Chief” April 29, 2009.
Homeland Security Today, “Post-Katrina Reform Act Augments Both FEMA and DHS, Experts Say” March 18, 2009.
Congressional Quarterly, “As Talk of Reorganization Moves Forward, Congress Prepares to Stake Claims Over FEMA” February 27, 2009.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Mr. Professor Goes to Washington” January 16, 2009.
Associated Press, “Obama Plans to Overhaul Counterterrorism apparatus” January 8, 2009.
National Journal, “Experts Warn Against Upheaval With FEMA & DHS” November 19, 2008.
The Wall Street Journal, “Bush Administration Alumni Find Job Climate Chilly” October 31, 2008.
Daniel Kaniewski, a special assistant to President Bush for homeland security who quit in August, said he spurned feelers from defense contractors, lobbying firms and management consultancies, because “few offer the ability to return to a ‘normal’ life.” Instead, he rejoined a George Washington University think tank.
The Wall Street Journal, “New National Alert System is Set Back” October 22, 2008.
The Wall Street Journal, “FEMA Plays the Anticipation Game” September 4, 2008.
The Wall Street Journal, “FEMA Chief Praised for Cool Head, Preparation as Gustav Approached” September 2, 2008.
The Wall Street Journal, “FEMA Shifts Focus as Storm Progresses” September 1, 2008.
USA Today, “Bush focuses on Gustav instead of convention” September 1, 2008.
The GW Hatchet, “GW alum assists president on homeland security” April 4, 2007.
Congressional Quarterly, “Collins Making Second Effort to Boost Emergency Medical Coordination” June 23, 2005.
Congressional Quarterly, “Editor’s Note: On the Numbers” June 8, 2005.
Journal of Emergency Medical Services, “Message to Congress: Level the field & give EMS equal priority” cover story, June 2005.
Journal of Emergency Medical Services, “Brewing National Debate: Move EMS from DOT to DHS?” May 3, 2005.
Congressional Quarterly, “Study: Emergency Medical Services Should Move From DOT to DHS” May 3, 2005.
Washington Post, “Security Spending Initiates Disputes” April 13, 2005.
Congressional Quarterly, “Source: Chertoff Considering Moving Office for Domestic Preparedness to FEMA” April 8, 2005.
Associated Press, “Schools step up homeland security-related training” February 7, 2005.
Federal Computer Week, “Regional approaches get thumbs-up: Homeland security officials tackle preparedness planning” October 14, 2004.
Government Executive, “Homeland Security bid to set up regional structure could hit roadblocks” October 6, 2004.
MSNBC.com, “Domestic security will challenge next president” October 5, 2004.
Congressional Quarterly, “Keeping a Lid on Former Mayor’s Bioterror Preparedness Report.” August 16, 2004.