Repeat Audit Findings: How FEMA Responds to Feedback
Melanie Waddell
International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (available online)

Working Papers

Strategic Decision-Making in Budgeting and Finance for Disaster: The Case of COVID-19
Melanie Waddell

Practice What is Preached: Is FEMA Contracting Responsive to Advancing Democratic Values
Melanie Waddell and Katherine Willoughby

Who Gets What in Disaster Funding? The Importance of State Brokers as a Determinant for Resource Allocation
Melanie Waddell

Dissertation: How Do States Budget for Disasters?

My dissertation research engages a variety of research methodologies and analytical techniques, including organizational network analysis, OLS regression, qualitative comparative analysis, case studies, and structured interviews to examine how states budget for disasters.

My dissertation’s first essay examines how state governments interact with others in the emergency management (EM) network. As part of this work, I am developing a survey to state emergency management agency directors to understand the network connections of these agencies with other organizations and stakeholders. Findings to date suggest that states behave differently when acting in different roles, with important practical implications for practitioners in the EM space.

The second paper of my dissertation uses qualitative comparative analysis to identify sets of states with similar behaviors related to disaster management. I also examine the various mechanisms states use to budget and whether these strategies influence outcomes for state fiscal health and sustainability.

The third paper in my dissertation considers three case studies of states dealing with various natural weather-related disasters all in the same year. As part of this work, I will conduct qualitative research interviews to gain more insight into the nuances of each state’s strategies for dealing with their particular disaster.

Overall findings highlight the importance of states in the EM network and delve into specifics surrounding the nuances of their budget interactions.

Research Agenda

My research agenda focuses on the effects of disasters by examining governments at all levels in the U.S., public budgeting mechanisms, policy creation and implementation, and how these levels of government respond to these crises. Current works-in-progress include a paper on the options available for municipal governments in responding to a crisis and how this affects financial outcomes and community resilience (coauthored with Dr. Robert Hines at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte), a paper looking at performance metrics in state agency audits to identify recurring problem areas for disaster management (with Dr. Elaine Liu and Melissa Rubiano at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice – City University of New York and Dr. Katherine Willoughby at the University of Georgia), and a series of papers on project management and disaster response looking specifically at integrated performance management (with Dr. Robert Hines at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte and Dr. Andrew Grandage at Western Carolina University).