The American Red Cross - castigated in a recent House of Representatives report for disorganization in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - had been warned for years that its management structure would plague future disaster response, according to documents released Monday by a Senate panel.
In a letter to the charity that also was made public Monday, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, questioned the effectiveness of its massive organizational hierarchy. He released thousands of pages of internal documents describing long-standing inefficiencies within the Red Cross, the nation's primary nongovernment agency for disaster relief.
After Grassley wrote the charity in December, questioning its response to Katrina, he received dozens of letters, e-mails and phone calls from current and former Red Cross employees and volunteers.
Grassley is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has been investigating the corporate governance of charitable organizations.
The National Response Plan, developed after the 9-11 terrorist attacks, designates the primary role of the Red Cross as providing food, housing and medical care to large numbers of people after disasters, whether human or natural.
Some members of the House Select Committee on Katrina have called for the Red Cross to be stripped of that responsibility. The Red Cross alone raised $2 billion for hurricane relief, but Katrina overwhelmed its organizational structure, according to the House report.