Saturday, July 17, 2010

Moments in Time

AS we approach the 9th anniversary of the fateful events of 9/11/01 some reflection on that day is appropriate. The National Emergency Managers Association (NEMA) was conducting one of their semi-annual meetings in Montana on that day. Many state EM directors were in attendance. When planes were grounded in the US for several days carpools were arranged and some state directors had to cross the country to return to their jobs. Also several interesting speeches were scheduled for delivery that were not given or terminated.

One of those speeches was by Michael Brown, then the General Counsel of FEMA, and later in DHS the Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response until September 12th, 2005 following the early days of response to Hurricane Katrina he resigned.

Here is the speech he was scheduled to deliver that day (and perhaps did give) set forth below:

NEMA Annual Conference

Domestic Preparedness Session


Tuesday, September 11, 2001
9 – 9:20 a.m.
Big Sky Resort, Montana

Good morning. Thank you for inviting me to be here with you to discuss this very important issue of protecting our Nation’s population from the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Over the last several days, I have had the opportunity to speak to many of you individually. For those of you that I have not met personally, let me say a few words about my background.

(Mike Insert personal bio information and your personal/professional history with the Director)

Because of my long-standing relationship with Director Allbaugh, my role as FEMA’s General Counsel is outside the realm of most general counsels. Director Allbaugh has asked me to act on his behalf to ensure that FEMA is supporting the Vice President as he continues the Administration’s work to develop and implement a national strategy for dealing with domestic terrorism.

We in the Administration recognize that the individuals who will respond to the 911 phone calls are the local and State emergency managers, fire, emergency medical services, and law enforcement. The role of the federal government is to provide the best resources, education and training so that they will know exactly what to do.

As you know there has been a lot of recent activity in Washington, D.C. from the Administration, Capitol Hill and various commissions on how to best address our nation’s preparedness against domestic terrorism. You’re going to hear from the Departments of Justice, Defense and Commerce, as well as the American Medical Association, about their valuable efforts in this area and commitment to partnering with you. Without these commitments and those of the entire federal family, not to mention those of the state and local communities, we cannot be successful.

As you heard from Director Allbaugh yesterday, he is relying on the wisdom and experience of those at the state and local levels as we prepare a national plan that includes the active participation of all levels of government.

He is also committed to working closely with the Attorney General to ensure that the Department of Justice’s lead federal role for crisis management programs and FEMA’s lead federal role for consequence management programs are seamlessly and thoroughly integrated. Taking our direction from President Bush and Vice President Cheney, all of us in the federal family are committed to these same partnership principles.

I would like to talk to you today about three specific areas that we believe will pull the entities together for our common goal. These are:
  • The President’s and Vice President’s Direction;
  • The Creation of the Office of National Preparedness at FEMA; and
  • State and Local Partnerships in this effort.
Over the last several years, federal, state and local officials throughout the country have identified a series of concerns and challenges we must overcome so that we can do the best job possible of protecting the American people from a catastrophic event caused by terrorists. We all agree on what must be done. It is FEMA’s job to facilitate a successful strategy.

Recognizing the challenges identified by the Nation’s Governors, their representatives, such as you, mayors, commissioners and other local leaders, the President directed FEMA Director Allbaugh to create an Office of National Preparedness.

This Office will address the concerns raised by the General Accounting Office, Commissions, Congressional Committees and organizations such as the National Governors’ Association and NEMA.

Concerns such as:
  1. establishing a single entity to manage programs;
  2. developing an overall national terrorism preparedness strategy;
  3. and increasing coordination of federal preparedness programs and resources.
FEMA was selected for this mission by the President because of our successful history of Federal coordination of assets before, during and after emergencies. We also have a proven history of working with State and local governments to build their capabilities for all hazards, with a strong regional office component at the immediate availability of State and local governments. The Federal government has already learned a valuable lesson about coordinating responses to disasters, which we believe builds a strong basis for this additional mission.

By building on our experience and expertise of established coordination, we will bring together the nearly 46 federal departments and agencies under a facilitated and coordinated umbrella to achieve the goals and direction of the President.

On May 8, 2001, the President issued a statement entitled Domestic Preparedness Against Weapons of Mass Destruction which started the process of addressing these issues and concerns.

The President’s statement charges the Vice President with overseeing the development of a coordinated national effort.

In addition, Director Allbaugh was asked to create the Office of National Preparedness in order to do 3 things:
  1. Implement the results of those parts of the national effort overseen by the Vice President that deal with consequence management
  2. Coordinate all Federal programs dealing with WMD consequence management
  3. Work closely with state and local governments to ensure their planning, training, and equipment needs are met
Office of National Preparedness (ONP)
The mission of the ONP is to ensure that a comprehensive emergency preparedness and response capability exists to deal with WMD incidents within the United States.

The ONP will take the lead within the Federal government for the coordination, integration, and implementation of preparedness and consequence management programs and activities focused on developing, building, and maintaining the national capability for dealing with terrorism incidents and other threats.

To accomplish this mission, the ONP will function as an interagency organization representing all levels of government to:
  1. Support the Vice President’s role in overseeing development of the national effort
  2. Coordinate all Federal preparedness programs and activities dealing with WMD consequence management
  3. Solicit guidance, input and advice from local and state first responder and emergency management organizations regarding the continued development, building, and sustainment of the national capability
  4. Support the building of an integrated local, state, and Federal preparedness and consequence management capability involving planning, training, exercises, equipment acquisition, research and development, expert advice, and other areas
  5. Coordinate with involved Federal departments and agencies to review and evaluate programs, identifying and eliminating overlaps and redundancy.
  6. Make information on consequence management preparedness and response programs and activities readily available to local, state, and Federal responders.
The ONP is not intended to take over any individual agency program or function, but to coordinate and facilitate the overall inter-agency preparedness efforts.

The ONP will work closely with State and local governments to ensure their input into programs and activities as it seeks to improve the quality of Federal support for State and local emergency management personnel and first responders. In fact, we expect State and local detailees to be at the table as we move forward with the operation of the ONP.

The Office will be built upon the existing Federal Response Plan structure and an all hazard emergency management approach. This will allow for a better link between preparedness and response under a unified organization. The FRP structure allows us to build upon what we do day-in and day-out when a natural disaster strikes. Thus, the federal government can use its existing “coordination umbrella”, not only for response, but also for the leveraging of assets and resources in preparation of terrorism events. We are currently working with the federal signatory partners of the FRP to recommit to the philosophies and operational protocols of the plan.

FEMA and the Department of Justice have recognized the importance of seamless integration of crisis and consequence management. To achieve this, Director Allbaugh and Attorney General John Ashcroft have both re-signed the Terrorism CONPLAN which supports the Terrorism Annex to the FRP.

While housed within FEMA, the ONP will be responsible for coordinating all Federal programs, including those sponsored by FEMA. The ONP will evaluate FEMA’s programs and activities as it will the programs and activities from all other Federal departments and agencies to ensure that the federal assets are allocated appropriately to meet this challenge. Based on identified needs, the ONP will recommend changes to programs and funding streams where duplication and fragmentation exist. This will help us leverage assets, expertise, and valuable resources to meet the needs of state and local first responders.

Start-up Process
In an effort to take a first step in this direction, Director Allbaugh announced on June 5th the restructuring of FEMA, which included creating the Office of National Preparedness, headed by an Executive Director reporting directly to him. The ONP will also include representatives from involved Federal departments and agencies and local and State representatives. Local and State representation will be worked through the ONP elements located in each of FEMA’s 10 Regional Offices.

As the structure and activities of the ONP evolve, the staff will be augmented with detailees from within FEMA and other departments and agencies, and with local and state representatives. To ensure that the necessary level of expertise and resources are committed to appropriately staffing the ONP, Director Allbaugh is personally speaking with members of the President’s Cabinet.

Yesterday, Admiral Charles S. Abbott was designated to lead the effort for the Vice Presidents Study currently being conducted in Washington DC.

Next Steps
On July 2, Director Allbaugh activated the ONP at FEMA headquarters with an initial core staff and resources provided within FEMA’s current limited budget.

The Administration is currently working with Congress to obtain the necessary support and resources to accomplish the over arching goals.

The ONP will help ensure that local and State responders are prepared to respond to acts of terrorism. To this end, we will coordinate with other Federal departments and agencies, the States, and constituency groups (such as NGA, NEMA and the other “Big 7” organizations) to develop and sustain a viable and coordinated capability.

Our goal is to develop a holistic local, state, and Federal effort that is inclusive of ALL participants. For this reason we will continue to consult with local and State officials and first responders to ensure that their input and participation are included.

Upcoming Activities
One of ONP’s first activities will be to prepare a comprehensive catalog of federal programs and resources in order to fully understand what is currently available and where we have shortfalls.

  • Within existing staffing resources, we will refine and implement the ONP mission statement based on the President’s and Vice President’s vision, goals and objectives to best meet the mutually agreed upon needs of federal, State and local governments in protecting the citizens and communities of this country.
  • Following Congressional action to fund the ONP, the office will develop a staffing plan of around 75 people, to include regional positions and state and local representation.
We are poised to move forward in a meaningful way with the support and direction of the President and Vice President, the creation of the Office of National Preparedness and full, active participation of state and local partners. We look forward to working with each of you and our other stakeholders on this important undertaking. This is a critical matter and it will require the commitment of ALL of us working together to ensure its success. You have our commitment.

Again, thank you for asking me to represent FEMA and Director Allbaugh here today.

Following the remarks of the other presenters here today, I will be glad to answer your questions.

((You will be followed by: Andy Mitchell, Deputy Director, DOJ Office of State and Local Domestic Preparedness Support; Bob Newberry, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, DOD Special Operations Low Intensity Conflict; Nancy Wong, DOC Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, Senior Executive Program Manager for Industry Outreach; Scott Deitchman, MD MPH, American Medical Association National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health/CDC, Office of the Deputy Director.)) (( A 10-15 minutes Q&A session will be conducted following the completion of the presentations by all presenters.))