Friday, January 28, 2011

DHS/FEMA Guidance

Lengthy guidance materials were issued by DHS/FEMA in the Bush administration concerning emergency planning and preparedness. In August 2007 several documents were issued discussed in the Preface to one of them, the National Preparedness Guidelines. Extract follows:

"Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 (HSPD-8) of December 17, 2003 (“National Preparedness”) directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a national domestic all-hazards preparedness goal. As part of that effort, in March 2005 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the Interim National Preparedness Goal. Publication of the National Preparedness Guidelines (Guidelines) finalizes development of the national goal and its related preparedness tools.
The Guidelines, including the supporting Target Capabilities List, simultaneously published online, supersedes the Interim National Preparedness Goal and defines what it means for the Nation to be prepared for all hazards. There are four critical elements of the Guidelines:
(1) The National Preparedness Vision, which provides a concise statement of the core preparedness goal for the Nation.
(2) The National Planning Scenarios, which depict a diverse set of high-consequence threat scenarios of both potential terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Collectively, the 15 scenarios are designed to focus contingency planning for homeland security preparedness work at all levels of government and with the private sector. The scenarios form the basis for coordinated Federal planning, training, exercises, and grant investments needed to prepare for emergencies of all types.
(3) The Universal Task List (UTL), which is a menu of some 1,600 unique tasks that can facilitate efforts to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from the major events that are represented by the National Planning Scenarios. It presents a common vocabulary and identifies key tasks that support development of essential capabilities among organizations at all levels. Of course, no entity will perform every task.
(4) The Target Capabilities List (TCL), which defines 37 specific capabilities that communities, the private sector, and all levels of government should collectively possess in order to respond effectively to disasters.
The Guidelines reinforce the fact that preparedness is a shared responsibility. They were developed through an extensive process that involved more than 1,500 Federal, State, and local officials and more than 120 national associations. They also integrate lessons learned following Hurricane Katrina and a 2006 review of States’ and major cities’ emergency operations and evacuation plans."

Since that time DHS/FEMA have issued several preparedness reports in partial compliance with statutory mandates. One in January 2009 and another in September 2010 both of which can be found on the baseline documents section of this blog's home page. Oddly there was almost no calibration to the formal guidance documents issued and now after over two years of the Obama Administration most of the announcements/pronouncements of the DHS/FEMA leadership makes no real reference to understanding the fairly comprehensive guidance outstanding to both STATES and their LOCAL GOVERNMENTS and the federal community generally. You almost never see reference to these guidelines in DHS/FEMA or outside DHS/FEMA. Why not?

I would argue this is just another example of lack of "grip" of the agencies leadership. Perhaps Tim Manning who I discussed in a recent post could issue a comprehensive status report on how the documents referenced in these posts are currently being utilized, their adequacy, and their utility in accomplishing the DHS/FEMA new paradigm of "Resilience"!

Again a Congressional hearing on these issues might also be useful. What I find of great interest is that almost none of the principals of the Bush administration have issued articles or books discussing what they really accomplished during their time in DHS/FEMA. The Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff books revealed almost nothing about the inner workings of the Department. I am eagerly looking forwards to the Michael Brown book scheduled for release this month. So far I would have to conclude that most of the key Bush administration guidance and reports were written by contractors and little actual knowledge of those documents is present in the working levels of DHS/FEMA! Hoping I am wrong of course.