"At the core of the set of challenges that confront national, state, and local government officials concerning homeland security national preparedness public policy are a set of assumptions, upon which current and evolving policies are based, that are suspect if not fatally flawed. The policy outcomes resulting from these faulty assumptions (and facilitated by hindering institutional pathologies, misguided policies, and bad policy instruments) have left the nation less prepared than is possible had forward-thinking, aggressively applied modern public management models been used as the foundation upon which national preparedness could be established. The assumptions brought into focus in this article are:
"1. There is an idealized level of national preparedness; achieving a prescribed level of preparedness to respond to events of national significance, whether man-made or natural in origin, is possible based on current or foreseeable resource levels.
"2. The federal government is obliged to direct the development of national preparedness policy to ensure that state and local governments are working toward policy compliance and are providing full accountability for grant funds.
"3. Current homeland security public policy is coherent, embraces an all-hazards
approach to national preparedness and reflects the comprehensive involvement
of state and local governments in its development, deployment, and
"After a brief discussion of research methodology, this article traces the evolution of national preparedness policies and describes the institutional pathologies and policy instruments that have inhibited national preparedness. The next section provides analysis related to the research and an explanation of why the assumptions identified above are flawed. Finally, recommendations are offered that might allow the next administration and those with public safety, emergency management, and homeland security responsibilities at the state and local level insights into building community resilience and governance capacity that raises preparedness to as high a level as possible." —Introduction.
"Many assume that the only viable option for emergency response and recovery from a natural disaster is one that is centrally directed. However, highlighted by the poor response from the federal government and the comparatively effective response from private retailers and the Coast Guard after Hurricane Katrina, this assumption seems to be faulty. Big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart were
extraordinarily successful in providing help to damaged communities in the days, weeks, and months after the storm. This Policy Comment provides a framework for understanding why private retailers and the Coast Guard mounted an effective response in the Gulf Coast region. Using this framework provides four clear policy recommendations:
"1. Give the private sector as much freedom as possible to provide resources for relief and recovery efforts and ensure that its role is officially recognized as part of disaster protocols.
2. Decentralize government relief to local governments and non-governmental organizations
and provide that relief in the form of cash or broadly defined vouchers.
3. Move the Coast Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) out of the
Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
4. Reform 'Good Samaritan' laws so that private-sector actors are clearly protected when they make good faith efforts to help.
"If disaster situations are to be better handled in the future, it is important that institutions are in place so that actors have the appropriate knowledge to act and incentives to behave in ways that benefit others. The framework and recommendations provided in this paper help to provide a good understanding of the appropriate institutions."—Executive Summary.
+Kruger, Lennard G., Specialist in Science and Technology Resources, Science, and Industry Division, Congressional Research Service (CRS), United States Fire Administration: An Overview (CRS Report for Congress, Order Code RS20071) (Updated October 10, 2008) (PDF — 70.3K)
"The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) — which includes the National Fire Academy (NFA) — is currently an entity within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The objective of the USFA is to significantly reduce the nation's loss of life from fire, while also achieving a reduction in property loss and non-fatal injury due to fire. The Administration's FY2009 budget proposal requested $40.9 million for USFA, a reduction of 5.5% from the FY2008 level. For FY2009, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved $43.3 million for USFA, while the House Appropriations Committee approved $44.979 million. The Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 110-329) — which contains the FY2009 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act — provided $44.979 million for USFA. Meanwhile, the United States Fire Administration Reauthorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 4847/S. 2606) was signed into law on October 8, 2008 (P.L. 110-376). This report will be updated as events warrant."—Summary.
"The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is an agreement among member states to provide assistance after disasters overwhelm a state's capacity to manage consequences. The compact, initiated by the states and coordinated by the National Emergency Management Association, provides a
structure for requesting emergency assistance from party states. In 1996 Congress approved EMAC as an interstate compact (P.L. 104-321). EMAC also resolves some, but not all, potential legal and administrative obstacles that may hinder such assistance at the state level. EMAC also enhances state preparedness for terrorist attacks by ensuring the availability of resources for fast response and facilitating multi-state cooperation in training activities and preparedness exercises.
"In June of 2008, a bill to reform mutual aid agreements for the National Capital Region (P.L. 110-250) was enacted to expand the types of organizations and agencies in the region that are authorized to enter into agreements and ease the requirements for agents and volunteers to respond to an incident. Legislation in the 110th Congress (S. 1452) would require EMAC to ensure that licensed mental health professionals with expertise in treating vulnerable populations are included in the leadership of the National Disaster Medical System and are available for deployment with Disaster Medical Assistance Teams.
"This report will be updated as events warrant. This report is an update based upon a previous report written by Keith Bea, Specialist in American National
"This report provides a legal analysis of the eligibility of an influenza pandemic
(flu pandemic) to be declared by the President as a major disaster under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. In 1997, the discovery of a virulent H5N1 strain of avian influenza (bird flu) raised the possibility of a flu pandemic occurring in the United States. In such an event, the Stafford Act could provide authority for federal assistance. Although it is widely agreed that emergency assistance under the Stafford Act could be provided by the President in the event of a flu pandemic, questions remain as to whether major disaster assistance would be available. An analysis of the Stafford Act suggests that this issue was not addressed by Congress when it drafted the current definition of a major disaster, and that neither inclusion nor exclusion of flu pandemics from major disaster assistance is explicitly required by the current statutory language.
"In the 109th Congress, ? 210 of S. 3721 would have made any outbreak of infectious disease explicitly eligible for major disaster assistance, but it was not
"The present capability and future effectiveness of America's network of emergency telecommunications services are among the issues under review by Congress and other entities. Emergency calls (911) on both wireline (landline) and wireless networks are considered by many to be part of the public safety network. As technologies that can support 911 improve, many are seeing the possibility of integrating 911 into a wider safety net of emergency communications and alerts."—Summary
+Peek, Lori (Editor), Children, Youth and Environments Center for Research and Design, Special Issue: Children and Disasters Children, Youth and Environments Journal, v. 18, no.1 (2008)
This special issue includes a collection of 20 papers from around the world, 4 book reviews, a media review and and an annotated compilation of resources focusing on children and youth before, during and after disasters occur.
"Natural disasters and acts of terrorism have placed a spotlight on the ability of health care providers to surge in response to catastrophic conditions. This paper reviews the status of efforts to develop the capacity
and capabilities of the health care system to respond to disasters and other mass casualty events. Strategies for adapting routine medical practices and protocols to the demands posed by extraordinary circumstances and scarce
resources are summarized. Existing federal roles, responsibilities, and assets relative to the contributions of state and local government and the private sector are described, including specific programmatic activities such as the Strategic National Stockpile, the National Disaster Medical System, and the Hospital Preparedness Program. Opportunities for federal policymakers
seeking to strengthen and expedite preparations for medical disaster response are highlighted." —Overview.
"This paper investigates the political economy of FEMA's post-9/11 merger with the Department of Homeland Security. Using panel data for the post-DHS merger but pre-Katrina period, this paper examines how FEMA's much-debated reorganization has impacted the strong political influences on disaster declaration and relief spending identified by Garrett and Sobel (2003) before FEMA's reorganization. The authors find that although politically-important states for the president continue to have a higher rate of disaster declaration, disaster expenditures are no longer higher in states with congressional representation on FEMA oversight committees. These results suggest reorganization has reduced political pressure within FEMA."—Abstract
"The Office of University Programs, Science and Technology Directorate is sponsoring a summit to showcase key research and education priorities of the Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence, the Science and Technology Directorate and the Department of Homeland Security at large. The Summit highlights the efforts of the Office of University Programs as it continues to rise to the challenges associated with helping to protect the Nation. Subject matter experts from academia, industry, government and the international community will address the latest homeland security research and education issues in the following areas:
Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events; Security of Agriculture and the Food System; Studies of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism; Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response; Chemical and Biological Threats and Countermeasures; Emerging Threats; University Programs Homeland Security Education Initiatives; International Homeland Security Research Challenges."—Website.
This website includes pdf files of speakers' presentations and facts sheets produced in conjunction with the conference.
"This annex formally establishes a standard and comprehensive approach to national planning. It is meant to provide guidance for conducting planning in accordance with the Homeland Security Management System in the National Strategy for Homeland Security of 2007. Planning is one of the eight national priorities set forth in the National Preparedness Guidelines and it is a target capability is across all homeland security mission areas."—Abstract
"This report addresses FEMA's preparedness for the next catastrophic disaster. It is based on interviews with employees and officials of relevant agencies and institutions, direct observations, and a review of applicable documents. It is our hope that this report will result in more effective, efficient, and economical operations."—Preface
"Recognizing the need for an overarching emergency communications strategy to address these shortfalls, Congress directed the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) to develop the first National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP). Title XVIII of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 United States Code 101 et seq.), as amended, calls for the NECP to be developed in coordination with stakeholders from all levels of government and from the private sector.
In response, DHS worked with stakeholders from Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies to develop the NECP—a strategic plan that establishes a national vision for the future state of emergency communications."—Executive Summary.
This report focuses on the environmental effects of natural disasters that occur on the U.S.-Mexico border.
+United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Diaster Response: FEMA Should Take Action to Improve Capacity and Coordination between Government and Voluntary Sectors+United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), National Diaster Response: FEMA Should Take Action to Improve Capacity and Coordination between Government and Voluntary Sectors(Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-08-369) (February 2008) (PDF — 1M)
"DHS and the Red Cross agreed that the mass care primary agency role in the NRF should be shifted from the Red Cross to FEMA in large part because the primary agency needs to be able to direct federal resources, which the Red Cross cannot do. Although the Red Cross' specific responsibilities in ESF-6 have largely remained the same as it shifts to a support agency role, a key change is that the Red Cross will be responsible for reporting data from only Red Cross shelters—not all shelters, as was previously required. States will report data from non-Red Cross shelters. The changing ESF-6 roles of the Red Cross and FEMA raise several potential implementation issues once the NRF takes effect. First, the NRF includes expectations for the development of a shelter database to be used for collecting and reporting shelter data. Although FEMA and the Red Cross have developed an initial database for collecting and reporting shelter data, FEMA is still working to develop a federal shelter database that will track demographic data on shelter populations. Second, officials in some states we contacted were concerned about their ability to collect and report complete information from shelters. In particular, state officials were concerned about collecting data from unplanned shelters, which are usually opened by organizations with no disaster response experience. Third, while ESF-6 calls for an enhanced federal effort in helping coordinate voluntary agency assistance, FEMA does not have enough staff resources to fulfill this responsibility. Voluntary Agency Liaisons (VAL) are FEMA employees who coordinate the activities of voluntary organizations and FEMA, but currently there is only one full-time VAL who can work on the full range of coordination issues in each FEMA region, which can include up to eight states. In addition, VALs do not currently receive any role-specific training. Last, although FEMA has made progress, the agency has not yet completed its efforts to identify and fill gaps in mass care capabilities. For example, FEMA has completed an initial analysis of gaps in state mass care capabilities in 18 states, but is still working to expand this initiative to all states." —Results in Brief.