I would like to propose direct resourcing and the establishment of new regional integrated staffs to strengthen the National Preparedness System and further the intent of the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) of 2006.
A lot of the fundamental and interrelated structural and process problems which plague the current system could be corrected by direct funding from the Federal Government for national catastrophic planning and assessments. Resourcing primarily via grants, with their oversight and reporting requirements, fosters intergovernmental relationships that can be more adversarial than collaborative and thus not optimal for unity of purpose.
DHS and FEMA could finance an intergovernmental, interagency regional catastrophic preparedness staff in each region. State and local authorities would assign representatives to such a staff for temporary duty and receive federal reimbursements under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) Mobility program. There would be no financial onus on the states or locals—a major and legitimate concern, especially with today’s budget deficits.
It is only at the regional level where we can get to consensus for that region. These standing regional staffs would be where Federal, State, Tribal, Territorial, Local, private sector, and NGO reps would come together daily, from the beginning, as co-equal partners to build a bottom-up, collaborative culture of preparedness—or even resilience—and the collaborative regional programs to go with it.
Such standing staffs could work with existing planning, training, and exercise units in the states and at the local level to conduct: catastrophic risk assessments; catastrophic operational planning and exercise validation; catastrophic capability inventories via negotiated processes, through which states could identify gaps for targeting grants and other resources; and regional evaluations and self-assessments informed by regionally-determined performance metrics.
The Homeland Security Team of the Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) produced a study earlier this year informed by a working group of over 20 experts, including former senior representatives from DHS and FEMA, state and local government officials, and the private sector. The report can be found at