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The Elements of a Risk Management Plan

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Chapter 7: Statutory Authority

Chapter Outline

1. Introduction of topics and concepts to be discussed in the chapter.

a. Legal basis of modern emergency management in the United States.

b. Budget authority.

c. Program eligibility.

d. Roles and responsibilities.

2. Case Studies

a. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP): Legislation to Address a Particular Hazard

b. The Homeland Security Act of 2002: A New Emergency Management

c. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000: A Shift to Pre-Disaster Mitigation

3. Additional Sources of Information 4. Glossary of Terms 5. Acronyms 6. Discussion Questions a. General b. NEHRP c. Homeland Security Act of 2002 d. DMA 2000 7. Suggested Out of Class Exercises


No emergency management system anywhere in the world can properly function without statutory authority and consistent budget appropriations. Statutory authority defines disasters programs, determines who is eligible for these programs, provides the legal support needed to implement disaster programs and establishes the legal foundation for funding the programs and activities of the disaster agency. Without such authority, a government agency is powerless.

Legal Basis of Modern Emergency Management in the United States

The first recorded emergency management legislation in the United States occurred in 1803 when a Congressional Act was passed to provide financial assistance to a New Hampshire town devastated by fire. This is the first example of the Federal government becoming involved in a local disaster. During the 1930’s the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Bureau of Public Roads were both given authority to make disaster loans available for repair and reconstruction of certain public facilities after disasters. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) was created during this time to produce hydroelectric power and, as a secondary purpose, to reduce flooding in the region. The Flood Control Act of 1934 gave the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers increased authority to design and build flood control projects.

The next notable time frame for the evolution of emergency management occurs during the 1950’s. The era of the Cold War presented the principal disaster risk as the potential for nuclear war and nuclear fallout. Civil Defense programs proliferated across communities during this time. Federal support for these activities was vested in the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) and the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950.

The 1950’s were a quiet time for large-scale natural disasters. Hurricane Hazel, a Category 4 hurricane inflicted significant damage in Virginia and North Carolina in 1954. Hurricane Diane hit several Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states in 1955 and Hurricane Audrey, the most damaging of the three storms, struck Louisiana and North Texas in 1957. Congressional response to these disasters followed a familiar pattern of ad hoc legislation to provide increased disaster assistance funds to the impacted areas.

In the 1960’s the United States would be struck by a series of major natural disasters. The Ash Wednesday Storm in 1962 devastated over 620 miles of shoreline on the East Coast, producing over $300 million in damages. In 1964, an earthquake measuring 9.2 on the Richter scale in the Prince William Sound, Alaska, became front-page news through out America and the world. This Easter quake generated a tsunami that effected beaches as far down the Pacific Coast as California and killed 123 people. Hurricane Betsey struck in 1965 and Hurricane Camille in 1969 killing and injuring hundreds and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage along the Gulf Coast.

As with previous disasters, the response was passage of ad hoc legislation for funds. However, the financial losses resulting from Hurricane Betsey’s path across Florida and Louisiana started a discussion of insurance as a protection against future floods and a potential method to reduce continued government assistance after disasters. Congressional interest was prompted by the unavailability of flood protection insurance on the standard homeowner policy. Where it was available, it was cost prohibitive. These discussions, eventually led to passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 that created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana is appropriately credited with steering this unique legislation through the Congress. Unlike previous emergency management/disaster legislation, this bill sought to do something about the risk before the disaster struck. It brought the concept of community-based mitigation into the practice of emergency management. In simple terms, when a community joined the NFIP, in exchange for making federally subsidized, low cost flood insurance available to its citizens, the community had to pass an ordinance restricting future development in its floodplains. The Federal government also agreed to help local communities by producing maps of their community’s floodplains.

The NFIP began as a voluntary program as part of a political compromise that Boggs reached with then Senator Tom Eagleton of Missouri. As a voluntary program, few communities joined. After Hurricane Camille struck the Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi coasts in 1969, the goals of the NFIP to protect people’s financial investments and to reduce government disaster expenditures were not being met. But it took Hurricane Agnes devastating Florida, for a change to occur.

George Bernstein, brought down from New York by President Nixon to run the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), proposed linking the mandatory purchase of flood insurance to all homeowner loans backed by Federal mortgages. This change created an incentive for communities to join the NFIP, as a significant portion of the home mortgage market was federally backed. This change became the Flood Insurance Act of 1972.

In the 1970’s, responsibility for emergency management functions were evident in more than five Federal Departments and Agencies including the Department of Commerce (weather, warning and fire protection); the General Services Administration (continuity of government, stockpiling, federal preparedness), the Treasury Department (import investigation), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (power plants) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (flood insurance and disaster relief).

With passage of the Disaster Relief Act of 1974, prompted by the previously mentioned hurricanes and the San Fernando earthquake of 1971, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) possessed the most significant authority for natural disaster response and recovery through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) under the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration (disaster response, temporary housing and assistance). On the military side, there existed the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (nuclear attack) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (flood control). However, when one looked at the broad range of risks and potential disasters, more than 100 federal agencies were involved in some aspects of risk and disasters.

This pattern continued down to the State and, to a lesser extent, local levels. There were parallel organizations and programs that added to confusion and turf wars especially during disaster response efforts. The States and the Governors grew increasingly frustrated over this fragmentation. In the absence of one clear Federal lead agency in emergency management, an effort was initiated through the National Governor’s Association to consolidate Federal emergency management activities in one agency.

In the midst of these efforts, an accident occurred at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania, which added impetus to the consolidation effort. This accident brought national media attention to the lack of adequate off-site preparedness around commercial nuclear power plants and the role of the Federal government in responding to such an event.

On June 19, 1978, President Carter transmitted to the Congress, the Reorganization Plan Number 3 (3 CFR 1978, 5 U.S. Code 903). The intent of this plan was to consolidate emergency preparedness, mitigation, and response activities into one federal emergency management organization. The President stated that the plan would provide for the establishment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and that the FEMA Director would report directly to the President.

Subsequent to Congressional review and concurrence, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was officially established by Executive Order 12127 of March 31, 1979 (44 FR 19367, 3 CFR, Comp., p.376). A second Executive Order, Executive Order 12148, mandated reassignment of agencies, programs and personnel into the new entity FEMA.

The most sweeping piece of disaster relief legislation was the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988 (Public Law 93-288). The Stafford Act includes the following provisions: cost-sharing requirements for public assistance programs; provided funds for states and local governments to manage public assistance programs; encouraged hazard mitigation through a new grant program; and, gave the federal government the authority to provide assistance for disasters regardless of cause. The Act outlines the process for a Presidential Disaster Declaration and defines eligibility requirements for applicants for individual and public assistance. The Act also laid the legislative groundwork for the development and implementation of the Federal Response Plan (FRP) that is activated during a catastrophic disaster to marshal the full resources of the Federal government to support and state and local governments.

These legislative actions establish the statutory authority for the Federal government to support a national emergency management system in three critical areas: budget authority, program eligibility and roles and responsibilities.

Budget Authority

The bulk of past emergency management legislation at the Federal level has been prompted by disaster events and was created to address the need to provide Federal disaster assistance to communities and individuals. In effect these pieces of legislation were devised to provide the budget authority for spending Federal funds in helping communities and individuals to recover from catastrophic disasters. Budget authority is also provided for funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Disaster Relief Fund and the functions of the Federal Response Plan. Funds have also been authorized for preparedness and mitigation programs.

Program Eligibility

Current statutory authority defines eligibility requirements for individuals and communities for receiving Federal disaster assistance. This authority has established preparedness and mitigation programs designed to help communities and individuals be better prepared to respond and recover from disasters and to reduce the impacts of future disasters. Legislative action created the National Flood Insurance Program and defined the requirements that communities must meet to participate in the program and permit their citizens to purchase government subsidized flood insurance.

Roles and Responsibilities

These legislative authorities serve to define the roles and responsibilities of those Federal agencies and departments involved in emergency management. This issue was especially critical in the creation of FEMA and defining FEMA’s role through the Federal Response Plan in coordinating the actions of other Federal agencies and departments in supporting state and local disaster response efforts. The legislation also defines the roles and responsibilities of local and state government officials in seeking Federal disaster assistance through a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

The three case studies included in this chapter were prompted initially by disaster events and include language concerning budget authority, program eligibility and roles and responsibilities. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) was designed to address issues surrounding a specific hazard (earthquakes) and provides budget authority and roles and responsibilities for those Federal agencies authorized to implement the provisions of the Act. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the new department of Homeland Security in response to the September 11 attacks and brought together agencies and programs from across the Federal government much as the legislation that established FEMA did in 1979. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 is a good illustration of legislation that redefines spending and budget authorities. The Act authorized FEMA to spend Federal funds on hazard mitigation projects prior to a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the first time.

Case 7.1: The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP): Legislation to Address a Particular Hazard


Since its inception in 1977, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) has been the cornerstone of emergency management mitigation, planning and response to the earthquake related disasters in the United States. The program, now led by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), is a partnership of some of the nation’s most highly recognized Federal agencies involved in scientific research and development, including the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Today, these four agencies work hand-in-hand to provide our country, and the international community to a degree, the education and tools necessary to be successful in earthquake disaster management. NEHRP's mission includes not only the improved understanding, characterization and prediction of the earthquake hazard, but also has a strong focus on managing and mitigating the earthquake hazard in the built environment.

This case examines the earthquake hazard within the United States, and the passage of legislation by congress to create the Federal mitigation program in response to this recognized natural hazard. Additionally, the program’s accomplishments and currently-revised status are detailed.

Earthquakes in the United States

An earthquake is a sudden movement of the Earth, caused by an abrupt release of accumulated strain between two or more of the earth’s plates. When the crust of the Earth is subject to tectonic forces, a certain amount of deformation results. Due to the rigidity of the Earth’s crust, cracking or jerked movements can occur when the stress or pressure from the tectonic forces exceeds the yield strength of the adjacent plates. This activity creates vibrations called seismic waves. These waves travel through the earth and along its surface. These seismic waves cause the ground shaking of an earthquake (HR, 2003).

Earthquakes are most commonly measured in the United States using one of two scales. The first, called the Richter scale, is used by seismologists to express the seismic energy released by an earthquake. The scale is logarithmic, and ranges in magnitude from 1 to 10. Though this scale does not measure the intensity of shaking at ground level, Figure 7.1.1 displays typical effects observed at various Richter magnitude ranges. Another scale developed to measure the earthquake hazard, called the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, specifically measures the effects of an earthquake at different sites. This scale is commonly used by seismologists seeking information on the severity of earthquake effects, which can be more useful in determining damages caused by the event. Intensity ratings are expressed as Roman numerals between I at the low end, and XII at the high end (see sidebar 7.1.1). The Intensity Scale differs from the Richter Magnitude Scale in that the effects of any one earthquake vary greatly from place to place, so there may be many Intensity values (e.g.: IV, VII) measured from one earthquake. Each earthquake, on the other hand, should have just one Magnitude (although it is common for different stations to come up with slightly differing values.)

The earthquake hazard is present throughout all of the fifty United States. The hazard zones fluctuate in severity depending upon proximity to faults in the earth’s crust, as depicted in the hazard map displayed in Figure 7.1.2. Although the west coast and Alaska are famous for their propensity for earthquakes, the central and eastern parts of the country share this risk often unbeknownst to the residents of those areas.

History of Earthquakes in the United States

In the United States, earthquake records exist dating back to the late 14th century. Though they have occurred with moderate to severe intensity throughout the country, the most recent events have occurred in the western U.S. The following list highlights the most significant events in the past two centuries.

1. New Madrid earthquakes; New Madrid, Missouri; 1811-1812 2. San Francisco earthquakes; San Francisco, California; 1906 3. Alaska “Easter Sunday” earthquake; 1964 4. San Fernando earthquake; San Fernando, California; 1971 5. The Loma Prieta Earthquake; California; 1989 6. Northridge earthquake; California; 1994

These quakes have each played a significant role in the study of earthquake hazard mitigation in the United States; perhaps none more so than the Easter Sunday earthquake of 1964 and the San Fernando earthquake in 1971. The Easter Sunday earthquake violently shook Anchorage, Alaska and its surroundings in 1964, and caused the formation of a tsunami. This earthquake is recognized as one of the driving forces behind the commencement of formalized research of the causes of the earthquake hazard in the United States (Bullock, 2004). The San Fernando earthquake of 1971 resulted in an expansion of ongoing research such that mitigation of the hazard was examined. The San Fernando earthquake registered as Magnitude 6.5 on the Richter scale, killing 58 people and injuring over 2,000, and caused over $500 million in damages.


The earthquakes experienced in the United States in the 1960’s and 1970’s caught the attention of the American people, and of the national science community. They also drew the attention of Congress. In particular, Congressman George E. Brown, Jr., a democrat from California, realized the need for a national plan to respond to and recover from major earthquake disasters.

In 1977, Congressman Brown spearheaded what is known today as the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP). Through his work, Congressman Brown brought attention to the fact that, while the county was making strides in earthquake research, it was still lacking public policy relating to prevention of the tragedy associated with such events. Additionally, he recognized that there was little in terms of response mechanisms that addressed the specific hazard. Brown sought to spur the creation of building codes and infrastructure changes to mitigate the earthquake hazard, and to develop a response plan and the drills necessary to increase readiness for these destructive, mass casualty events.

The roots of Brown’s legislation appeared in the mid 1970's. At that time, concern over the 1971 San Fernando earthquake and the ‘Palmdale Bulge’ seismic zone in southern California led to the formation of the Newmark-Stever Committee by the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The committee was originally created to develop a program to understand and address the seismic hazards in southern California, but their mission was later expanded to include earthquake hazards on a national scale. The committee's recommendations eventually became the basis of the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act, which became Public Law 95-124 on October 7, 1977.

Congress detailed the assumptions under which they based the program within the act. Explicitly stated within its verbiage are the following declarations:

1. All 50 States are vulnerable to the hazards of earthquakes, and at least 39 of them are subject to major or moderate seismic risk, including Alaska, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington. A large portion of the population of the United States lives in areas vulnerable to earthquake hazards.

2. Earthquakes have caused, and can cause in the future, enormous loss of life, injury, destruction of property, and economic and social disruption. With respect to future earthquakes, such loss, destruction, and disruption can be substantially reduced through the development and implementation of earthquake hazards reduction measures, including (A) improved design and construction methods and practices, (B) land-use controls and redevelopment, (C) prediction techniques and early-warning systems, (D) coordinated emergency preparedness plans, and (E) public education and involvement programs.

3. An expertly staffed and adequately financed earthquake hazards reduction program, based on Federal, State, local, and private research, planning, decision making, and contributions would reduce the risk of such loss, destruction, and disruption in seismic areas by an amount far greater than the cost of such program.

4. A well-funded seismological research program in earthquake prediction could provide data adequate for the design, of an operational system that could predict accurately the time, place, magnitude, and physical effects of earthquakes in selected areas of the United States.

5. The geological study of active faults and features can reveal how recently and how frequently major earthquakes have occurred on those faults and how much risk they pose. Such long-term seismic risk assessments are needed in virtually every aspect of earthquake hazards management, whether emergency planning, public regulation, detailed building design, insurance rating, or investment decision.

6. The vulnerability of buildings, lifelines, public works, and industrial and emergency facilities can be reduced through proper earthquake resistant design and construction practices. The economy and efficacy of such procedures can be substantially increased through research and development.

7. Programs and practices of departments and agencies of the United States are important to the communities they serve; some functions, such as emergency communications and national defense, and lifelines, such as dams, bridges, and public works, must remain in service during and after an earthquake. Federally owned, operated, and influenced structures and lifelines should serve as models for how to reduce and minimize hazards to the community.

8. The implementation of earthquake hazards reduction measures would, as an added benefit, also reduce the risk of loss, destruction, and disruption from other natural hazards and manmade hazards, including hurricanes, tornadoes, accidents, explosions, landslides, building and structural cave-ins, and fires.

9. Reduction of loss, destruction, and disruption from earthquakes will depend on the actions of individuals, and organizations in the private sector and governmental units at Federal, State, and local levels. The current capability to transfer knowledge and information to these sectors is insufficient. Improved mechanisms are needed to translate

10. Existing information and research findings into reasonable and usable specifications, criteria, and practices so that individuals, organizations, and governmental units may make informed decisions and take appropriate actions.

11. Severe earthquakes are a worldwide problem. Since damaging earthquakes occur infrequently in any one nation, international cooperation is desirable for mutual learning from limited experiences.

12. An effective Federal program in earthquake hazards reduction will require input from and review by persons outside the Federal Government expert in the sciences of earthquake hazards reduction and in the practical application of earthquake hazards reduction measures.

The Act established the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) as a long-term, nationwide, earthquake risk reduction program. It also designated member agencies from within the Federal government, and denoted their activities and responsibilities (Runden, 1997). NEHRP's primary goals, as stated in the Act, where:

• The improvement of understanding, characterization and prediction of hazards and vulnerabilities • The improvement of model building codes and land use practices • Risk reduction through post-earthquake investigations and education • The development and improvement of design and construction techniques • An improved earthquake mitigation capacity; and • Accelerated application of research results.

FEMA was designated as lead agency of the program, and the Act assigned it several programmatic, planning, coordination, and reporting responsibilities (WSSPC, 2003). These include:

• To prepare annual program budgets; • To ensure that the program included the necessary steps to promote the implementation of earthquake hazard reduction measures by Federal, State, and local governments, national standards and model building code organizations, architects and engineers, and others with a role in planning and constructing buildings and lifelines; • To prepare a written plan for the program, including specific tasks and milestones for each partner agency, which would by updated as required no less frequently than every 3 years; • To prepare reports that describe the program’s activities and achievements; and • To request the assistance of Federal agencies (other than the program partners), as necessary, to assist in carrying out the mission of the program.

As a program member, FEMA was responsible for:

• Operation of a grant and technical assistance program which would enable States to do the following: o develop preparedness and response plans o prepare inventories and conduct seismic safety inspections of critical structures and lifelines o update building and zoning codes and ordinances to enhance seismic safety o increase earthquake awareness and education, and o encourage the development of multi-State groups for these purposes. • Preparation and execution of a comprehensive earthquake education and public awareness program, including the development of materials and their wide dissemination to schools and the general public; • Preparation and dissemination of information on building codes and practices for structures and lifelines; • The development and coordination of Federal interagency plans to respond to an earthquake, with specific plans for each high-risk area, which ensure the availability of adequate emergency medical resources, search and rescue personnel and equipment, and emergency broadcast capability; • Development of approaches to combine earthquake hazard reduction measures with measures for reduction of other natural and technological hazards; and • Provision of response recommendations to communities after an earthquake prediction has been made.

FEMA was the controversial partner during the development of NEHRP. The agency was clearly the newest of all the partners in the project in 1977. As such, it had little clout in Federal policy decision making and little respect from other federal agencies, including its 3 partners in the NEHRP program (Bullock, 2004). However, the organization was resilient, and out of the work to create a response plan to deal with a catastrophic earthquake came the roots of the Federal Response Plan (FRP). Another internationally renowned program led by FEMA, the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team program, also traces its roots to FEMA’s NEHRP-related research into earthquake response and recovery.

The other program partners included the United Stated Geological Survey (USGS), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Each of their stated functions follows below.

United States Geological Survey (USGS)

The primary function of the USGS as a member of NEHRP was to conduct research, especially as it related to characterizing and identifying earthquake hazards, assessing earthquake risks, monitoring seismic activity, and improving earthquake prediction capabilities. Specifically, the USGS was tasked with:

• Conducting a systematic assessment of the country’s identified seismic risks zones, and where appropriate, establishing and operating seismic monitoring projects. • Conducting seismic ‘microzonation’ studies in urban and other developed areas where earthquake risk was determined to be significant; • Working with State and local government officials governments to ensure that they are knowledgeable about the specific seismic risks in their areas; • The development of standard procedures for issuing earthquake predictions, including aftershock advisories; • When necessary, the issuance of earthquake predictions or other earthquake advisories; • The establishment of a Center for the International Exchange of Earthquake Information which: o promotes the exchange of information on earthquake research and earthquake preparedness between the United States and other nations; o maintains a library containing selected reports, research papers, and data produced through the program; and o answers requests from other nations for information on United States earthquake research and earthquake preparedness programs. • Operation of a National Seismic Network; • Support of regional seismic networks, which shall complement the National Seismic Network.

The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program monitors the Nation’s earthquakes, studies why they occur and how they shake the ground, provides quantitative earthquake-hazard assessments, helps promote loss-reduction measures using these results, and provides crucial scientific information to assist emergency responders when earthquakes occur. The program’s work is carried out by USGS scientific and technical personnel and also through a system of competitive external grants and contracts that is allotted twenty-five percent of the program’s funds. In the past 25 years, the grant program has funded approximately 2,500 grants and cooperative agreements with state geological surveys, university researchers and research consortia, state and local government agencies, and nonprofit and other organizations in the private sector.

The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program is now recognized as a leader in seismic-hazard studies. In implementing the results of these studies to mitigate the effects of earthquakes, USGS has actively collaborated with state geological surveys, emergency-response officials, earthquake engineers, local governments, and the public. This collaboration has resulted in improvements in earthquake preparedness and public safety in the United States (Filson, 2003).

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The National Science Foundation was given the responsibility for funding research on earth sciences that sought to improve the understanding of the causes and behavior of earthquakes, of earthquake engineering, and the human response to earthquakes. Specifically, the NSF was tasked with:

• Encouraging the prompt dissemination of significant earthquake-related findings, the sharing of data, samples, physical collections, and other supporting materials, and the development of intellectual property so research results could be used to mitigate earthquake damage; • In addition to supporting individual investigators, providing support for university research consortia and centers for research in geosciences and in earthquake engineering; • Working closely with the USGS to identify geographic regions of national concern that should be the focus of targeted solicitations for earthquake-related research proposals; • Emphasizing, in earthquake engineering research, development of economically feasible methods to retrofit existing buildings and to protect lifelines to mitigate earthquake damage; and • Supporting research that studies the political, economic, and social factors that influence the implementation of hazard reduction measures.

The NSF operates a major grant project titled “The Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).” Today, funding for this project is $82 million over a period of five years. The intent of NEES is to:

1. Change the focus on earthquake research from physical testing to seamless integration of testing, analysis and simulation; 2. Revolutionize the practice of earthquake engineering research with state-of-the-art experimental equipment and information technology; 3. Enable new earthquake hazard mitigation technologies: structural, geotechnical, and tsunami

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

NIST was given the responsibility for carrying out research and development to improve building codes and standards and practices for structures and lifelines. Specifically, the Act dictated that NIST:

• Work closely with national standards and model building code organizations, in conjunction with the Agency, to promote the implementation of research results; • Promote better building practices among architects and engineers; and • Work closely with national standards organizations to develop seismic safety standards and practices for new and existing lifelines.

The NIST Building and Fire Research lab conducts extensive research on engineering techniques that increase building survivability during earthquakes or events that result in earthquake-like characteristics. For example, NIST building engineers have worked with university and private researchers to develop a pre-cast concrete building joint that can withstand strong earthquakes. The joints use high-strength steel cables and mild steel bars that stretch during an earthquake, and then return to their original shape. The joints have since been used to construct a 39-story apartment building in San Francisco.

Changes to NEHRP in the 1990s

As a Senator from Tennessee in 1990, former-Vice President Al Gore introduced a congressional bill to reauthorize the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977. On November 16, 1990, this bill became Public Law 101-614, the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act. The Act significantly amended NEHRP by refining the agency responsibilities, program goals and objectives. The major changes to the original bill included:

• Giving FEMA the primary responsibility for planning and coordinating NEHRP; • Conducting earthquake hazard identification and vulnerability analyses; • Developing seismic design and construction standards; • Developing an earthquake prediction capability; • Preparing plans for mitigation, preparedness and response activities; • Conducting fundamental and applied research into the causes and implications of earthquake hazards; • Educating the public about earthquake hazards

The 102nd Congress produced several bills that would have amended the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, but none were passed. H.R. 2806 was introduced on June 27, 1991, which would have required that all earthquake-prone states be identified and would have established a program of earthquake insurance and reinsurance. H.R. 4792 was introduced by Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) on April 7, 1992 and S. 2533 was introduced the same day by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI). Both bills were similar to H.R. 2806 but dealt with earthquakes and volcanoes and would have established a program for earthquake and volcanic eruption insurance and reinsurance.

In November 1993, concerns were raised regarding the effectiveness of NEHRP. The program was seen as lacking a strategic plan, having insufficient coordination and implementation of research results, and lacking emphasis on mitigation. In response to these concerns, Dr. John H. Gibbons, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) directed that a study be conducted to address these concerns. The review was made by the National Earthquake Strategy Working Group (NESW), and the result was the report “Strategy for National Earthquake Loss Reduction,” as well as the formation of the National Earthquake Loss Reduction Program (know as NEP). The goals of NEP, coordinated by FEMA, included:

• Provide leadership and coordination for federal earthquake research; • Improve technology transfer and outreach; • Improve engineering of the built environment; • Improve data for construction standards and codes; • Continue the development of seismic hazards and risk assessment tools; • Analyze seismic hazard mitigation incentives; • Develop understanding of societal impacts and responses related to earthquake hazard mitigation; • Analyze the medical and public health consequences of earthquakes; and • Continue documentation of earthquakes and their effects.

NEHRP Accomplishments

Over its two and a half decades of existence, NEHRP enjoyed many successes that led to increased earthquake preparedness for the nation. The following list highlights several of those accomplishments, as reported in Congressional testimony by Chris Arnold, president of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI).

• Earlier NSF funded research and later FEMA support produced nationally applicable earthquake provisions for the design of new buildings. Regularly updated, most recently in 1997, these Provisions are incorporated into new building codes, and form the basis of the new International Building Code, which replaced the three US model codes in the year 2000. As part of this work an important effort in hazard mapping for the United States has resulted in the publication of completely revised and updated maps for use with the Provisions • A major innovation, which took over 5 years to develop, was the creation by FEMA of a software program to estimate earthquake losses across the U.S. Known as "Hazards U.S." (HAZUS) This hazards modeling program has since been expanded to perform loss estimations for other hazards like hurricanes. • Following the Northridge earthquake FEMA used some of its mitigation resources to enable four critical hospitals in the Los Angeles to undergo extensive repair and rebuilding. This represented the implementation of a specific seismic mitigation program which both guarded against earthquakes for decades to come, but also provided general upgrading of important health facilities. • NEHRP–sponsored social scientists have developed new tools and understandings about public policy, economic, societal, and other factors, such as community decision-making, that govern state and local adoption of measures to reduce future earthquake losses. • The successful recording of high levels of ground motion and structural response in several earthquakes over decades enabled remarkable progress in earthquake engineering and earthquake hazard assessment. These advances demonstrated the value of instrumentation programs that made such recordings possible. Prominent among such recent advances were the quantification of the high potential strength of near field ground motions –within a few kilometers of the fault line- especially the revelation of the nature of the "pulse" or "fling" that often dominates the motion. Only recently have these effects been quantified with sufficient accuracy that they can form the basis of code provisions. • NEHRP contributed, through USGS, to the TriNet program established to provide an emergency response tool focusing on the Los Angeles urban area. This is cooperative effort by FEMA, USGS, and the State of California, that provides real-time warning and information during and immediately after an earthquake event. • A national commitment to multidisciplinary research and outreach was been made by NSF’s decision to expand its research centers from one to three. The first was in New York (Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research), a second was been created in Illinois (Mid-America Earthquake Center), and the third is the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center, located in California. They have helped to focus NEHRP resources on regional needs for research, technology development, technology transfer, and public education about earthquake risk, and provide an infrastructure for nation-wide coordination of the development of seismic hazard mitigation technologies.

Selected NEHRP programs and program policies, developed over the course of NEHRP’s history, and described to Congress by Mr. Arnold, include:

• Performance Based Seismic Design

Although fatalities in US earthquakes have decreased dramatically, the economic damages have done the opposite. The last major US Earthquake, Northridge (1994), resulted in tens of billions of dollars in damage, not including business interruption costs, loss of housing insurance, instability and job loss. Experts have estimated that the potential losses for future earthquakes may exceed $100 billion in a single event.

Recently, engineers realized that the process of building design and construction must undergo a significant change in order to reduce societal losses. The new design and construction methodology called Performance Based Seismic Design (PBSD) was created to do just this. Several individuals and teams have and continue to work on PBSD. NEHRP has been a leading supporter in the movement towards widespread application of PBSD. Basic research sponsored by NSF provides much of the analytical and experimental basis which has given engineers the belief that really useful damage prediction and reliability are feasible, if not yet fully within their grasp. FEMA supported a seminal workshop and accompanying studies on PBSD at Berkeley in 1994. Most recently, FEMA commissioned EERI to develop an action plan for the products and comprehensive guidelines necessary for a proper application of the methodology.

• The FEMA Existing Building Program

While improved codes and design practices have made great advances possible in the design of new buildings; the main threat lies in the nation’s inventory of vulnerable existing buildings. Beginning in 1985, FEMA’s “Existing Building Program” has worked through an action plan that has culminated in the publication in 1998 of “FEMA 273.” The document provides engineers with systematic guidance to enable them to formulate effective rehabilitation to retrofit buildings and reduce the risk of future damages. The document has been converted into an ASCE Standard that will make the document an essential reference.

• Problem-Focused Research Following the Northridge earthquake, two major programs of research were designed and implemented to study and solve engineering deficiencies that the earthquake revealed. The first program dealt with finding solutions for the design of steel moment-frame buildings. A large number of these types of buildings suffered unexpected damage in the earthquake, raising serious questions about their design and fabrication. The research program is known as the SAC Steel Project after the joint venture of three non-profit organizations responsible for its technical management. The program is comprehensive, including physical testing, analysis, investigation of damage, performance prediction and evaluation and economic and policy studies.

The second problem-focused research program is aimed to reduce the deficiencies in wood frame design and construction that resulted in severe damage and losses in the Northridge earthquake. The three–year multi-university project, based at Caltech, was funded by FEMA under its Hazard Mitigation Program. In addition to Caltech, research was conducted at several California Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREe) universities. • Social Science Research and Application: Social science research can promote loss reduction first by improving knowledge of the social and economic dimensions of the earthquake problem, and then by providing guidance on how to apply both technical solutions and broader change-oriented strategies to lessen the impacts earthquakes have on the built environment and our social fabric. Although earthquakes may not yet be defined as a major social problem by many segments of our society, it is still necessary to view seismic hazards within a social policy framework. Like other social problems, the earthquake hazard will not be addressed adequately until both the social processes that produce earthquake vulnerability and the policy steps that need to be taken to reverse those processes are understood. Social science and policy research are essential accompaniments to the technical studies that are the basis of NEHRP research.


On March 1st, 2003 FEMA officially became part of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This new arrangement presented some significant challenges to FEMA, and to many of its programs, such as NEHRP. Because of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, there has been an overt shift in federal emergency management from the mitigation and response to natural and technological disasters to the prevention of terrorist attacks. Budgets are being realigned in support of agencies whose primary focus is thwarting terrorism, and long-standing programs for mitigation of natural hazards in the U.S. are undoubtedly feeling the impacts.

In 2003, NEHRP celebrated its first 25 years of existence. But this celebration was accompanied by hearings in Congress regarding the performance of the program and what its appropriate level of funding should be, and how that funding should be prioritized among other federal research and mitigation activities (HR, 2003). While the program had achieved significant progress since inception, and was generally considered by Congress to be a successful undertaking, it was stated at the time that new knowledge and tools have not translated to decreased overall vulnerability. As recorded during House Committee on Science hearings, Congress felt that, “end-user adoption of NEHRP innovations has been incremental and slower than expected,” and that the “slow implementation of new mitigating technologies has left us vulnerable to major losses.”

National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization of 2004

On October 25, President George W. Bush signed the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-360). The new law authorized $900 million to be spent over the five years on the development and implementation of earthquake hazard reduction measures and interdisciplinary earthquake research activities. In a significant policy shift, the lead agency status for NEHRP was transferred from FEMA to NIST.
The law also authorizes $72.5 million over three years for a new National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program that will be modeled after NEHRP. The program’s goal is to study the impact of wind on structures and to develop cost-effective ways to mitigate these impacts.


History has taught us the need for earthquake mitigation, and the U.S. government has addressed this need through the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program. Though mitigation has always been a difficult concept to sell, the legislation behind the act has helped to build a foundation for ongoing support of the mitigation for earthquake events. Additionally, recognition that these mitigation activities may have dual uses, and defend people and property from other hazards such as tornadoes, hurricanes, wind, or event terrorist attacks, has given greater credibility to NEHRP and mitigation in general. Clearly, that NEHRP has actually gained momentum at a time when natural hazards have experienced a shadow of attention is proof of the recognized value of the history and future potential of such a program.


House of Representatives (HR). 2003. “The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program: Past, Present, and Future.” Hearing Charter; Committee on Science. May.

Filson, McCarthy, Ellsworth, and Zoback. 2003. “The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program in NEHRP—Investing in a Safer Future.” U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 017-03. February.

Western States Seismic Policy Council (WSSPC). 2003. “National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program.”

Runden, Catherine. 1997. “Update on the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.” AGI Government Affairs Program. October 30.

Bullock, Jane. 2004. Bullock & Haddow, LLC. Personal Interview. April.

Shedlock and Pakiser. 1997. “Earthquakes.” United States Geological Survey; General Interest Publication. October.

The Nevada Seismological Laboratory. 1996. “The Modified Mercalli Scale of Earthquake Intensity.”

Figure 7.1.1: Typical Effects Observed During Various Richter Scale Magnitudes

|Descriptor |Richter magnitudes |Earthquake Effects |Frequency of Occurrence |
|Micro |Less than 2.0 |Microearthquakes, not felt. |About 8,000 per day |
|Very minor |2.0-2.9 |Generally not felt, but recorded. |About 1,000 per day |
|Minor |3.0-3.9 |Often felt, but rarely causes damage. |49,000 (estimated) per |
| | | |year |
|Light |4.0-4.9 |Noticeable shaking of indoor items, rattling noises. Significant |6,200 (estimated) per |
| | |damage unlikely. |year |
|Moderate |5.0-5.9 |Can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings over small |800 per year |
| | |regions. At most slight damage to well-designed buildings. | |
|Strong |6.0-6.9 |Can be destructive in areas up to about 100 miles across in |120 per year |
| | |populated areas. | |
|Major |7.0-7.9 |Can cause serious damage over larger areas. |18 per year |
|Great |8.0-8.9 |Can cause serious damage in areas several hundred miles across. |1 per year |
|Rare Great |9.0 or greater |Devastating in areas several thousand miles across. |1 per 20 years |

Figure 7.1.2: Earthquake Hazard Zones in the United States


Source: United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Figure 7.1.3: An example of a NEHRP success. Shown here, the Alaskan oil pipeline that survived severe damage after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake occurred on the Denali Fault in November 2002. Because of improved structural designs based on work by NEHRP participants the pipeline did not break, averting a major economic and environmental disaster.

Source: FEMA - Sidebar 7.1.1: Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale

I. People do not feel any Earth movement. II. A few people might notice movement if they are at rest and/or on the upper floors of tall buildings. III. Many people indoors feel movement. Hanging objects swing back and forth. People outdoors might not realize that an earthquake is occurring. IV. Most people indoors feel movement. Hanging objects swing. Dishes, windows, and doors rattle. The earthquake feels like a heavy truck hitting the walls. A few people outdoors may feel movement. Parked cars rock. V. Almost everyone feels movement. Sleeping people are awakened. Doors swing open or close. Dishes are broken. Pictures on the wall move. Small objects move or are turned over. Trees might shake. Liquids might spill out of open containers. VI. Everyone feels movement. People have trouble walking. Objects fall from shelves. Pictures fall off walls. Furniture moves. Plaster in walls might crack. Trees and bushes shake. Damage is slight in poorly built buildings. No structural damage. VII. People have difficulty standing. Drivers feel their cars shaking. Some furniture breaks. Loose bricks fall from buildings. Damage is slight to moderate in well-built buildings; considerable in poorly built buildings. VIII. Drivers have trouble steering. Houses that are not bolted down might shift on their foundations. Tall structures such as towers and chimneys might twist and fall. Well-built buildings suffer slight damage. Poorly built structures suffer severe damage. Tree branches break. Hillsides might crack if the ground is wet. Water levels in wells might change. IX. Well-built buildings suffer considerable damage. Houses that are not bolted down move off their foundations. Some underground pipes are broken. The ground cracks. Reservoirs suffer serious damage. X. Most buildings and their foundations are destroyed. Some bridges are destroyed. Dams are seriously damaged. Large landslides occur. Water is thrown on the banks of canals, rivers, lakes. The ground cracks in large areas. Railroad tracks are bent slightly. XI. Most buildings collapse. Some bridges are destroyed. Large cracks appear in the ground. Underground pipelines are destroyed. Railroad tracks are badly bent. XII. Almost everything is destroyed. Objects are thrown into the air. The ground moves in waves or ripples. Large amounts of rock may move. Source: FEMA
Case 7.2: The Homeland Security Act of 2002: A New Emergency Management


The Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HSA) was passed by the 107th Congress on November 19th, 2002, and signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 25th of the same year. The Act’s official title, “An Act to establish the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes,” reflects the wide ranging, open-ended, and somewhat uncertain goals that guided its creation. This act, as this case will show, is both the culmination of a decade-long process of recognition and acceptance of a global terrorist threat, and the beginning of a new age of emergency management within the United States.

The bureaucratic modifications stipulated by this act, namely the movement of Federal agencies within the executive office of the President, have been carried out largely in accordance with the schedule defined by its code. However, as would be expected from any transformation of such great magnitude, unforeseen complications and roadblocks continually appear within the new configuration and to the new operations, but the adjustments required to accommodate them occur with regularity. Ultimately, the goal of this legislation is to achieve a state of preparedness for the nation from all hazards, regardless of their natural, technological, or intentional origins.

Background: The Growing Need for Legislation Addressing the Terrorist Threat

Nunn Lugar Domenici Act

The contemporary roots of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 date back to the first term of the Clinton Administration. Several major terror-related events occurred during Clinton’s first three years in office, prompting the drafting and passage of the Nunn Lugar Domenici WMD Act (Public Law 104-201, September 23, 1996). These events include:

• 1993 Bombing of the World Trade Center • 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing • 1995 Tokyo Subway Sarin Gas Attacks

The primary result of the WMD Act was the provision of greater funding for training and equipment for the nation’s first responders. This act addressed what could be done in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, but very little was done to change the way that the Federal Government prevents terrorist acts from occurring in the first place. Always in the background, however, was a growing bipartisan movement calling for a less fragmented and more coordinated approach to combating terrorism.

Terrorism Annex to the Federal Response Plan

In 1996, during the Olympic competitions in Atlanta, Georgia, a bomb was detonated in a crowd, injuring dozens of people and killing one. The source of the attack was determined to have been domestic, apparently the act of a delusional individual, thereby negating any greater recognition by Americans of the need for better systems of terrorism prevention. This was, however, the third large terrorist attack on American soil in a period of three years, and as such it helped to build the steam behind the development of a Terrorism Annex to the Federal Response Plan. The criminal element of a terrorist attack, which had confounded previous responses to terrorism where the FRP had been invoked, was recognized as a component that needed special consideration (as it had not been addressed in the original FRP). This annex appended the original response document by dictating the coordination of the various Federal agencies likely to respond to future terrorist events (including the events of September 11th.)

The Three Commissions

In 1998, President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich petitioned Congress to form a 14-member panel called the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century (USCNS/21), also known as the Hart-Rudman Commission, to make strategic recommendations on how the U.S. Government could ensure the nation’s security in the coming years. The independent panel, created by Congress, was tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of American security with the goal of designing a national security strategy.

The Commission’s report, “Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change,” dated January 31, 2001, recommended the creation of a new independent National Homeland Security Agency (NHSA) with responsibility for planning, coordinating, and integrating various U.S. Government activities involved in homeland security. This agency would be built upon the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, and U.S. Border Patrol (now part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) within the DHS) transferred into it. NHSA would assume responsibility for the safety of the American people as well as oversee the protection of critical infrastructure, including information technology. Obviously, the Commission’s recommendations were not heeded before 2001, but many of its findings would later be integrated into the justification and legislation behind the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Two other commissions were established to study the terrorist threat during these years: The Gilmore Commission and the Bremer Commission. The Gilmore Commission, also known as the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, produced a series of annual reports beginning in 1999 (with the final report released in 2003). Each of these reports presented a growing base of knowledge concerning the WMD risk faced by the United States, and a recommended course of action required to counter that risk.

The Bremer Commission, also known as the National Commission on Terrorism, addressed the issue of the international terrorist threat. The commission was mandated by Congress to evaluate the nation’s laws, policies, and practices for preventing terrorism, and for punishing those responsible for terrorist events. Its members drafted a report titled “Countering the Changing Threat of International Terrorism.” This report, issued in the year 2000, arrived at the following conclusions:

• International terrorism poses an increasingly dangerous and difficult threat to America • Countering the growing danger of the terrorist threat requires significantly stepping up U.S. efforts • Priority one is to prevent terrorist attacks. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement communities must use the full scope of their authority to collect intelligence regarding terrorist plans and methods • U.S. policies must firmly target all states that support terrorists • Private sources of financial and logistical support for terrorists must be subjected to the full force and sweep of U.S. and international laws • A terrorist attack involving a biological agent, deadly chemicals, or nuclear or radiological material, even if it succeeds only partially, could profoundly affect the entire nation. The government must do more to prepare for such an event • The President and Congress should reform the system for reviewing and funding departmental counterterrorism programs to ensure that the activities and programs of various agencies are part of a comprehensive plan

Each of these conclusions and recommendations would take on great new meaning in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, and would guide many of the changes incorporated into the Homeland Security Act of 2002. However, in the absence of a greater recognition of a terrorist threat within the borders of the United States, no major programs were initiated to combat the growing risk.

Presidential Decision Directives 62 & 63

As these commissions were conducting their research, President Clinton was addressing other recognized and immediate needs through the passage of several Presidential Decision Directives (PDDs). Terrorist attacks continued to occur throughout the world, aimed at US Government, Military, and private interests. In 1996, terrorists carried out a suicide bombing at the US Military (Khobar Towers) barracks in Saudi Arabia, and in 1998, simultaneous bombings were carried out at the U.S. diplomatic missions in Kenya and Tanzania.

In May of 1998, President Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 62 (PDD-62): Combating Terrorism, which called for the establishment of the Office of the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counterterrorism. The directive’s primary goal was to create a new and more systematic approach to fighting the terrorist threat. PDD-62 reinforced the mission of many U.S. agencies involved in wide array of counterterrorism activities. The new National Coordinator was tasked with overseeing a broad variety of relevant policies and programs including counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection, Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD) preparedness and consequence management.

Soon after this directive, President Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 63 (PDD-63): Protecting America’s Critical Infrastructure. This directive tasked all of the departments of the Federal Government with assessing the vulnerabilities of their cyber and physical infrastructures, and to work to reduce their exposure to new and existing threats.

Attorney General’s Five-Year Interagency Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan

In December 1998, as mandated by Congress, the Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), began a coordinated project with other agencies to develop the Attorney General’s Five-Year Interagency Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan. The FBI emerged as the Federal Government's principal agency for responding to and investigating terrorism. Congress had intended the plan to serve as a baseline for the coordination of a national strategy and operational capabilities to combat terrorism. This plan represented a substantial interagency effort, including goals, objectives, performance indicators and recommended specific agency actions to help resolve interagency problems. It clearly did not, however, tear down the walls that prevented interagency sharing of information, as evidenced by the failures that resulted in the success of the 9/11 terrorists.

General Accounting Office (GAO) Findings

The Department of Justice (DOJ) asserted that the Attorney General’s Five-Year Interagency Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan, considered together with related PDDs as described above, represented a comprehensive national strategy to address the terrorist threat. However, after a thorough review, the General Accounting Office (GAO), Congress’s investigative arm, concluded that additional work remained, that would build upon the progress that the plan represented. The GAO contended that a comprehensive national security strategy was lacking.

In the GAO report GAO-01-55T: ‘Combating Terrorism: Comments on Counterterrorism Leadership and National Strategy,’ released March 27, 2001, it is stated that the DOJ plan did not have measurable outcomes and suggested, for example, it should include goals that improve state and local response capabilities. The report argued that without a clearly defined national strategy, the nation would continue to miss opportunities to focus and shape counterterrorism programs to meet the impending threat. It also made the criticism that the DOJ plan lacked a coherent framework to develop and evaluate budget requirements for combating terrorism since there was no signal focal point. The report claimed that no single entity was acting as the Federal Government’s top official accountable to both the President and Congress for the terrorism hazard, and that fragmentation existed in both coordination of domestic preparedness programs and in efforts to develop a national strategy.

The GAO released another report in early September of 2001 (GAO-01-822) entitled ‘Combating Terrorism: Selected Challenges and Related Recommendations,’ which it finalized in the last days before the terrorist attacks occurred in Washington and New York. The report stated that the Federal Government was ill-equipped and unprepared to counter a major terrorist attack, claiming also that from sharing intelligence to coordinating a response, the government had failed to put in place an effective critical infrastructure system. It further stated that,

“Federal efforts to develop a national strategy to combat terrorism...have progressed, but key challenges remain. The initial step toward developing a national strategy is to conduct a national threat and risk the national level (agencies) have not completed assessments of the most likely weapon-of-mass destruction agents and other terrorist threats...”

To prevent terrorist attacks, the GAO recommended:

• A national strategy to combat terrorism and computer-based attacks • Better protection for the nation's infrastructure • A single focal point to oversee coordination of Federal programs • Completing a threat assessment on likely WMD and other weapons that might be used by terrorists • Revising the Attorney General’s Five-Year Interagency Counterterrorism and Technology Crime Plan to better serve as a national strategy • Coordinating research and development to combat terrorism

In a later report regarding Homeland Security, (GAO-02-610) ‘Key Elements to Unify Efforts Are Underway but Uncertainty Remains,’ the GAO called for more of the same in terms of needing central leadership and an overarching strategy that identifies goals and objectives, priorities, measurable outcomes, and state and local government roles in combating terrorism since the efforts of more than 40 federal entities and numerous state and local governments were still fragmented. It also called for the term Homeland Security to be defined properly since to date it had not.

September 11, 2001

The attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, could arguably be considered the first national disaster event, outside of wartime, in the history of the United States. It is the first disaster in this country that impacted all Americans, leaving all citizens and communities with an unrelenting sense of vulnerability. The economic consequences of these attacks, felt in all parts of our country and, in fact, around the world, make this disaster event truly global in scope.

The attacks involved the hijacking of 4 commercial airliners by 19 trained terrorists. Three of the four planes were flown into major American landmarks – the two World Trade Center Twin Towers, and the headquarters of the United States military. The fourth, whose target may never be conclusively known, was prevented from reaching its target by passengers on the plane that overpowered its four terrorist hijackers. Almost 3,000 people were killed, and billions of dollars in property damage resulted. The full economic impacts, which include everything from lost revenues to increased spending on terrorism preparedness, may never be known.

This was not a simple act, but one that required years of surveillance, funding, training, intelligence gathering, practice, and breaching of United States immigration law. There were many instances during this time, as were evidenced in the report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) (created to investigate the causes of the 9/11 attacks and means to prevent similar attacks from occurring the future), where individual agencies involved in counter-terrorist activities recognized one or more of these activities. However, insufficient coordination between the agencies prevented the Federal Government system of preventing terrorist attacks from piecing together the larger picture of what exactly was occurring, and as such, the terrorists were ultimately successful in their mission.

Immediate Response to the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks, as the search and rescue teams were still sifting through the debris and wreckage for survivors in New York and in Virginia, the Federal Government was analyzing what had just happened and what it could quickly do to begin the process of ensuring such attacks could not be repeated. It was recognized that nothing too substantial could take place void of longer-term study and Congressional review, but the circumstances mandated that real changes begin without delay.

On September 20th, 2001, just 9 days after the attacks, President George W. Bush announced that there would be established an Office of Homeland Security, by Executive Order, within the White House. Directing this office would be Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. Ridge was given no real staff to manage, and the funding he would have at his disposal was minimal. The actual order, catalogued as Executive Order 13228, was given on October 8th, 2001. In addition to creating the Office of Homeland Security, this order created the Homeland Security Council, "to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks."

Four days later, on September 24th, 2001, President Bush announced that he would be seeking passage of an Act entitled “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”, which would become better known as the Patriot Act of 2001. This Act, which introduced a large number of controversial legislative changes in order to significantly increase the surveillance, and investigative powers of law enforcement agencies in the United States (as it states) to “ …deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world”, was signed into law by the President on October 26th after very little deliberation in Congress.

On October 29th, President Bush issued the first of many Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs), which were PDDs specifically designed to “record and communicate presidential decisions about the homeland security policies of the United States” (HSPD-1, 2001). The following is a list of several of the HSPDs, their stated purposes, and their dates of issuance:

• HSPD-1: Organization and Operation of the Homeland Security Council – October 29, 2001 • HSPD-2: Combating Terrorism Through Immigration Policies – October 29, 2001 • HSPD-3: Creation of the Homeland Security Advisory System – March 11, 2002 • HSPD-4: National Strategy to Combat WMDs – September 17, 2002 • HSPD-5: Management of Domestic Incidents (Creation of a National Incident Management System (NIMS) – February 28, 2003 • HSPD-6: Integration and Use of Screening Information (Creation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC)) – September 16, 2003 • HSPD-7: Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and Protection – December 17, 2003 • HSPD-8: Strengthen National Preparedness ("establish policies to strengthen the preparedness of the United States to prevent and respond to threatened or actual domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies by requiring a national domestic all-hazards preparedness goal, establishing mechanisms for improved delivery of Federal preparedness assistance to State and local governments, and outlining actions to strengthen preparedness capabilities of Federal, State, and local entities.") – December 17, 2003 • HSPD-9: Defense of US Agriculture and Food – February 3, 2004 • HSPD-10: Defense from Biological Weapons – April 28, 2004 • HSPD-11: Comprehensive Terrorist Screening Procedures – August 27, 2004 • HSPD-13: Maritime Security – December 21, 2004

On March 21st, 2002, President Bush signed Executive Order 13260 Establishing the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council (PHSAC) and Senior Advisory Committees for Homeland Security.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002

On November 25, 2002, President Bush signed into law the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (HS Act) (Public Law 107-296), and announced that former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge would become Secretary of a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be created through this legislation. This act, which authorized the greatest federal government reorganization since President Harry Truman joined the various branches of the armed forces under the Department of Defense, was charged with a three-fold mission of protecting the United States from further terrorist attacks, reducing the nation’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimizing the damage from potential terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

The sweeping reorganization into the new Department, which officially opened its doors on January 24, 2003, joined together over 179,000 federal employees from twenty-two existing federal agencies under a single, Cabinet-level organization. The legislation also included several changes within other federal agencies that were only remotely affiliated with DHS.

The creation of DHS was the culmination of an evolutionary legislative process. The Department was clearly the result of the criticism that increased federal intelligence inter-agency cooperation could have prevented the September 11th terrorist attacks. The White House and Congress had both recognized that as Director of the Office of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge did not have a large enough staff or budget to succeed, and thus they began the deliberations to create what is now a Cabinet-level Department fusing many of the security-related agencies that were dispersed throughout the Federal Government before 9/11.

For several months during the second-half of 2002, Congress jockeyed between different versions of the Homeland Security bill in an effort to establish legislation that was passable yet effective. Lawmakers were particularly mired on the issue of the rights of employees – an issue that prolonged the legal process considerably. Furthermore, efforts to incorporate many of the intelligence-gathering and investigative law enforcement agencies, namely the National Security Agency (NSA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) into the legislation failed.

Despite these delays and setbacks, after the 2002 Midterm elections, the Republican seats gained in both the House and Senate gave the President the leverage he needed to pass the bill without further deliberation (H.R., 299-121 on November 13, 2002; Senate, 90-9 on November 19, 2002). While the passage of this act represented a significant milestone, the implementation phase presented a tremendous challenge; a concern expressed by several leaders from the agencies that were to be absorbed. On November 25, 2002, President Bush submitted his Reorganization Plan (as required by the legislation), which mapped out the schedule, methodology, and budget for the monumental task.

Beginning March 1, 2003, almost all of the federal agencies named in the act began their move, whether literally or symbolically, into the new Department. Those remaining followed on June 1, 2003, with all incidental transfers completed by September 1, 2003. While a handful of these agencies remained intact after the move, most were fully incorporated into one of four new directorates; Border and Transportation Security (BTS), Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP), Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R), and Science and Technology (S&T). A fifth directorate, Management, incorporated parts of the existing administrative and support offices within the merged Agencies.

Secretary Ridge was given exactly one year to develop a comprehensive structural framework for DHS, and to name new leadership for all five directorates and other offices created under the legislation. Astonishingly, he and his team were able to meet these goals (though, as would be expected, many changes have been made to this original framework).

In addition to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the HS Act made several changes to other federal agencies and their programs, and created several new programs. A list of the most significant is presented below:

• Established a National Homeland Security Council within the Executive Office of the President, which assesses U.S. objectives, commitments, and risks in the interest of Homeland Security, oversees and reviews Federal homeland security policies, and makes recommendations to the President. • Transferred the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Justice (DOJ). • Explicitly prohibits both the creation of a national ID card and the proposed Citizen Corps “Terrorism Information and Prevention System” (Operation TIPS, which encouraged transportation workers, postal workers, and public utility employees to identify and report suspicious activities linked to terrorism and crime.) The Act also reaffirmed the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the Armed Forces in law enforcement activities except under Constitutional or Congressional authority (the Coast Guard is exempt from this Act). • The “Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act”, incorporated into the HS Act, allowed pilots to defend aircraft cockpits with firearms or other ‘less-than-lethal weapons’ against acts of criminal violence or air piracy, and provides anti-terrorism training to flight crews. • The Critical Infrastructure Information Act (2002), incorporated in the HS Act, exempts certain components of critical infrastructure from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations. • The “Johnny Michael Spann Patriot Trusts,” created to provide support for surviving spouses, children, or dependent parents, grandparents, or siblings of various federal employees who die in the line of duty as result of terrorist attacks, military operations, intelligence operations, or law enforcements operations.

DHS “6-Point Agenda” Reorganization Plan

In July of 2005, Secretary Chertoff announced that he would be making significant organizational changes to the Department. These changes were proposed “to ensure that the Department’s policies, operations, and structures are aligned in the best way to address the potential threats – both present and future – that face our nation” (DHS, 2005). These changes began to take effect in late 2005, and are reflected in the organizational chart provided as Image 7.2.1.

DHS Subcomponents and Agencies

The Department of Homeland Security is a massive agency, with many responsibilities in a staggeringly-wide range of program areas, approximately 179.000 employees, a massive multi-billion dollar budget, and an ambitious list of tasks and goals. The Department leverages resources within federal, state, and local governments, coordinating the transition of multiple agencies and programs into a single, integrated agency focused on protecting the American people and their homeland. More than 87,000 different governmental jurisdictions at the federal, state, and local level have homeland security responsibilities.

The following list comprises of the major components that make up the Department of Homeland Security (See Images 7.2.1 – 7.2.3):

Office of the Secretary

The Office of the Secretary oversees activities with other Federal, State, local, and private entities as part of a collaborative effort to strengthen our borders, provide for intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection, improve the use of science and technology to counter weapons of mass destruction, and to create a comprehensive response and recovery system. Within the Office of the Secretary there are multiple offices that contribute to the overall Homeland Security mission.

• Office of the Chief Privacy Officer - works to minimize the impact on the individual’s privacy, particularly the individual’s personal information and dignity, while achieving the mission of the Department of Homeland Security. • Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties - provides legal and policy advice to Department leadership on civil rights and civil liberties issues, investigates and resolves complaints, and provides leadership to Equal Employment Opportunity Programs. • Office of the Inspector General - is responsible for conducting and supervising audits, investigations, and inspections relating to the programs and operations of the Department, recommending ways for the Department to carry out its responsibilities in the most effective, efficient, and economical manner possible. • The Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman - provides recommendations for resolving individual and employer problems with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in order to ensure national security and the integrity of the legal immigration system, increase efficiencies in administering citizenship and immigration services, and improve customer service.

Other offices within the Office of the Secretary include:

• Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs • Office of the General Counsel • Office of Counter Narcotics • Office of Public Affairs

Directorates and Other Operational Offices

Preparedness Directorate

The Preparedness Directorate works with state, local, and private sector partners to identify threats, determine vulnerabilities, and target resources where risk is greatest, thereby safeguarding our borders, seaports, bridges and highways, and critical information systems. This directorate is designed to bolster the nation’s security through the application of a system of preparedness measures based on risk assessment and management. Working with state, local, and private sector partners, the Preparedness Directorate identifies threats, determines vulnerabilities, and targets resources where risk is greatest. Through grants and training on both national and local levels, the directorate fosters a layered system of protective measures to safeguard borders, seaports, bridges and highways, and critical information systems. It is designed to:

• Consolidate preparedness assets across DHS • Facilitate grants and oversee nationwide preparedness efforts by supporting first responder training, citizen awareness, public health, infrastructure and cyber security, and ensure proper steps are taken to protect high-risk targets • Focus on cyber security and telecommunications • Address threats to our nation’s public health through the Chief Medical Officer, who coordinates preparedness efforts against biological attacks.

The components of the Preparedness Directorate include:

• Chief Medical Officer - has primary responsibility for working with other Federal agencies in completing comprehensive plans for executing our responsibilities to prevent and mitigate cyber based attacks. • Cyber and Telecommunications - has primary responsibility for working with other Federal agencies in completing comprehensive plans for executing our responsibilities to prevent and mitigate biologically based attacks. • Fire Administration - reduces deaths and economic losses from fires and related emergencies through public education, training for fire protection personnel and enhanced technology. • Grants and Training - assists states, local communities, regional authorities, and tribal jurisdictions to prevent, deter, and respond to terrorist and other threats to national security through funding, training, and exercises designed to increase preparedness and responsiveness. • Infrastructure Protection - identifies and assesses current and future threats to the nation’s physical and informational infrastructure, issuing timely warnings to prevent damage to the infrastructure that supports our community and economic life. • Office of National Capital Region Coordination - oversees and coordinates Federal programs for and relationships with the National Capital Region to ensure adequate planning, information sharing, training, and execution of domestic preparedness activities.

Science and Technology Directorate

The Science and Technology Directorate is the primary research and development arm of the Department. It provides federal, state and local officials with the technology and capabilities to protect the homeland.

The strategic objectives of the Directorate include:

• Developing and deploying state-of-the art, high-performance, low-operating-cost systems to prevent, detect, and mitigate the consequences of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive attacks; • Developing equipment, protocols, and training procedures for response to and recovery from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive attacks; • Enhancing the technical capabilities of the Department’s operational elements and other Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies to fulfill their homeland security related missions; • Developing methods and capabilities to test and assess threats and vulnerabilities, and prevent technology surprise and anticipate emerging threats; • Developing technical standards and establish certified laboratories to evaluate homeland security and emergency responder technologies, and evaluate technologies for SAFETY Act certification; and • Supporting U.S. leadership in science and technology.

The directorate is led by an Under Secretary (Charles McQueary), with four primary offices responsible for managing different categories of technology.

The Policy Directorate

The Policy Directorate is the primary policy formulation and coordination component for the Department of Homeland Security. It provides a centralized, coordinated focus to the development of Department-wide, long-range planning to protect the United States.

This Directorate was created to do the following: • Coordinate policies, regulations, and other initiatives across DHS • Ensure consistency of policy and regulatory development across DHS • Perform long-range, strategic policy planning • Assume the policy coordination functions previously performed by the Border and Transportation Security (BTS) Directorate

The Policy Directorate is made up of the following components:

• Office of Policy - the primary office within the Policy Directorate responsible for the formulation and coordination of Department-wide policies designed to protect the United States. • Office of Immigration Statistics - contributes to the formulation of Department policies through the development, analysis, and dissemination of statistical information on immigration in the United States. • Office of International Affairs - is responsible for coordinating the development of Department policies that have implications for the international community in accordance with U.S. foreign policy. • Office of the Private Sector - fosters communication between the private sector and the Department and provides guidance to the Secretary on proposed policies and regulations and their potential impact on private sector organizations and the nation’s economic security. • Office of Strategic Planning - provides a central focus for the formulation of Department-wide, long-range planning and strategic goals to safeguard the homeland.

Management Directorate

The Management Directorate is responsible for Department budgets and appropriations, expenditure of funds, accounting and finance, procurement; human resources, information technology systems, facilities and equipment, and the identification and tracking of performance measurements.

Office of Intelligence and Analysis

The Office of Intelligence and Analysis is responsible for using information and intelligence from multiple sources to identify and assess current and future threats to the United States.

Office of Operations Coordination

The Office of Operations Coordination is responsible for monitoring the security of the United States on a daily basis and coordinating activities within the Department and with Governors, Homeland Security Advisors, law enforcement partners, and critical infrastructure operators in all 50 States and more than 50 major urban areas nationwide.

Through its Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC), this Office provides real-time situational awareness and monitoring of the homeland, coordinates incidents and response activities, and, in conjunction with the DHS Office of Information Analysis, issues advisories and bulletins concerning threats to homeland security, as well as specific protective measures.

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office

The Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) was established to improve the Nation’s capability to detect and report unauthorized attempts to import, possess, store, develop, or transport nuclear or radiological material for use against the Nation, and to further enhance this capability over time. The strategic objectives of the DNDO include:

• Develop the global detection architecture and ensure linkages across Federal, State, territorial, tribal and local agencies. • Conduct aggressive evolutionary and transformational research and development programs to improve probability of detection by integrating and deploying current technologies and improving those capabilities over time. • Enhance the nuclear detection efforts of Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and the private sector to ensure a coordinated response. • Establish standards, response protocols and training across the Federal, State, territorial, tribal, and local levels to ensure that detection leads to timely response actions. • Enhance the effective sharing and use of nuclear detection-related information and intelligence. • Maintain continuous awareness by analyzing information from all mission-related detection systems.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is tasked with preparing the nation for hazards, managing Federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, and administering the National Flood Insurance Program.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protects the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for protecting the nation’s borders in order to prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States, while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for identifying and shutting down vulnerabilities in the nation’s border, economic, transportation and infrastructure security.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center provides career-long training to law enforcement professionals to help them fulfill their responsibilities safely and proficiently. It is located in New Mexico.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is responsible for the administration of immigration and naturalization adjudication functions and establishing immigration services policies and priorities.

The U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard protects the public, the environment, and U.S. economic interests—in the nation’s ports and waterways, along the coast, on international waters, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.

The U.S. Secret Service

The U.S. Secret Service protects the President and other high-level officials and investigates counterfeiting and other financial crimes, including financial institution fraud, identity theft, computer fraud; and computer-based attacks on our nation’s financial, banking, and telecommunications infrastructure.

Advisory Panels and Committees

• Homeland Security Advisory Council - provides advice and recommendations to the Secretary on matters related to homeland security. The Council is comprised of leaders from state and local government, first responder communities, the private sector, and academia. • National Infrastructure Advisory Council - provides advice to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the President on the security of information systems for the public and private institutions that constitute the critical infrastructure of our Nation’s economy. • Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities - was established to ensure that the Federal government appropriately supports safety and security for individuals with disabilities in disaster situations.

Strategic Goals of the Department of Homeland Security

On February 24, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security released its strategic plan, entitled “Securing Our Homeland.” This document outlined the reasoning behind the creation of the Department, as well as its goals and objectives. These goals and objectives are summarized below:

Strategic Goal 1: Awareness - Identify and understand threats, assess vulnerabilities, determine potential impacts and disseminate timely information to our homeland security partners and the American public.

Objective 1.1 - Gather and fuse all terrorism related intelligence; analyze, and coordinate access to information related to potential terrorist or other threats. Objective 1.2 - Identify and assess the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and key assets. Objective 1.3 - Develop timely, actionable and valuable information based on intelligence analysis and vulnerability assessments. Objective 1.4 - Ensure quick and accurate dissemination of relevant intelligence information to homeland security partners, including the public.

Strategic Goal 2: Prevention - Detect, deter and mitigate threats to our homeland.

Objective 2.1 - Secure our borders against terrorists, means of terrorism, illegal drugs and other illegal activity. Objective 2.2 - Enforce trade and immigration laws. Objective 2.3 - Provide operational end users with the technology and capabilities to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, means of terrorism and other illegal activities. Objective 2.4 - Ensure national and international policy, law enforcement and other actions to prepare for and prevent terrorism are coordinated. Objective 2.5 Strengthen the security of the Nation’s transportation systems. Objective 2.6 - Ensure the security and integrity of the immigration system.

Strategic Goal 3: Protection - Safeguard our people and their freedoms, critical infrastructure, property and the economy of our nation from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies.

Objective 3.1 - Protect the public from acts of terrorism and other illegal activities. Objective 3.2 - Reduce infrastructure vulnerability from acts of terrorism. Objective 3.3 - Protect against financial and electronic crimes, counterfeit currency, illegal bulk currency movement and identity theft. Objective 3.4 - Secure the physical safety of the President, Vice President, visiting world leaders and other protectees. Objective 3.5 - Ensure the continuity of government operations and essential functions in the event of crisis or disaster. Objective 3.6 - Protect the marine environment and living marine resources. Objective 3.7 - Strengthen nationwide preparedness and mitigation against acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies.

Strategic Goal 4: Response - Lead, manage and coordinate the national response to acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies.

Objective 4.1 - Reduce the loss of life and property by strengthening nationwide response readiness. Objective 4.2 - Provide scalable and robust all-hazard response capability. Objective 4.3 - Provide search and rescue services to people and property in distress.

Strategic Goal 5: Recovery - Lead national, state, local and private sector efforts to restore services and rebuild communities after acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies.

Objective 5.1 - Strengthen nationwide recovery plans and capabilities. Objective 5.2 - Provide scalable and robust all-hazard recovery assistance.

(Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security Strategic Plan)


The important question that Congress, the General Accounting Office, and the American people will continue to address is whether or not this legislation has addressed the terrorist hazard that threatens American citizens within the nation’s borders. The following summarizes several of the individual performance measures by which that question may ultimately be addressed.

Sharing of Intelligence – This issue has yet to be settled to a degree that all involved parties are satisfied with the outcome. The TTIC, which resides not in DHS but in the FBI, has already come under harsh criticism for having insufficient staff. Additionally, the rules by which information is shared are still considered too restrictive for the maximum benefit of such sharing between agencies to be realized. However, the turf wars that created compartmentalization of information that the TTIC has tried to reduce formed over decades, and as such, it should be expected that breaking down such barrier s will require several years. The greatest challenge, which still has a long way to go, is how effectively this information will be shared with the State and local first responders.

First Responder Resources and Capabilities – Should a terrorist attack happen again, which it likely will, local first responders are assuredly going to be the first on the scene. These local officials will have the greatest opportunity to save lives and manage the disaster that follows. Local agencies, after all, are expected to assume that they will be managing the disaster for up to 72 hours before Federal help arrives. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 attempts to address the training, equipment, and funding shortfalls that have been identified at the local levels, but problems remain. Even the formulas by which grant money is distributed to the states has been a point of contention since the Department first began (between risk-based or population-based methods of determination). Recent studies show that first responders, for the most part, are not ready to manage a major terrorist attack, especially if that attack involves biological or chemical warfare agents. However, billions of dollars in funding for equipment and training have been disbursed, and it is likely that time will help these local agencies to adjust to the new hazards they face.

The All-Hazards Approach – The Department of Homeland Security was created in response to a terrorist attack, but its mission includes the preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery from all hazards – including natural and technological. It would seem that terrorism was not only the main focus, but the only focus, based upon the actions that have been taken by the department. The billions of dollars in first responder funding that have been disbursed are a perfect example of this – they are based upon terrorism risk, not an all-hazards risk assessment. When hurricanes and earthquakes strike, it is now DHS that responds, through FEMA. How effectively they do so will depend upon the ability of the Department’s leadership to keep the all-hazards approach in mind as they move DHS forward through its strategic goals.

Preparedness of Individuals – A prepared nation depends upon the preparedness of individuals. If another terrorist attack were to occur, the actions of regular citizens will greatly affect the ultimate outcome of the event. Also, citizens who are adequately prepared could serve to prevent a terrorist attack by recognizing the hazard and reporting that information to authorities. DHS has addressed this need through their public preparedness website The true effectiveness has thankfully not been tested, as there have not been any major terrorist attacks in the United States since the creation of the Department. It is likely, however, that the day will eventually come when individual preparedness is called upon.

The Homeland Security Alert System – This five-color coded alert system, created through HSPD-3, has come under considerable attack during its brief years of existence. Beyond the Federal Government, it has found little positive applicability, especially by local first responders and private citizens. Recent legislation gives the impression that this system may be abandoned, pending consideration by Congress. If this happens, a new system will need to be developed to inform citizens of the terrorist risk, or else a major DHS objective will remain unfulfilled. This area clearly has a long way to go.

Funding – The Department of Homeland Security depends upon a considerable amount of funding – generally between $35- and $40 billion dollars each year. This is not surprising considering the number of agencies that were absorbed, and likewise, the number of Federal officials. However, with emerging reports of unwise spending practices and the ineffectiveness of certain programs, there remains the risk of decreased future funding. Additionally, if years go by without any more terrorist attacks, it may be hard to continue pulling money from other social programs to pay for a program that fewer and fewer people will feel is entirely necessary. But, there are currently no signs that DHS funding levels will decrease in the near future.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 was a clear case of legislation drafted to address an immediate emergency management need. Presumably, the drafters of this legislation recognized the importance of considering all four phases of emergency management – preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery. Director Ridge has since been replaced by Federal Judge Michael Chertoff, whose first significant project as director included a full assessment of the effectiveness of each DHS component. The report that results his findings may answer many of the questions posed above. However, as experience taught us after the creation of the Department of Defense, these things take time.


Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff Announces Six Department of Homeland Security. 2005. -Point Agenda for Department of Homeland Security. DHS Press Release. July 13.

Image 7.2.1: DHS Organizational Chart


Image 7.2.2: Policy Directorate



Image 7.2.3: Preparedness Directorate


Sidebar 7.2.1: Summary of the Homeland Security Act of 2002

The full text of this Act is available at

Title I: Establishes a Department of Homeland Security (DHS), headed by the Secretary of Homeland Security. • Primary Mission (full text): Prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; Reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; Minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States; Carry out all functions of entities transferred to the Department, including by acting as a focal point regarding natural and manmade crises and emergency planning; Ensure that the functions of the agencies and subdivisions within the Department that are not related directly to securing the homeland are not diminished or neglected except by a specific explicit Act of Congress; Ensure that the overall economic security of the United States is not diminished by efforts, activities, and programs aimed at securing the homeland; and Monitor connections between illegal drug trafficking and terrorism, coordinate efforts to sever such connections, and otherwise contribute to efforts to interdict illegal drug trafficking.

Title II: Establishes in DHS the Directorate for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, headed by an Under Secretary for Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. • Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002 - Exempts from the Freedom of Information Act and other Federal and State disclosure requirements critical infrastructure information voluntarily submitted to a covered Federal agency for its use regarding the security of critical infrastructure and protected systems, analysis, warning, interdependency study, recovery, reconstitution, or other informational purpose. • Requires the Secretary to: (1) establish procedures for sharing information; and (2) appoint a senior Privacy Officer to assume primary responsibility for privacy policy. • Cyber Security Enhancement Act of 2002 - Directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to amend Federal sentencing guidelines and otherwise address crimes involving fraud in connection with computers and access to protected information, protected computers or restricted data in interstate or foreign commerce or involving a computer used by or for the Federal Government. Exempts from criminal penalties any emergency disclosures to a governmental entity by an electronic communication service and specified disclosures made in good faith. • Abolishes the Office of Science and Technology of the National Institute of Justice and transfers its functions to an Office of Science and Technology hereby established within the Department of Justice. • Requires the Director of the Office to operate and support National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Centers.

Title III: Establishes in DHS: (1) a Directorate of Science and Technology, headed by an Under Secretary for Science and Technology; (2) a Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency; (3) a Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee; (4) a Homeland Security Institute; (5) technology clearing house. Within one year of enactment, the Secretary is to establish a coordinated, university-based center or centers to enhance homeland security. • Transfers to DHS the programs of the DOE regarding chemical and biological national security, nuclear smuggling, nuclear assessment, life science programs on microbial pathogens, and the advanced scientific computing research program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. • Transfers to DHS from DoD the National Bio-Weapons Defense Analysis Center. • Authorizes the Secretary under certain circumstances to make the U.S. Government assume all civil liability for anyone suffering personal injury or death by contracting cowpox (vaccinia) from the administration of smallpox vaccine in response to a bioterrorist incident or potential public health emergency. • DHS may establish or contract with one or more federally funded research and development centers to provide independent analysis or to carry out other responsibilities.

Title IV: Establishes in DHS: (1) a Directorate of Border and Transportation Security, headed by an Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security; and (2) the U.S. Customs Service (transferred from the Department of the Treasury, but with certain customs revenue functions remaining with the Secretary of the Treasury). • Transfers to DHS certain agricultural inspection functions of the Department of Agriculture. • Maintains the Transportation Security Administration, transferred to DHS from the Department of Transportation, as a distinct entity. • Vests in the Secretary of DHS all authority relating to U.S. consular officials to grant or refuse visas for entry into the Unite States. • Establishes in DHS an Office for Domestic Preparedness to prepare the United States for acts of terrorism. • Transfers to Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security from the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization (INS Commissioner) all functions performed under the Border Patrol, detention and removal, intelligence, investigations, and inspections programs. • Establishes in DHS: (1) a Bureau of Border Security, headed by an Assistant Secretary; (2) a Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, headed by a Director; and (3) a Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman. • Transfers from the INS Commissioner to the Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) functions under Federal immigration law with respect to the care of unaccompanied alien children. • Abolishes the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of the Department of Justice. • Authorizes the Attorney General and the Secretary to: (1) make voluntary separation incentive payments to employees of the INS, the DHS Bureau of Border Security, and the DHS Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services; and (2) conduct a demonstration project to determine whether changes in the policies or procedures relating to methods for disciplining employees would result in improved personnel management. • Establishes within the Office of Deputy DHS Secretary a Director of Shared Services to coordinate resources for the Bureau of Border Security and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Title V: Establishes in DHS a Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response, headed by an Under Secretary, to manage the Federal Government’s response to terrorists or major disasters. This includes developing comprehensive programs for inter-operative communications technology and helping ensure that emergency response providers acquire such technology. • Transferred to DHS includes FEMA, NOAA’s Integrated Hazard Information System, The FBI’s National Domestic Preparedness Office, DOJ’s Domestic Emergency Support Teams, and several offices from HHS. • Declares that, at the direction of the DHS Secretary (in connection with an actual or threatened terrorist attack, major disaster, or other emergency in the United States), the Nuclear Incident Response Team shall operate as an organizational unit of DHS.

Title VI: Treatment of Charitable Trusts for Members of the Armed Forces of the United States and Other Governmental Organizations. Provides for Johnny Michael Spann Patriot Trusts for surviving spouses, children, or dependent parents, grandparents, or siblings of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, certain personnel (including contractors) of elements of the intelligence community, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees, and Federal officers, employees, or contract employees whose deaths occur in the line of duty and arise out of terrorist attacks, military operations, intelligence operations, or law enforcement operations or accidents connected with activities occurring after September 11, 2001, and related to domestic or foreign efforts to curb international terrorism.

Title VII: Specifies the duties of the DHS Under Secretary for Management. • Requires the Secretary to appoint an Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties to assess information alleging abuses of civil rights, civil liberties, and racial and ethnic profiling by DHS employees and officials.

Title VIII: Coordination With Non-Federal Entities; Inspector General; United States Secret Service; Coast Guard; General Provisions. Establishes within the Office of the DHS Secretary an Office for State and Local Government Coordination to oversee and coordinate departmental programs for and relationships with State and local governments. • Subjects the DHS Inspector General to the Secretary's authority with respect to audits or investigations, or issuance of subpoenas that require access to sensitive information concerning specified matters the disclosure of which would constitute a serious threat to national security. Specifies the law enforcement powers of Inspector General agents. • Transfers the United States Secret Service to DHS. • Prohibits the Secretary from entering into contracts with any foreign incorporated entity treated as an inverted domestic corporation (corporate expatriate). • Authorizes the Secretary to establish a human resources management system for the organizational units of DHS. • Declares that no agency or agency subdivision transferred to DHS shall be excluded from coverage of Federal civil service labor-management relations law unless: (1) the agency's (or subdivision's) mission and responsibilities materially change; and (2) a majority of the employees within such agency (or subdivision) have as their primary duty intelligence, counterintelligence, or investigative work directly related to terrorism investigation. • Prescribes requirements, including expedited procedures, for procurements for defense against or recovery from terrorism or nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. • Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 or the SAFETY Act - Authorizes the Secretary to designate anti-terrorism technologies that qualify for protection under a prescribed system of risk management (including mandatory liability insurance). Creates a Federal cause of action for claims arising out of, relating to, or resulting from an act of terrorism when qualified anti-terrorism technologies have been deployed in defense against or response or recovery from such act and such claims result or may result in loss to the Seller. • Directs the Secretary to appoint a senior DHS counternarcotics officer to coordinate policy and operations within DHS and between it and other Federal agencies with respect to interdicting the entry of illegal drugs into the United States, and tracking and severing connections between illegal drug trafficking and terrorism. • Establishes within the Office of the Secretary an Office of International Affairs. • Prohibits all Federal activities to implement the proposed component program of the Citizen Corps known as Operation TIPS (Terrorism Information and Prevention System). • Establishes within the Office of the Secretary an Office for National Capital Region to oversee and coordinate Federal programs for and relationships with State, local, and regional authorities in the National Capital Region Coordination. • Requires DHS to comply with Federal laws protecting equal employment opportunity and providing whistleblower protections. • Authorizes the Secretary to establish a permanent Joint Interagency Homeland Security Task Force composed of representatives from military and civilian Federal agencies to anticipate terrorist threats and prevent terrorist attacks against the United States. • Declares the sense of Congress reaffirming the continued importance and applicability of the Posse Comitatus Act prohibiting the use of the Armed Forces as a posse comitatus to execute the law except as expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress. • Transfers the Coast Guard to DHS, but prohibits the Secretary from substantially or significantly reducing the missions of the Coast Guard or its capability to perform them, except as specified in subsequent Acts. • Homeland Security Information Sharing Act - Directs the President to prescribe and implement procedures under which relevant Federal agencies: (1) share relevant and appropriate homeland security information with other Federal agencies, including DHS, and appropriate State and local personnel; (2) identify and safeguard homeland security information that is sensitive but unclassified; and (3) to the extent such information is in classified form, determine whether, how, and to what extent to remove classified information, as appropriate, and with which such personnel it may be shared after such information is removed. • Amends the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to authorize the disclosure of grand jury information: (1) to personnel of a foreign government; and (2) to appropriate Federal, State, local, or foreign government officials to prevent or respond to specified hostile foreign power or domestic or international terrorist threats or actions, or foreign intelligence gathering activities. • Authorizes Federal investigative or law enforcement officers to share electronic, wire, and oral interception information with foreign investigative or law enforcement officers.

Title IX: Establishes within the Executive Office of the President a National Homeland Security Council to: (1) assess U.S. objectives, commitments, and risks in the interest of homeland security; (2) oversee and review Federal homeland security policies; and (3) make recommendations to the President.

Title X: Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 - Amends Federal law to revise requirements for the coordination of Federal information policy to require: (1) the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to oversee agency information security policies and practices; and (2) each Federal agency head to provide information security protections. Requires the Director to prescribe standards for Federal information systems based on proposals by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. • Renames the Computer System Security and Privacy Advisory Board the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board.

Title XI: Department of Justice Divisions -Transfers the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Justice. • Establishes within ATF an Explosives Training and Research Facility at Fort AP Hill, Fredericksburg, Virginia. • Safe Explosives Act - Amends the Federal criminal code to provide for $50 one-year limited permits to receive explosive materials no more than six times during the permit period, and only from licensees or permittees whose premises are located in the State where the limited permittee resides. Prohibits limited permit holders from transporting, shipping, or receiving explosive materials in interstate or foreign commerce. • Prohibits knowing distribution of explosive materials to or possession by: (1) certain illegal aliens; (2) persons with a dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces; or (3) anyone who has renounced U.S. citizenship. Authorizes the Secretary to grant relief from specified prohibitions, depending on the relief applicant's record and reputation. • Extends through calendar 2003 the authority of the Secretary of Transportation to declare an air carrier a victim of terrorism not liable for third party claims arising out of acts of terrorism.

Title XII: Airline War Risk Insurance Legislation: Grants the Secretary of Transportation authority to extend through calendar 2003 the termination date of any insurance policy issued to an air carrier.

Title XIII: Federal Workplace Improvement – Chief Human Capital Officers Act of 2002 - Amends Federal civil service law to require the heads of specified agencies to appoint or designate Agency Chief Human Capital Officers to set agency workforce development strategy. • Establishes a Chief Human Capital Officers Council. • Requires OMB to design a set of systems for assessing the management of human capital by Federal agencies. • Amends Federal civil service law to authorize OMB to establish alternative ranking and selection procedures for the competitive service hiring process. • Provides for permanent extension and revision of authorities for use of voluntary separation incentive pay and voluntary early retirement. • Amends Federal civil service law to repeal recertification requirements of the Senior Executive Service. Revises requirements with respect to employee academic degree training and the National Security Education Program.

Title XIV: Arming Pilots Against Terrorism Act - Amends Federal transportation law to require the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security to establish a program to deputize volunteer pilots of passenger air carriers as Federal law enforcement officers to defend the aircraft flight decks with firearms or less-than-lethal weapons against acts of criminal violence or air piracy (Federal flight deck officers). Provides for flight crew training. Creates tort claim liability against the U.S. Government under 28 USCZ 171 for purposes of actions brought against such officers for their acts or omissions.

Title XV: Transition – Requires the President to transmit a DHS reorganization plan to the appropriate congressional committees within 60 days after enactment of this Act.

Title XVI: Corrections to Existing Law Relating to Airline Transportation Security – Revises Federal transportation law with respect to airline transportation security. • Allows U.S. nationals, as well as U.S. citizens, to serve as airport screeners.

Title XVII: Conforming and technical amendments – Transfers to the DHS Secretary the mandate to protect Federal Government officers, employees, and property of certain security and law enforcement functions and authorities. • Establishes in the Department of Defense a National Bio-Weapons Defense Analysis Center. • Amends Federal transportation law to extend certain requirements with respect to railroad and hazardous materials (hazmat) safety to railroad and HAZMAT security.


Case 7.3: The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000: A Shift to Pre-Disaster Mitigation


Natural disasters in the United States have cost American citizens and the national economy a considerable amount. According to a US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report “federal disaster assistance costs have totaled more than $39 billion (in fiscal year 2001 dollars)” from 1990 to 2001 (GAO, 2002). This figure represents a five-fold increase over the twelve-year period preceding it – a rate greatly exceeding that of real inflation. And, as the years following 2001 have shown, the annual cost from disasters only continues to grow. Natural disasters have done more than cause significant physical and economic impacts – they have devastated whole communities throughout the United States. These growing costs, thankfully, have elicited a wider recognition of the fact that without mitigation plans to reduce the impacts of disasters – especially in those communities most frequently affected – that nation will only continue to suffer greater and greater losses. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 is a tangible representation of that recognition.

Several legislative actions in the past few decades have paved the way for state and local disaster mitigation activities. These precursors to modern mitigation activities were forward thinking, but short-sighted. From the Disaster Relief Act of 1950 to the Robert T. Stafford Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988, legislation on mitigation has primarily focused on post-disaster mitigation – addressing hazards primarily in areas where disasters have already occurred. While it is important to address these post-disaster mitigation needs, such as retrofitting buildings in newly-identified seismic zones following an earthquake on a previously-unknown fault, mitigation plans have traditionally been considered an after-action response activity. A classic emphasis of this philosophy is characterized in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) of the Stafford Act – which provides mitigation funding as a percentage of disaster relief funding. A highly-notable exception is the FEMA Project Impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities. But, although Project Impact was an initiative-based program, there existed no legislation authorizing funding for pre-disaster mitigation planning or programming.

In a reversal of trends, Congress enacted the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, which provided the necessary funding and authorized the initiative-based Project Impact into a pre-disaster mitigation planning program. This paper discusses how federal mitigation policies went from post-disaster mitigation policy towards pre-disaster mitigation policy. An analysis is provided to address the impact that pre-disaster mitigation benefits have had on state and local communities.

Background: Natural Hazards and their Consequences

Over the past several decades, natural hazard disasters have caused significant amounts of damages to communities in terms of loss of lives and destruction of property. The numbers of fatalities and injuries are astounding. From 1975 to 1994, natural hazards in the United States and its territories killed over 24,000 people, and injured about 100,000 (Mileti, 1999). In addition to these casualties, the destruction of property has resulted in great financial losses. From 1970 to the late 1990s, estimated dollar losses to property and crops from natural hazards fall between $230 billion and $1 trillion (Mileti, 1999). Among the causes of these lost lives, injuries, and damages, are:

Droughts dust storms earthquakes extreme cold floods fog heat hurricanes landslides lightning hail storms ice/sleet snow avalanches snowstorms tornadoes tropical storms tsunamis wildfires wind volcanoes

Each year, an increasing percentage of the nation’s population migrates to the urban centers, where major disasters are most likely to occur. Due to the availability and ease of commerce, cities tend to be built on ocean fronts, river banks, or in the case of California, in seismically active zones. This trend in population movement is increasing the vulnerability of the overall population of the country, and is concentrating lives in property such that each disaster has greater consequential potential than the last. In sum – people are becoming more susceptible to the effects of natural hazards.

Impact of Lives and Property

The impacts of natural disasters in terms of lives lost and property damages sustained severely impact communities, regardless of their size. Hurricanes, which tend to be especially destructive, serve as a good example of this point. From 1975 to 1994, hurricanes were the second most costly natural hazard in terms of property losses and the third most injurious”(Mileti, 1999). Typically, hurricanes strike on the Gulf Coast and up the East Coast, but areas in Hawaii, along the West Coast, and into the Midwest have all experienced hurricanes (Dacy, 1969). One of the most devastating disasters in the nation’s history occurred in 1900 when a hurricane struck Galveston, Texas, killing 6,000 people. More recently, Hurricane Ivan – which occurred during the 2004 hurricane season – struck Florida and other East Coast states, killing approximately 56 people (giving it the ranking of fifth most deadly hurricane since 1960) (Leinwand, 2004).

Over the course of the entire 20th century, floods were the number-one disaster in the United States in terms of lives lost and property damage, according to statistics gathered by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Flooding has caused the deaths of more than 4,000 people since 1900 (more than 10,000 if the storm surge from the 1900 Galveston hurricane is categorized as a flood event). Property damage from flooding now totals over $1 billion each year (Science Daily, 2005). In the spring and summer of 1993 alone, flooding in the upper Mississippi River Basin caused 48 deaths and resulted in record losses of more than $20 billion - about half of which were to residences, businesses, public facilities, and transportation facilities. More than 55,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and 532 counties received federal disaster aid (Perry, 2000). Flood damage totals are rising. From 1950 to 1964, floods caused losses of approximately $300 million annually (Dacy, 1969). However, flood damage estimates for the period of 1975 to 1994 range from $19.6 billion and $196 billion – or $1-$10 billion per year (Mileti, 1999).

Earthquakes are another hazard from which disasters often arise. Though earthquakes are most common in the West Coast and in Alaska, the entire United States is vulnerable to seismicity. In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake, which occurred in California, killed 66 people, and caused over $10 billion in damages. The Northridge, California, earthquake in 1994, struck a modern urban environment designed to withstand the forces of earthquakes. Its economic cost was estimated at $20 billion. Fortunately, relatively few lives were lost. Estimates of losses from a future earthquake in the United States approach $200 billion (NEHRP, 2004).

Mitigation Defined

In order to address the advances that have occurred in terms of mitigation policy in the United States, it is first necessary that mitigation be defined. According to David Godschalk in “Natural Hazard Mitigation: Recasting Disaster Policy and Planning”, the Robert T. Stafford Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988 defines mitigation as an “advance action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to human life and property from natural hazards” (Godschalk, 1999). In Dennis Mileti’s “Disasters by Design”, mitigation is defined as “the policies and activities that will reduce an area’s vulnerability to damage from future natural disasters” (Mileti, 1999).

While the first definition can be interpreted as one that addressing recognized and calculated risk, the second definition clearly focuses on pre-disaster mitigation. The common focus of all mitigation, however, is the performance of actions to reduce the hazard risk itself – not prepare for it should it happen. In essence, a mitigation activity reduces or eliminates the consequences that may occur if a hazard risk is realized. Preparedness, conversely, refers to the taking of an action that allows for adequate reaction to the disaster once it has occurred. For example, while evacuation planning helps building occupants prepare for what to do should an earthquake occur, seismic retrofitting to the building helps to ensure that the occupants never face any danger in the first place.

History of Federal Mitigation Legislation

Federal legislation to reduce the impacts of natural disasters first appeared in the form of patchwork, event-driven and location specific legislation. Whenever a specific natural disaster would strike a community or communities, causing great human suffering and/or property damage, legislation would be drafted to fit the peculiarities of that particular hazard type. Furthermore, the legislation would be written primarily to address the recovery of the State and local communities, such as was often the case during the repeat flooding problems of the 1930s (Huffman, 1986). It was not until Congress passed the Disaster Relief Act of 1950 that Federal powers to respond to natural disasters was both expanded and formalized. However, this act maintained that the State and local governments were still ultimately responsible for all disaster response activities that befall them.

The Disaster Relief Acts of 1966, 1969, and 1970 provided greater aid benefits to States, local communities, and individuals (Huffman, 1986). Specifically, the Disaster Relief Act of 1966 authorized grants to state and local governments which could be used to repair or reconstruct State and city infrastructure damaged or destroyed by natural disasters. The Disaster Relief Act of 1970 extended these benefits to include the repair or reconstruction of medical facilities, and gave increased authority to the President to dedicate the assistance of federal agencies to State and local governments (Bea, 2003).

In 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed Executive Order 12148 creating FEMA. The creation of FEMA helped to solidify the system by which the Federal government provided assistance in the response to disasters that overwhelm the capacity of the States to respond. Various Federal agencies had provided individual types of assistance prior to 1979, but President Carter created FEMA to centralize this Federal emergency management capacity into a focused, coordinated unit (GAO, 2002). After FEMA’s establishment, disaster response became increasingly federalized, most significantly as dictated by the text of the Stafford Act of 1988 (The Stafford Act).

The Stafford Act provided federal aid to state and local communities who had been impacted by a major, ‘Presidentially declared disaster.” Both the communities and the State in which they were located would presumably have been overwhelmed by the event, and unable to pay for the cost of response and recovery (Bea, 2000). But, what is most notable about this act is that it addressed the issue of Mitigation through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

The HMGP was at the time, and still is, the largest source of Federal funding for State and local mitigation activities. It is also, as reported by the GAO, the oldest. The HMPG provides grants to state and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation programs after a major disaster has been declared by the President. The Stafford Act stipulates only that HMGP projects reduce the overall risk from the hazard, and that the benefits of the project exceed the costs.

The original HMGP was not very successful, however, because it involved a heavy cost share for the states. In 1988, the Stafford Act allowed for HMGP funding to equal a total of 15% of the amount given in public assistance disaster relief to the State. For the projects, however, the state had to pay 50% of the cost, and the Federal government covered the other 50%. This policy lasted until 1993, and during this time many states found that they could not put forth sufficient funds to take advantage of the program.

Following the 1993 Midwest Floods, which were devastating to the states affected, Congress changed the match requirement such that States were responsible for only 25% of the HMGP project costs. To increase the amount of funding available for the program, Congress also changed the Stafford Act such that the HMGP would receive up to 15% of all disaster relief funding, not just the public assistance. After those changes were made, the program enjoyed wide success, most notably in the area of buyouts of homes located within the floodplain.

The HMGP allowed wide leeway to the states in their determination of what constituted mitigation. Examples of projects that were conducted in the aftermath of disasters include:

• Retrofitting buildings to be more structurally resilient to the effects of earthquakes • Establishing vegetation management programs • Designing and implementing building code enforcement mechanisms • Developing public education and awareness • Modifying building structures to resist specific hazards (raising structures, for example) • Building safe rooms in tornado-prone areas • Relocating structures to sites away from more hazard-prone areas

Additionally, the HMGP allowed state and local governments to hire staff to work on mitigation issues in communities.

During the late 80’s and the 90’s, other Federal programs were created that either indirectly addressed mitigation or did so by targeting specific vulnerabilities. For instance, the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 was enacted to rework lender compliance requirements and notification to borrowers about purchasing flood insurance in flood zone areas (Godschalk, 1999). Other natural hazard-specific mitigation programs included:

• The National Earthquake Hazard Program • The National Hurricane Program • The National Dam Safety Program • The Fire Prevention and Assistance Act (Haddow, 2003).

These mitigation programs focused on a particular natural disaster, and did not assess the overall natural disaster risks of the community.

The Beginnings of Pre-Disaster Mitigation

Project Impact: Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Initiative

Despite a predominant focus on post-disaster mitigation programs that existed at the Federal level, such as was true with the HMGP, some legislative steps were taken that did address pre-disaster mitigation. The first major advance occurred when, in the mid-1990s, FEMA created a Mitigation Directorate within its organizational structure. This directorate could not concentrate on the research and policy study required to understand the full benefits of pre-disaster, as well as post-disaster, mitigation activities (Godschalk, 1999).

Then, in 1997, FEMA announced an initiative program called Project Impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities, which was a pre-disaster mitigation program aimed at encouraging local communities to develop mitigation programs tailored to the specific natural disaster profiles that existed within their communities. Project Impact provided “small, one-time grants directly to communities, which … were designed to develop mitigation plans, build effective partnerships, and encourage private sector participation” (GAO, 2002). Furthermore, Project Impact worked to bring the local business community and the emergency management community together. FEMA’s initiative program sought to achieve the following pre-disaster mitigation program goals:

• To building a community partnership • To identify hazards and assess risks • To prioritizing risk-reduction actions • To develop communication strategies (Wachtendorf, 2000)

Project Impact began with seven pilot communities. By 2001, the program had expanded to over 225 cities, counties, and regions in the United States. These communities received grants ranging from $60,000 to $1,000,000. In total that year, Congress appropriated $25 million to the program. All communities were eligible to benefit from the program because funds could be disbursed regardless of whether or not a disaster had recently, or ever, occurred within the community.

The value of the program was made widely apparent when both Seattle, Washington, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, were impacted by disasters and fared well as result of participation in the program. Through these and other successes, the idea of pre-disaster mitigation (PDM) began to enjoy a growing support base. Congress responded to the need by working on legislation that would authorize much greater funding for the program. The funding, however, never came, and in 2002 the Project Impact was discontinued.

Legislation Leading to the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000

In 1998 and 1999, the U.S. Congress began developing legislation that would authorize FEMA’s Project Impact program. During this time, Congress initiated a bill titled The Disaster Mitigation Act of 1998. Lawmakers were seeking to create a program that funded disaster mitigation that was not dependent upon a disaster declaration. This bill was introduced in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and passed in the House of Representatives. However, the bill only went as far as the Senate committee before the session ended. The Senate subsequently introduced the Disaster Mitigation Act of 1999, S. 1691. This bill moved out of committee on March 4, 1999, but stopped there. The House reviewed a new version of the bill on October 10, 2000, and the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 was finally passed through conference committee.

Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000

After the U.S. Congress passed the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 on October 10th, President George W. Bush signed it into practice on October 30, 2000 (Public Law 106-390). This Act amended several parts of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988. Its primary purposes were to authorize a pilot program for a pre-disaster mitigation program, and to provide funding for a pre-disaster mitigation program (GAO, 2002).

Provisions of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000

Title I of the Disaster Mitigation Act discusses the problem addressed by the act and the purpose of the act. In addressing the problem of disasters - such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, flooding, and wildfires - which cause harm to people and their property, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 established a national hazard mitigation program and provided mitigation funding to state, local, and tribal governments through a “National Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund” (U.S. Congress, 2000). The act gave the President the authority to establish a grant program to provide state and local governments financial and technical assistance in pre-disaster mitigation measures. This ensures cost-effective strategies and reduces loss of life and destruction of property.

The State governors were tasked with selecting at least five local communities to participate in the program. If the governor does not select five, the President has the option to select the communities. Once the pre-disaster mitigation proposal is approved, funds can be allocated to state and local governments through the National Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund. State, local, and tribal governments can apply the pre-disaster mitigation measures in the following ways:

To support effective public-private natural disaster hazard mitigation partnerships To improve the assessment of a community’s vulnerability to natural hazards To establish hazard mitigation priorities and an appropriate hazard mitigation plan for the community

Once a State, local, or tribal government has developed and sent a mitigation plan identifying the natural hazards, risks, and vulnerabilities, the President (or FEMA, acting on behalf of the president) may approve the plan. According to the law, the President can increase federal funding by seven percent of the contributions after a state, local, or tribal government has developed a pre-disaster mitigation plan.

In addition to setting up a National Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant Program and a National Pre-disaster Mitigation Fund, an Interagency Task Force was established to coordinate these programs. The Director of FEMA was stipulated as the chair of this task force, and the members of the task force were to be composed of representatives from the State, local, and tribal governments, and the American Red Cross.

Title II of the Disaster Mitigation Act outlines how cost reduction measures can be funded through the pre-disaster mitigation program. This section gives the President the authority to “establish management cost rates… that [would] determine contributions” to State, local, and tribal governments. The President can also make contributions to State, local, or tribal governments “for repair to facilities damaged or destroyed by a major natural disaster and for associated expenses incurred by the government.” The Act also gave the President the authority to make contributions to private “non-profit facilities.”

Implementation and Funding of the Act


While FEMA already had a hazard mitigation planning program set up before the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, the act provided greater emphasis on state and local pre-disaster mitigation planning interaction. The revised hazard mitigation program emphasized performance measures rather than “prescriptive” measures to measure progress (FEMA, 2000). The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 also emphasized the idea of having Standard and Enhanced State Mitigation Plans. With regard to Standard State Mitigation Plans, state governments would be able to receive “7.5% of the total estimated eligible Stafford Act disaster assistance” of HMGP funding. In order to receive funding, the states are required to follow these requirements:

• Describe how the state coordinated with local mitigation planning efforts • Develop a mitigation strategy based on local and state vulnerability analyses and risk assessments • Describe how the state provides funding or technical assistance to local governments • Establish a plan maintenance process

With regard to Enhanced State Mitigation Plans, state governments could receive HMGP funds of up to “20% of the total estimated eligible Stafford Act disaster assistance” right after a natural disaster declaration has been declared. States must also follow these requirements to receive funding:

• Demonstrate a broad, programmatic mitigation approach • Demonstrate a systemic and effective administration and implementation of existing mitigation programs

Local Mitigation Plans also exist, for which local governments “must also demonstrate that proposed mitigation actions are based on a sound planning process that accounts for the inherent risk and capabilities of the individual communities.”

Approval Process

To implement pre-disaster mitigation plans from the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 into FEMA’s current mitigation program, FEMA published several Interim Final Rules, which stipulated the criteria for approval of the mitigation plans by the Federal Government for various government types (local, State, and tribal). Extensions to the deadline have been repeatedly granted, and as of mid-2005, no Final Rule has been released.

During the interim rule period, mitigation grants may be disbursed only after a tribal, local, or state government has had their mitigation plan approved by FEMA. FEMA requires state mitigation plans be “reviewed and re-approved by FEMA every three years,” while local mitigation plans be “reviewed and re-approved by FEMA every five years” (FEMA, 2000). For tribal governments, because they are sub-grantees of a state or local government grant, tribal governments must follow review and re-approval processes of whichever grant for which they are sub-grantees of the particular grant.

To be approved for a Standard State Mitigation Plan grant, a state government must receive a satisfactory score for each requirement of the plan before it is approved. For the Enhanced State Mitigation Plan grant, the State government must receive a “score of satisfactory… [on] all Standard and Enhanced requirements.” Local Mitigation Plans must also meet all satisfactory score requirements before a local community receives funding. For any requirement for which the State or local government does not receive a satisfactory score, they would receive a “needs improvement” score which would include FEMA comments and feedback on how to improve that particular deficiency. The program was clearly designed to be interactive and to allow for a transfer of technical knowledge.


Upon completing the Interim Rule, FEMA began funding pre-disaster mitigation plans in fiscal year 2003. During that year, FEMA provided $150 million under the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund to initiate a competitive grant program for pre-disaster mitigation activities (FEMA, 2004). The following is a list of states that received PDM funding in FY 2003:

North Carolina
New Hampshire
New Mexico
New York
Puerto Rico
South Carolina
West Virginia

The range of aid provided to each local community was from as little as $1131 to as high as $3 million.

Evaluations of the Hazard Mitigation Programs

Because the PDM program is still in its infancy, it is difficult to evaluate the progress of pre-disaster mitigation programs. However, the GAO provided a comparative evaluation of FEMA’s mitigation programs: the HMGP and Project Impact programs. In their report, “Hazard Mitigation: Proposed Changes to FEMA’s Multi-hazard Mitigation Programs Present Challenges,” the GAO described their evaluation of the HMGP and PDM (specifically Project Impact). The report was based on the evaluations of 24 state hazard mitigation officials who participated in both HMGP and PDM programs (GAO, 2002). In addition, the GAO conducted site visits in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina that have been involved in both programs. Overall, the GAO reported state mitigation officials considered both programs to be successful.

HMGP Evaluation

According to the GAO report, between FY1996 and FY2001, FEMA funded over $2.2 billion in the HMGP. The Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 increased state HMGP funding from 15% to 20%. Typical HMGP funded projects included improving structural building and property, such as the reinforcement of walls, roofs, and foundations.

State officials determined the HMGP was successful because the focus was on post-disaster mitigation activities. The idea behind the success of the HMGP was based on the fact that people have a desire and incentive to develop mitigation procedures after a natural disaster occurs, when the effects of a natural disaster are most visible. University studies, like the 1997 study conducted by Georgetown University, found this conclusion to be valid. What made the HMGP successful was that it “provided funding in the aftermath of a [natural] disaster” – when mitigation measures to protect the local and state communities was on the forefront of the minds of the citizens in the community (GAO, 2002).

Several examples have been used to illustrate HMGP’s success. For instance, when North Carolina was hit by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, the state government was awarded a HMGP fund of $228 million removed homes from “flood-prone areas.” Additionally, a small town in Ohio was struck by a tornado in 2000, which killed one person and injured over 100. After the tornado, and because of the HMGP funding, 50 families’ homes were reconstructed with residential “safe rooms” which would protect those occupants from future tornadoes (GAO, 2002).

Despite some of the success stories of the HMGP, there were also some concerns about the program. Cost effectiveness was difficult to determine on some projects. A report from the FEMA Office of Inspector General (OIG) in 1998 and 2001 indicated that analysis had not been conducted to determine the validity of a program. Furthermore, many hazard mitigation projects did not have any analysis conducted at all on the cost-effectiveness of the project – a requirement of funding. According to an administration budget request, “45% of the HMGP projects undertaken from 1993 to 2000 were minimally cost effective or not cost effective at all. The lack of cost-effective studies made it difficult to conclude how successful the HMGP was in those areas (GAO, 2002).

Project Impact/ PDM Program Evaluation

While there have not been many PDM program evaluations of funded projects resulting from the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, the GAO did evaluate the success of Project Impact. According to the GAO report, from FY 1997 to FY 2001, Project Impact provided a total of $77 million to communities in every state and several US territories.” One of Project Impact’s most notable benefits was the private and public partnerships that were created to address the community’s mitigation needs. An example provided described a business in Florida that installed impact resistant glass and concrete roofs to homes of elderly residents, at its own expense. Another benefit of Project Impact was that it provided funding for State and local hazard mitigation officials to identify risks and vulnerabilities, used by the community in developing mitigation plans. Third, Project Impact provided “seed money” to state and local communities, so local businesses would have an incentive to provide additional funding. In 1998, for example, $500,000 was granted to Utah to hosting meetings and outreach sessions with the local business community, to solicit additional funding. Through the meeting, State emergency managers were able to meet with the local business community leaders and raise approximately $2 million (GAO, 2002).

Changes in FY 2003

With the success of Project Impact and other legislation supporting pre-disaster mitigation, FEMA proposed in 2003 to abolish the HMGP in favor of a fully-competitive PDM program. Though this did not occur, the program was changed from being formula-based to competitive. The administration cites the reason behind their drive to push all mitigation ‘pre-disaster,’ is to bring more stability to the program, as well as bring “a consistent level of mitigation assistance … available to states and communities.” These proposed changes are also based upon the belief that states would no longer be dependent on disaster declarations to obtain mitigation grants.

The GAO report examining mitigation programs in the United States considered this argument, and arrived at the conclusion that American communities might be better served by programs that address both pre- and post-disaster mitigation. Their primary concerns, as listed in the report, were that:

• FEMA and states may not be able to take advantage of interest in participating in mitigation activities that often emerge after a natural disaster has struck • Some states might be entirely excluded from mitigation funding • Outreach and planning activities that help increase participation in mitigation might be curtailed, and • FEMA might face challenges, such as establishing a process for comparing the costs and benefits of projects, in implementing the new program (GAO, 2002)

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Loans Program for Small Businesses

The Small Business Association (SBA), in partnership with FEMA, created a business-targeted pre-disaster mitigation initiative – the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Loan Program (FEMA, N/D). The loan program’s purpose is to make low-interest; fixed-rate loans to small businesses so that they are able to implement mitigation measures that protect their property from damage from future natural disasters (SBA, N/D). In 2000, the program was authorized as a pilot, with $15 million in funding for each of the five years from 2000 to 2004. The pilot stipulated that, to be eligible, the businesses must be located in a flood hazard area, and as of November 1, 2003, they had to be located in a community that has a FEMA approved mitigation plan. Each applicant could apply for a loan of up to $50,000 per fiscal year. At this time the pilot has completed, though there are no reports as of yet concerning its outcome.

Pre-disaster Mitigation Program Reauthorization Act of 2003

Congress is taking steps to continue efforts towards pre-disaster mitigation. In the 108th Congressional session, the U.S. House of Representatives worked to amend the three year deadline to the HGMP, and extended the deadline to September 30, 2005. The Pre-disaster Mitigation Program Reauthorization Act of 2003, H.R. 3181, sought to extend the Disaster Mitigation Act for three years, (and to restore the HMGP formula to 15%). The U.S. House of Representatives referred H.R. 3181, Pre-disaster Mitigation Program Reauthorization Act of 2003, to House committee on November 4, 2003; The bill was then referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on December 9, 2003. However, because Congress adjourned without voting on the bill, it did not move forward. In December of 2004, a one-year extension of the PDM program was included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill.


Federal mitigation policies have grown significantly during the last fifty years. The most significant change has been the shift towards vulnerability reduction at the community level. Mitigation policy has begun to move away from the treatment of individual disasters towards more comprehensive programs supporting hazards risk assessment. With such tools at their service, communities are better able to define their needs accurate in relation to the portfolio of risks they face.

Federal mitigation policy has also sought to treat hazards before disasters occur rather then taking those same mitigation actions only as a reactionary measure. Under such policies, towns and cities must no longer suffer needlessly before State and Federal Government support is provided. With the benefit of hazards risk assessments, communities can identify these hazard risks and reduce them without needing to have an established history of disaster events. Several communities have already reaped the benefits of pre-disaster mitigation, and their increased resilience paid off in lives saved and property preserved.

Unfortunately, because pre-disaster mitigation funding is still very new, and only limited research exists on the absolute monetary benefits it provides, some communities may be skeptical of committing funds to its practice despite evidence that suggests cost-effectiveness. However, as more programs are funded, and more disasters are mitigated as a result, these figures will become available. In 2005, the argument for pre-disaster mitigation received a significant boost when a report was released by the Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC), a public/private partnership designed to reduce the economic and social costs of natural hazards. The Council proclaimed “money spent on reducing the risk of natural hazards is a sound investment” (MMH, 2005). The MMC study determined that, on average, every dollar that FEMA had spent on hazard mitigation had produced about $4 in future benefits. What is more impressive is that these results are not limited purely to the financial consequences. According to the study, FEMA’s mitigation grants were directly linked to the prevention of an estimated 220 lives, and also appear to have prevented almost 4,700 injuries.

Armed with these findings, more emergency managers will be able to convince their constituents, and their community executives, that pre-disaster mitigation is as sound an investment as those managers have long believed. Such findings will also be key to furthering the drive towards Federally- and state-supported mitigation policies. After all, with an 300% observed rate of return, investment in pre-disaster mitigation is a fantastic sell.


Bea, Keith. 2000. Disaster Mitigation Assistance Bills in the 106th Congress: Comparison of Provisions. Congressional Research Service Report RL30543. May 5.

Bea, Keith. 2003. Federal Disaster Policies after Terrorists Strike: Issues and Options. New York. Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Dacy, Douglas and Howard Kunreuther. 1969. The Economics of Natural Disaster: Implications for Federal Policy. New York. The Free Press.

FEMA. N/D. “Mitigation Grant Programs: List of Fiscal Year 2003 Pre-Disaster Mitigation Competitive Grant Recipients.” FEMA Website.

FEMA 2. N/D. “Pre-Disaster Mitigation Loans for Small Businesses.” FEMA Website.

Godschalk, David R., Timothy Beatley, Philip Berke, David Brower, and Edward Kaiser. 1999. Natural Hazard Mitigation: Recasting Disaster Policy and Planning. Washington, DC. Island Press.

Government Accountability Office (GAO). 2002. “Hazard Mitigation: Proposed Changes to FEMA’s Multihazard Program Present Challenges.” Washington, DC. September.

Haddow, George and Jane Bullock. 2003. Introduction to Emergency Management. New York. Butterworth Heinemann.

Huffman, James. 1986. Government Liability and Disaster Mitigation: A Comparative Study. Lanham, MD. University Press of America, Inc.

Leinwand, Donna, and Gregg Zoroya. 2004. “Hurricane’s Toll Grows Heavier in Eastern USA.” USA Today. September 20.

Mileti, Dennis S. 1999. Disasters by Design: A Reassessment of Natural Hazards in the United States. Washington, DC. Joseph Henry Press.

Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC). 2005. Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities. Volume 1.

National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP). 2004. What is an Earthquake? November 22.

Perry, Charles A. 2000. Significant Floods in the United States During the 20th Century – USGS Measures a Century of Floods. United States Geological Survey (USGS) Fact Sheet 024-00. March.

Science Daily. 2005. USGS Measures a Century of Floods. May 12.

Small Business Administration (SBA). N/D. “Pre-Disaster Mitigation Loan Program.” SBA Website.

United States Congress. 2000. “Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000.” Public Law 106-390. October 30.

United States Senate. 2000. “Disaster Mitigation Act of 1999.” S. 1691. May 17.

Wachtendorf, Tricia. 2000. “Building Community Partnerships Toward a National Mitigation Effort.” Disaster Research Center. Newark, DE. University of Delaware.

Image 7.3.1: House Raised to Mitigate Flood Risk

Source: FEMA -
Additional Sources of Information on NEHRP

FEMA NEHRP Home Page -

SAC Steel Project:

The NEHRP Coalition -

Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) Position on NEHRP Reauthorization -

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program “Largest Earthquakes in the United States”

USGS Earthquake Home Page -


Additional Sources of Information on the Homeland Security Act of 2002

Department of Homeland Security –

White House Homeland Security Page -

Full Text of the Act -

GAO Report on Nunn Lugar Domenici Act -

Terrorism Annex to the Federal Response Plan (Now the National Response Plan)

FEMA September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack Page -

Additional Sources of Information on DMA 2000

SBA Pre-disaster mitigation program -

DMA 2000 Planning Resources Approved Hazard Mitigation Plans

Full List of 2003 Approved PDM Projects

FEMA Mitigation Division Website -
Glossary of Terms

ASCE Standard – Building or other engineering / architectural code accepted by the American Society of Civil Engineers

Microzonation - The identification of separate individual areas having different potentials for hazardous earthquake effects

Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale - a scale used to classify the intensity of an earthquake by examining its effects on people and structures at the Earth's surface. It was created by Italian volcanologist Giuseppe Mercalli in 1902. It is often used to classify the magnitude of historical earthquakes that occurred before seismic measurements were possible.

Richter Scale – A logarithmic scale, invented in 1935 by United States geophysicist Charles Richter, for representing the energy released by earthquakes

Sarin – a man-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent

WMD – Weapon of Mass Destruction – Refers to a weapon designed to kill or injure large numbers of people. These weapons tend to be made out of Nuclear, radiological, biological, chemical, or highly explosive materials.

ASCE – American Society of Civil Engineers
ATF – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
BTS – Border and Transportation Security
CBP – U.S. Customs and Border Protection
CIA – Central Intelligence Agency
CUREe – California Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
DHS – Department of Homeland Security
DOJ – Department of Homeland Security
EERI – Earthquake Engineering Research Institute
EP&R – Emergency Preparedness and Response
FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency
FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA – Freedom of Information Act
FRP - Federal Response Plan
GAO – General Accounting Office / Government Accountability Office
HAZUS – Hazards U.S.
HAS – Homeland Security Act
HMGP – Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
HSARPA - Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency
HSOC – Homeland Security Operations Center
HSPD – Homeland Security Presidential Directive
IAIP – Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
NEES – Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation
NEHRP – National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
NESW – National Earthquake Strategy Working Group
NEP – National Earthquake Loss Reduction Program
NHSA – National Homeland Security Agency
NIMS – National Incident Management System
NIST – National Institute for Standards and Technology
NSA – National Security Agency
NSF – National Science Foundation
OIG – Office of the Inspector General
OSTP – Office of Science and Technology Policy
PBSD – Performance Based Seismic Design
PDD – Presidential Decision Directive
PDM – Pre-Disaster Mitigation
PHSAC – President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council
S&T – Science and Technology
SBA – Small Business Administration
TIPS – Terrorism Information and Prevention System
TSA – Transportation Security Administration
TTIC – Terrorist Threat Information Center
USAR – Urban Search and Rescue
USCIS - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
USCNS/21 – United States Commission on National Security / 21st Century
USGS - United States Geological Survey
USSS – United States Secret Service
WMD – Weapon of Mass Destruction
Discussion Questions


1. Why is statutory authority important to disaster management?

2. Is the Stafford Act an effective piece of legislation? Why or why not?

3. Should the Federal Government be able to intervene in the response to a disaster without a request from the governor of a state? Why or why not?

4. In a disaster that requires response from local, State, and Federal resources, who should be in charge, and why?

5. Is emergency and disaster management legislation event driven? Explain.


1. Are earthquakes a hazard every American should spend time and money preparing for? Why or why not?

2. Should the Federal Government be responsible for Earthquake early warning system design, funding, and operation? Explain your answer.

3. What role do individuals play in the mitigation from the earthquake hazard in the United States?

4. Do you believe that NIST is better equipped or better positioned to be the lead agency for NEHRP? Why or why not?

5. What more could be done to mitigate the earthquake risk in the United States?

Homeland Security Act of 2002

1. Was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security a knee-jerk reaction or a much needed change? Explain.

2. In your opinion, why weren’t the recommendations of the three commissions followed until after an event like the September 11th attacks occurred?

3. What benefits are gained by housing the 22 agencies included in DHS under one roof? What are the risks?

4. Why do you think that FEMA was permitted to retain the FEMA name?

5. Does the legislation behind the creation of the Department of Homeland Security give ample consideration to non-terrorist hazards?

DMA 2000

1. Why is pre-disaster mitigation important? Is it more or less effective than post-disaster mitigation? Explain your answers.

2. Should money allocated to mitigation be required to show a positive return in the long run? In other words, should $1 spent on mitigation be required to prevent at least $1 in future damages? Why or why not?

3. Why are the financial costs of disasters rising while the fatalities and injuries are falling? Will there come a time where both decrease? Why or why not?

4. Should legislation that addresses mitigation be hazard specific or address all hazards? Explain.

5. Is moving all Federal funding into pre-disaster mitigation programs wise? Explain.

Suggested Out of Class Exercises

1. Contact your local office of emergency management, and find out if your community has a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan. If so, ask to view the plan, and offer your analysis to the class. If not, suggest what could be done to address your community’s hazards.

2. Read the National Response Plan. Become familiar with its components

3. Find out if your community is receiving grant money from the various Federal emergency management programs. Find out if there are any programs for which your community is eligible but has not applied. Help them to create a grant application or to design a program for which the funds will be applied.

4. Choose one of the programs funded by the PDM program in 2003, and follow up on its progress (either through the media or by contacting representatives from the program). Report your findings to the class.

5. Find out what statutory authority exists in your community for the management of disasters. Report what you find to the class.

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