Organization and Mission of the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate: Issues and Options for the 109th Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Organization and Mission of the Emergency
Preparedness and Response Directorate:
Issues and Options for the 109 Congress
September 7, 2005
Specialist, American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
Organization and Mission of the Emergency
Preparedness and Response Directorate: Issues and
Options for the 109th Congress
On July 13, 2005, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael
Chertoff released an assessment of departmental functions known as the second stage
review, or 2SR. The recommended changes, planned for implementation on October
Directorate of DHS, also referred to as the Federal Emergency Management Agency
(FEMA). FEMA would remain within DHS but become a smaller entity reporting
directly to the Secretary and would be responsible for consequence management.
The Secretary’s recommendation is consistent with mission shifts and gaps
evident since the establishment of DHS (and EPR) in 2003. Certain functions and
tasks of EPR are no longer administered in the directorate. Some authorities
originally transferred into EPR have few resources. In short, EPR has administered
a portfolio of authorities more limited than authorized by Congress.
By congressional direction and tradition, FEMA’s mission comprises four broad
areas — preparedness, response, recovery, and hazard mitigation. Secretary Chertoff
identifies response and recovery as the “core” operations of FEMA that will be
retained in the agency. Preparedness functions would be transferred to a new
directorate. No information is available concerning plans for the disposition of
hazard mitigation activities.
Congress might elect to evaluate the Administration’s 2SR proposal by
reviewing whether authorities set out in the Homeland Security Act for EPR (Title
V of P.L. 107-296) should remain the focus of one DHS entity or be integrated into
other DHS units as proposed by the Secretary. Congress might also broaden the
debate by considering the scope and reach of federal authorities that are missions for
entities other than DHS.
Options that might be considered include strengthening EPR/FEMA, endorsing
the Secretary’s proposal, or reassessing the range of homeland security missions and
emergency authorities in departments or agencies other than DHS. Congress would
have to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-296) if all aspects of the
Secretary’s recommendation were to be implemented. Several bills pending before
Congress might serve as legislative vehicles. H.R. 1817, which would authorize
appropriations and establish new preparedness authorities, might be considered
appropriate legislation for such changes. H.R. 3477 would direct the DHS Secretary
to establish regional offices, an important element in coordinating federal and state
activities. Perhaps of greatest significance, some Members of Congress are
reportedly considering new legislation in the wake of the tragic events at the end of
August, 2005, that occurred after Hurricane Katrina. For example, S. 1615, the text
of which is not currently available, would establish FEMA as an independent agency.
This report will be updated as significant related events occur during the 109th
Background ..................................................... 1
The Administration Proposal....................................1
The Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate..............3
Emergency Preparedness Authorities.............................9
Continuity of Government Operations....................10
Hazard Warning Systems..............................12
Emergency Response Authorities...............................13
National Response Plan...............................13
Emergency Response Entities..........................14
Authorities of Other Federal Agencies...........................16
Preparedness Authorities in Other Agencies...................20
Response Authorities in Other Agencies......................22
Federal Response Capabilities..........................22
Emergency Medical Response..........................28
Military Response Activities...........................29
Issue Discussion, Questions and Responses...........................34
Overview of Preparedness Issues........................34
Overview of Response Issues..........................36
Summary of Issue Discussion..........................37
Questions and Responses......................................39
Preparedness Authorities Questions.........................41
Response Authorities Questions............................43
Summary of Options for Congress...................................45
Take No Legislative Action................................45
Place a Reconstituted FEMA in the Executive Office of the
President ........................................... 45
Further Consolidate Selected Missions.......................45
Continuity of Operations..............................49
Hazard Warning Systems..............................49
Separate Natural Disaster and Terrorism Missions..............49
Strengthen and Monitor Interagency Coordination Requirements..50
Conclusion ..................................................... 52
Appendix A. Acronym Glossary........................................53
Appendix B. Evolution of Federal Emergency Authorities...................54
List of Figures
Figure 1. Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate Organization Chart,
2005 ........................................................... 7
Figure 2. Department of Homeland Security Organization Chart...............8
Figure 3. DOD Representation of Overlays Among Emergency Preparedness
Functions ...................................................... 32
List of Tables
Table 1. Summary of Components of Emergency Preparedness and Response
Directorate ...................................................... 6
Table 2. Statutory Emergency Authorities of Federal Agencies Other Than
Department of Homeland Security...................................17
Table 3. Federal Consequence Management Response Resources..............23
Organization and Mission of the Emergency
Preparedness and Response Directorate:
Issues and Options for the 109 Congress
The Administration Proposal. Shortly after his confirmation on February 15,
2005, as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Michael Chertoff
initiated a study, referred to as the Second Stage Review (2SR), of the mission and
structure of the department.1 On July 13, 2005, Secretary Chertoff released his
reorganization recommendation; the Administration expects to implement the changes on
October 1, 2005.2
Months before the release of the findings, Secretary Chertoff reportedly testified
before the House Government Reform committee that the review is intended to generate
“results without regard to bureaucratic stovepipes...that shares information effectively
both up and down the ranks of the department, and externally, with our federal, state,
local and private sector partners.”3 Secretary Chertoff’s 2SR recommendations reflect
elements of a similar proposal presented in a report issued at the end of 2004 by the
Heritage Foundation.4 The report included a recommendation to consolidate “critical
infrastructure protection, preparedness, and state/local/private coordination efforts under
1 “Statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff before the House
Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee,” Mar. 2, 2005, available at
[http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?theme=45&content=4381], visited June 14, 2005.
The findings are summarized on the DHS website, “Secretary Michael Chertoff U.S.
Department of Homeland Security Second Stage Review Remarks,” available at
[http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4597], visited July 13, 2005. Secretary
Chertoff has explained that the establishment of DHS as a cabinet-level department under
then Secretary Ridge constituted the “first stage”; Secretary Chertoff’s proposal is presented
as the “second stage.”
2 The Administration submitted an FY2006 budget amendment to Congress in order to
implement the changes at the beginning of the new fiscal year. See the July 22, 2005, letter
from the director of the Office of Management and Budget at
Aug. 1, 2005. For an overview, see CRS Report RL33042, Department of Homeland
Security Reorganization: The 2SR Initiative, by Harold C. Relyea and Henry B. Hogue.
3 Jim Morris, “Chertoff Says First Phase of Sweeping DHS Review Finished Ahead of
Schedule,” CQ Homeland Security, June 9, 2005.
4 James Jay Carafano and David Heyman, DHS2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland
Security (Washington: The Heritage Foundation, 2004).
an Undersecretary for Protection and Preparedness.”5 If implemented, the Secretary’s
recommendations will lead to significant changes in DHS operations and lines of
Under the Secretary’s proposal, the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR)
Directorate of DHS would be dismantled, with preparedness functions moved to a new
Preparedness Directorate. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
currently part of and synonymous with EPR, would become a separate DHS entity that
would report directly to the Secretary. FEMA would retain responsibility for consequence
management after catastrophes occur. In testimony before a House committee the
Secretary presented the rationale for realigning FEMA’s functions as follows:
What the restructuring proposes to do is to take out of FEMA a couple of elements
that were really not related to its core mission, that were more generally focused on
the issue of preparedness in a way that I think was frankly more of a distraction to
FEMA than an enhancement to FEMA. Obviously, FEMA’s expertise as a response
and recovery agency and as an operational agency, is very, very important to our
preparedness effort, as is the expertise of a number of our components, like Secret
Service or Coast Guard, which are also going to be, obviously, working very closely
with our preparedness component.
But we wanted to make sure that FEMA was, as an operational agency, capable of
focusing on its core mission, that it was a direct report to the secretary so it gets the
direct attention that it needs. And we wanted to make sure the leadership of FEMA
was not torn between its need to focus on the FEMA role and these additional, rather
more strategic, preparedness functions, which we think that we are now seeking to6
unify and put together in a coordinated fashion.
Through the 2SR process, Secretary Chertoff is seeking to build a more unified and
focused department. The proposed transfer of preparedness and certain response
functions from EPR, and the elimination of the directorate, arguably is one means of
achieving that goal. The proposal to eliminate EPR, retain FEMA as a smaller entity with
fewer responsibilities, and create two new organizational components — the Office of
Operations Coordination (OOC) and the Preparedness Directorate (PD) — would,
according to the Secretary, result in a more focused alignment of organizations and
Under the Secretary’s proposal, FEMA would report directly to the Secretary and
would continue to administer federal response and recovery authorities after catastrophes
occur. OOC would “provide the Secretary with improved crisis and operational
management tools” and include the Homeland Security Operations Center (HSOC), the
staff of which monitors threats and incident management operations. The Preparedness
Directorate would exercise administrative responsibility for preparedness and training
5 Ibid., p. 14.
6 Response of Secretary Chertoff before House Committee on Homeland Security, Review
of Department of Homeland Security Organization (Washington: 2005), July 25, 2005,
transcript available by subscription through CQ Homeland Security.
functions currently held by EPR and other DHS entities.7 The U.S. Fire Administration,
hazardous material training, the chemical stockpile, the radiological emergency
preparedness programs, and BioShield would be transferred to PD.
This report provides background information on matters relevant to the proposal to
eliminate EPR, shift the remaining preparedness functions to a new directorate, and
refocus FEMA’s mission solely to consequence management. Because the 2SR initiative
makes no mention of the effect of the proposal on FEMA’s hazard mitigation efforts, this
report suggests that this is an issue that Congress might elect to investigate.
This report provides information on the authorities and missions of EPR and reviews
actions taken since the establishment of DHS to modify the directorate’s functions. In
addition, the report examines the homeland security and emergency management
authorities that Congress has assigned to federal entities other than DHS. It presents as
comprehensive a picture as possible of relevant authorities and administrative issues. The
report concludes with options that Congress might elect to consider as it evaluates the
merits of Secretary Chertoff’s 2SR proposal.
The Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate. The Homeland
Security Act of 2002 (HSA) established the Emergency Preparedness and Response8
(EPR) Directorate in DHS. Title V of the HSA transferred the functions, personnel,
resources, and authorities of six existing entities into EPR, as shown below:9
2. the Integrated Hazard Information System (IHIS), previously administered
by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the
Department of Commerce;11
3. the National Domestic Preparedness Office (NDPO) of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation and related functions of the Attorney General;12
7 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Michael Chertoff, letter to Congress of
July 13, 2005.
8 Sec. 501, P.L. 107-296, 6 U.S.C. 311.
9 6 U.S.C. 313(1)-(6).
10 Appendix B of this report provides background information. Many publications cover
the establishment of FEMA in 1978 and the evolution of its mission over the years. See, for
example, Richard Sylves and William R. Cumming, “FEMA’s Path to Homeland Security:
Building an Emergency Management System to Meet People’s Needs in Natural and
Manmade Disasters (Washington: 1993).
11 The act renames the IHIS system “FIRESAT.” Funding for this program has not been
authorized since FY2000. The House report that accompanied the HSA legislation (H.R.
5005) noted that IHIS would give DHS “a real near-time capability to detect wild fires in
12 According to the FY2003 budget request submitted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
4. the Domestic Emergency Support Teams (DEST) of the Department of
Justice and related functions of the Attorney General;13
5. the Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) and related functions of the
Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the
Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness;14 and,
6. the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) of HHS and related functions of the
S ecret ary. 15
A seventh capability, the Nuclear Incident Response Team (NIRT), is organized,
equipped, and trained by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection
Agency and operates, as directed by the DHS Secretary, as an organizational unit of
EPR.16 In addition to these functions, the statute also sets forth specific responsibilities
for EPR that include the following:
!promoting the effectiveness of emergency responders;
!supporting NIRT through standards, training exercises, and the provision
!managing, overseeing, and coordinating specified federal response
!aiding disaster recovery;
!creating an intergovernmental national incident management system;
!consolidating existing federal response plans into one plan;
(FBI), no funds were requested as the “NDPO consequence management activities will be
transferred to the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s [Agency] new terrorism
office. However, the FBI will continue to retain responsibility for crisis management.” See
“Department of Justice FY2003 Budget Summary, Federal Bureau of Investigation Salaries
and Expenses,” at [http://www.usdoj.gov/jmd/2003summary/html/fbi-se-bs2.htm], visited
Feb. 8, 2005. Scant information exists on the extent to which the NDPO is used, funded,
or considered a resource.
13 DEST is a stand-by interagency team of experts that provides an on-scene commander
(Special Agent in Charge) with advice and guidance in situations involving a weapon of
mass destruction (WMD) or other significant domestic threat. More information on the role
of DEST in the response activities of EPR appears later in this report.
14 The HHS components transferred to EPR in March 2003 included the National Disaster
Medical System (NDMS). For summary information, see U.S. Department of Homeland
Security, “National Disaster Medical System,” at
[http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease_print.fema?id=11927], visited Apr. 22, 2005. For
related information on federal health authorities, see CRS Report RL31719, An Overview
of the U.S. Public Health System in the Context of Emergency Preparedness, by Sarah A.
15 The SNS is no longer part of the EPR mission. The Project Bioshield Act of 2004 (Sec.
3, P.L. 108-276) authorizes the Secretary of HHS, “in coordination with the Secretary of
Homeland Security,” to administer the SNS.
16 Sec. 504 and Sec. 506, P.L. 107-296, 6 U.S.C. 314, 316.
!ensuring that emergency responders acquire interoperative
!developing a coordinated strategy for public health-related activities; and
!using private sector resources.18
The provision of the HSA that appears most pertinent to the Secretary’s 2SR
proposal is the section titled “Role of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.”
Section 507 charges FEMA with “carrying out its mission to reduce the loss of life and
property and protect the Nation from all hazards by leading and supporting the Nation in
a comprehensive, risk-based emergency management program.”19 Whereas much of
FEMA’s authority initially rested on executive directives that transferred functions and
resources, this statutory provision explicitly stated the broad reach of FEMA’s mission.
Table 1 presents summary information on the tasks currently administered by major
components of EPR under this statutory authority. Figure 1 presents an organization
chart of the major EPR components. Figure 2 presents an organization chart of DHS to
show EPR within the context of the entire department. The information in the
organization charts is based on data available on the DHS website and from other
17 This provision was amended in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of
18 Sec. 502, 505-509, P.L. 107-296, 6 U.S.C. 312, 315-319.
19 6 U.S.C. 317.
20 “Department of Homeland Security Organization Chart,” available at
[http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/DHSOrgCharts0705.pdf], visited July 13, 2005.
Table 1. Summary of Components of Emergency Preparedness and
Division or OfficePrimary Responsibilities
Under SecretaryAdministers EPR and serves as director of FEMA
Policy OfficeDevelops and monitors implementation of policy and
considers need for policy changes
External Affairs OfficeCoordinates distribution of information to external entities
Regional OperationsRegional and area offices serve as liaison with state,
officesterritorial, and local governments throughout the nation
Plans and Programs OfficeDevelops and monitors implementation and goals strategies
National SecurityProvides leadership to federal agencies for continuity of
Coordination Officeoperations (COOP), develops and implements exercises for
the continuity of government (COG) program
U.S. Fire AdministrationProvides leadership and support of efforts to prevent and
control fires and enhance emergency medical services
PreparednessDevelops national response capability, sponsors tabletop
exercises, enhances capabilities to respond to incidents at
U.S. Army chemical stockpile sites, helps monitoring efforts
around nuclear power plants, assesses capabilities of units of
government, maintains and refines the National Incident
Management System (NIMS) and components
MitigationWorks with state and local units of government to reduce the
risks of hazards from future disasters, updates flood maps,
administers the pre-disaster mitigation grant program
ResponseIntegrates DHS response teams, deploys Federal Initial
Response Support Teams (FIRSTs), improves disaster
response and recovery initiatives, develops catastrophic
disaster response plans in high-risk communities, improves
hospital surge and mass patient care capabilities
RecoveryLeads efforts to rebuild communities after catastrophes,
develops and implements plans to expedite aid after
catastrophic disasters, improves decontamination efforts,
administers debris removal program, coordinates efforts to
restore public services
Sources: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate,
Federal Emergency Management Agency, Fiscal Year 2006 Congressional Justification (Washington:
2005), pp. FEMA-1through FEMA-7; information based also on conversations between the author and
FEMA congressional liaison staff.
Figure 1. Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate Organization
National Security CoordinationExternal Affairs
Under SecretaryU.S. Fire AdministrationRegional Operations
PolicyPlans & Programs
PreparednessDivisionMitigation DivisionResponseDivisionRecovery Division
NI MSIntegration Ri s k
Logistics Fe de r a l
Cen t e r Identificat ion Coordi na t i ng
Operations Of f i c e r
Program &System Dev.Risk AssessmentOperations
CapabilityAs s u r a n c e Ri s k PublicAssi st ance
Co mmu n i c a t i o ns
Ma na ge me n t St r a t e gi c
Re s o u r c e s
Ma na gemen t
Sources: CRS, based on information provided by the FEMA Office of Legislative Affairs, and
organization charts dated June 28, 2004, and Dec. 2, 2003.
Figure 2. Department of Homeland Security Organization Chart
Executive Secretary Commandant of Coast Guard
Legislative AffairsInspector General
Public AffairsGeneral Counsel
State and Local Government Coordination and PreparednessDirector, Bureau of Citizenshipand Immigration Services Civil Rights and Civil LibertiesCitizenship and ImmigrationService Ombudsman
Special Assistant to the Secretary(private sector)Director of the Secret Service
Small and Disadvantaged BusinessPrivacy OfficerChief of Staff
National Capital Region CoordinationInternational Affairs
Headquarters Operational Integration Headquarters Operational Integration
St a f fSt a f f
Shared ServicesCounter Narcotics
Under Secretary for Under Secretary for BorderUnder Secretary for Emergency
Under Secretary for ManagementUnder Secretary forScience and TechnologyInformation Analysis and and Transportation SecurityPreparedness and Response
Chief Financial OfficerAssistant Secretary for Plans, Programs, and BudgetsAssistant Secretary for Information AnalysisCommissioner of the Bureau of Customs and Border Assistant Secretary for Border and Transportation Security Policy
Pro t ectio n
Chief Information OfficerHomeland Security Advanced
Research Projects AgencyAssistant Secretary for Infrastructure ProtectionAssistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Transportation Security Administration
Chief Human Capital OfficerEnforcement
Office of Research and Development
Chief Procurement Officer
Administrative ServicesOffice of Systems Engineering and Acquisition
Sources: DHS organization chart prepared by Henry Hogue, Analyst in American National Government,
and Mildred Boyle, Research Production Assistant, Government and Finance Division, CRS, April 6, 2005.
Chart based on information available from the DHS website
[http://www.dhs.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/DHS_OrgChart_2004.pdf] and U.S. National Archives and
Records Administration, Office of the Federal Register, The United States Government Manual 2004-2005
(Washington: GPO, 2004), p. 234. DHS personnel verified the accuracy of information in the chart in April
Emergency Preparedness Authorities. Title V of the HSA identifies the
mission and authority of EPR, but actions taken by the Administration and by Congress
since the establishment of DHS have resulted in a mismatch whereby the statutory
authority does not match the mission carried out by directorate officials. The following
subsection provides background information on the preparedness authorities currently
assigned to EPR in the statute, and tracks the transfer of responsibilities from the
Prior to its incorporation into DHS, FEMA administered preparedness
responsibilities through offices and directorates such as the Plans and Preparedness
Directorate (generally from the inception of the agency through the early 1980s during the
Carter Administration); national preparedness and planning entities during the Reagan
Administration (the late 1980s through 1992); the Preparedness, Training, and Exercises
Directorate (the mid-1990s during the Clinton Administration); and the Office of National
Preparedness (the early years of the George W. Bush Administration). Throughout
FEMA’s existence, emergency preparedness has been an integral component of the
The Bush Administration sought to maintain a preparedness function, including
terrorism preparedness, in FEMA as part of its initial plan for DHS. However, during
congressional debate on the HSA, terrorism emergency preparedness missions were
separated from FEMA and brought under the jurisdiction of the Office for Domestic21
Preparedness (ODP) within the Border and Transportation Security Directorate.
This action proved a precursor to subsequent decisions to decrease the emergency
preparedness mission of EPR. On March 26, 2004, the Secretary of DHS reorganized the
department and transferred ODP to the Office for State and Local Government
Coordination and Preparedness (SLGCP) within the Office of the Secretary.22 As part of
this consolidation, and as approved by Congress, responsibility for administering the
following programs migrated from EPR to SLGCP:
!Assistance to Firefighters program,
!Emergency Management Performance Grant program,
!first responder counter-terrorism training assistance,
!state and local all-hazards emergency operations planning,
!interoperable communications equipment,
!Community Emergency Response Teams, and
21 Sec. 430 of P.L. 107-296, 6 U.S.C. 238.
22 “The Secretary may allocate or reallocate functions among the officers of the Department,
and may establish, consolidate, alter, or discontinue organizational units within the
Department, but only (1) pursuant to section 1502(b); or (2) after the expiration of 60 days
after providing notice of such action to the appropriate congressional committees, which
shall include an explanation of the rationale for the action.” Sec. 872 of P.L. 107-296, 6
U.S.C. 452. The reorganization was proposed in Secretary Ridge, letter to Senator Susan
Collins, Chair, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Jan. 26, 2004. For background on
the reorganization authority, see CRS Report RS21450, Homeland Security: Scope of the
Secretary’s Reorganization Authority, by Stephen R. Viña.
!Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS).23
In addition to the transfer of grant authority to SLGCP, Congress and the
administration agreed to transfer three other preparedness missions from EPR. First, as
noted on page 4 of this report, Congress reversed the HSA provision that brought the
Strategic National Stockpile, which includes the preparation of pharmaceuticals, vaccines,
and medical supplies ready for deployment, into EPR, and returned the authority for the
stockpile to HHS. Second, the 108th Congress removed the FEMA director as coordinator
of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program by transferring that authority to
the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Department of Commerce.24
A third reduction occurred with enactment of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism
Prevention Act of 2004. The HSA originally authorized the Under Secretary of EPR to
develop a comprehensive interoperable communications technology program and ensure
that first responders obtain the technology. The first element of that function
(development of a program) has shifted to ODP as a result of a provision included in the
Intelligence Reform Act; the 2004 statute does retain authority in EPR to ensure that first
responders acquire the technology.25
In summary, since enactment of the HSA, 11 preparedness functions or authorities
have been transferred from EPR. The 2SR recommendation to transfer the remaining
preparedness authorities out of EPR arguably is not a radical shift in policy and continues
recent practices of Congress and the Bush Administration to reduce the preparedness
mission of EPR/FEMA. What might be more significant, however, are two other
emergency preparedness functions that involve EPR, those involving contingency
planning for the continued operation of the government and hazard warning systems.
Continuity of Government Operations. Authorities governing arrangements for
the continued operation of the federal government in the event of a national emergency
or catastrophe are specified in law, policy, and plans, some of which are not public
information given their sensitive and contingent status. These authorities provide for the
security and preservation of the senior elected and appointed officials of all three branches
of the federal government, and the reconstitution of departments and agencies following
an operational interruption. Continuity of government operations plans are designed to
ensure the survival of a constitutional form of government and the continuity of essential
Another federal preparedness issue related to the mission of EPR concerns the
process used to establish federal contingency plans to ensure the continuity of operations
(COOP) of federal agencies, and the role that DHS — specifically EPR — exercises in
23 U.S. Congress, Conference Committees, Making Appropriations for the Department of
Homeland Security for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2005, and for Other Purposes,thnd
conference report to accompany H.R. 4567, H.Rept. 108-774, 108 Cong., 2 sess.
(Washington: GPO, 2004), p. 62.
24 P.L. 108-360, 118 Stat. 1671.
25 Sec. 7303(h) of P.L. 108-458, 118 Stat. 3846-3847.
26 R. Eric Petersen of the Government and Finance Division, CRS, contributed to this
this process.27 An executive order issued by President Reagan, which serves as a principal
authority for federal contingency planning, requires that each federal agency mobilize for,
respond to, and recover from a national security emergency.28 This executive order, as
amended, charges EPR with 12 functions related to federal emergency preparedness,
including (1) coordinating and supporting federal emergency preparedness programs and
plans, (2) coordinating and implementing COOP plans for the federal government,
guiding and assisting non-federal planning efforts, and (3) coordinating exercises related
to national security.29 Under this authority, EPR responsibility has been summarized by
one Administration official in testimony before Congress as follows:
FEMA, through my office [Office of National Security Coordination, or ONSC],
serves as the lead agent for the federal executive branch’s continuity of operations
(COOP) and Continuity of Government (COG) programs and as the executive agent
for the national-level Emergency Alert System (EAS)....As such, we are working in
close cooperation with the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection (IAIP)30
directorate to facilitate coordinated efforts within the department.
In order to carry out this mission, FEMA issued the Federal Preparedness Circular
(FPC) 65 that “provides guidance to federal executive branch departments and agencies
for use in developing contingency plans and programs for continuity of operations
(COOP).”31 The circular states the mission of ONSC is to “formulate guidance and
establish common standards for agencies to use in developing viable, executable COOP
plans; facilitate interagency coordination as appropriate; and oversee and assess the status32
of COOP capabilities of federal executive branch agencies.” Federal agencies must
27 For information on COOP activities, see CRS Report RL32752, Continuity of Operations
(COOP) in the Executive Branch: Issues in the 109th Congress, and CRS Report RL31857,
Executive Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP): An Overview, by R. Eric Petersen.
28 “Each department and agency shall support interagency coordination to improve
preparedness and response to a national security emergency and shall develop and maintain
decentralized capabilities wherever feasible and appropriate.... Emergency plans and
programs, and an appropriate state of readiness, including organizational infrastructure, shall
be developed as an integral part of the continuing activities of each federal department and
agency.” U.S. President (Reagan), “Assignment of Emergency Preparedness
Responsibilities,” Executive Order 12656, Federal Register, vol 53, Nov. 18, 1988, p.
29 Ibid., Part 17.
30 Statement of Reynold N. Hoover, Director, Office of National Security Coordination,
Department of Homeland Security, before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation, Subcommittee on Disaster Prevention and Prediction, hearing on “All
Hazards Alert Systems,” July 27, 2005, available at
[http://commerce.senate.gov/hearings/witnesslist.cfm?id=1591], visited Aug. 1, 2005.
31 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency,
Federal Preparedness Circular (FPC 65) (Washington: 2004), available at
[http://www.fema.gov/onsc/docs/fpc_65.pdf], visited May 20, 2005.
32 Ibid., p. 3.
undertake COOP activities to assure the continuation of essential services in the event of
The 2SR documentation released by the Administration does not specify whether
ONSC would remain in FEMA or transfer to the new Preparedness Directorate (PD) or
the Office of Operations Coordination (OOC). It might be argued that the COOP
functions could be viewed as extensions of either of the new entities, or they might be
subsumed by the Secretary. Despite the assignment of duties in E.O. 12656 to FEMA,
it would be difficult to argue that this preparedness function should remain with the
response and recovery missions presented in the 2SR proposal. Congress might wish to
obtain further information to evaluate the possible impact of transferring COOP and COG
functions out of EPR.
Hazard Warning Systems. Another preparedness function related to the EPR
mission that could become part of the debate concerns the role of FEMA or other DHS
entities in the development of warning systems. The Homeland Security Act (HSA)
contains two authorities pertinent to hazard warning systems. First, Title II authorizes the
Under Secretary of Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection to administer the
Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) that provides warnings and information to
the public and to state and local governments.34 Second, Title V authorizes the Under
Secretary of EPR to administer a different warning system, the Integrated Hazard
Information System (IHIS). The IHIS, or FIRESAT system, as it was renamed by the
HSA, was intended to enhance the preparedness functions by improving “efforts to
identify threats (specifically wildfires) as soon as possible.” However, as already noted,
IHIS provided no resources to the directorate when it was transferred to EPR.35
Throughout the 108th Congress, neither the Administration nor Congress evinced interest
in this authority. Considerable interest, by comparison, focused on the shortcomings of
the HSAS, the warning system outside EPR’s jurisdiction.36
33 For a discussion of agency plans and authorities, see CRS Report RL31857, Executive
Branch Continuity of Operations (COOP): An Overview, by R. Eric Petersen.
34 Sec. 201(d)(7) of P.L. 107-296, 6 U.S.C. 121(d)(7). The HSAS was first established in
U.S. President (Bush), “Homeland Security Presidential Directive-3,” Mar. 11, 2002.
35 A comment made by Senator Lieberman during a recent hearing is notable in this regard:
“Nor can we tolerate a department where the officials responsible for overseeing and
managing don’t have adequate resources at their disposal to get the job done, because if we
give them authority but not resources to get the job done, we’re still setting them up for
failure. And their failure, of course, is at our peril.” Outlook for the Department of
Homeland Security, Jan. 26, 2005. In evaluating the need to support FIRESAT, Congress
might elect to consider the hazards threat information available through the Interagency
Modeling and Atmospheric Assessment Center (IMAAC). As specified in the National
Response Plan, the Center serves as “the single source” on the dispersion of hazardous
releases in the atmosphere.
36 Background on the HSAS and issues associated with the system are discussed in CRS
Report RL32023, Homeland Security Advisory System: Possible Issues for Congressional
Oversight, by Shawn Reese. See also U.S. Congress, House Committee on Government
Reform, Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations,th
Homeland Security Advisory System: Threat Codes and Public Responses, hearing, 108
Interest in the issue of the efficacy of hazard warning systems increased in the
opening days of the 109th Congress in the aftermath of the tsunami that struck 12 countries
in southeast Asia and killed approximately 250,000 persons on December 26, 2004. The
Senate has acted on legislation to improve warning systems.37 The documentation on the
2SR recommendation does not address the Administration’s plans for FIRESAT, the
HSAS, or warning systems generally.
Emergency Response Authorities. In addition to the preparedness matters
reviewed above, Members of Congress might elect to consider the impact of the 2SR
reorganization on the response functions. Secretary Chertoff has indicated that response
and recovery will remain as the functions to be administered by FEMA. Compared to the
seemingly constant criticism leveled at FEMA in the 1980s and early 1990s, the disaster
response efforts of FEMA were generally praised. After initial difficulties encountered
in the early years of the agency’s existence, FEMA gained a reputation for being a
successful coordinator and provider of response and recovery operations. However, in
Florida. These concerns, however, pale in comparison to the questions being raised
about the response to Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf States. Secretary Chertoff’s
pronouncement that response and recovery missions represent the “core” elements of
FEMA might arguably reflect a viewpoint that the agency is a primary provider of relief
after the President issues a major disaster or emergency declaration and exercises a lesser
role in other emergency management fields.
Since enactment of the HSA, some changes have taken place in the EPR response
functions, and questions might be raised about others. The following subsections review
two issues associated with the response authorities of EPR, the development and
implementation of the National Response Plan and the vitality of EPR/FEMA response
National Response Plan. The framework that guides the federal response efforts
after a catastrophe overwhelms state and local authorities is the National Response Plan
Cong., 2nd sess., Mar. 16, 2004 (Washington: 2004).
37 Two bills have been approved by the Senate. S. 50 would enhance the tsunami warning
system administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in
the Department of Commerce. S. 361 would authorize NOAA to serve as the lead federal
agency for an ocean and coastal observation system.
38 Certain elements of the response to the four Florida hurricanes in the fall of 2004 raised
concerns about the process used by FEMA to contract out damage assessment inspectors and
allocate funding. In addition, some have questioned decisions made in the distribution of
assistance in Florida after the four hurricanes of 2004. See U.S. Senate, Homeland Security
and Governmental Affairs Committee, FEMA’s Response to the 2004 Hurricanes in
Florida: Were There Adequate Safeguards Against Waste, Fraud, and Abuse?, hearing Maythst
18, 2005, 109 Cong., 1 sess. Questions have also be raised with regard to the assistance
provided to victims of Hurricane Isabel. See U.S. Congress, House Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public
Buildings and Emergency Management, The Federal Response to Hurricane Isabel, hearing,thst
(NRP).39 EPR retains primary responsibility for administration of the NRP, an
interagency agreement that assigns responsibilities for activities should the President issue
a major disaster or emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and
Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act),40 or determine that an “Incident of National
Significance” has occurred.41 According to Secretary Chertoff’s announcement on August
30, 2005, Hurricane Katrina resulted in the first declaration that an Incident of National
Significance had occurred.
The NRP was released by Secretary Ridge in December 2004 after a period of
consultation with federal and non-federal officials. While the HSA authorized the EPR
Under Secretary to assume responsibility for development of the National Response Plan
(NRP),42 reports indicate that other DHS executives reportedly exercised leadership in this
matter.43 Despite the congressional mandate in Title V of the HSA that development of
the NRP would be an EPR (FEMA) responsibility, the exact role of directorate officials
in the national plan might be subject to question. Members of Congress might elect to
investigate the compliance of DHS officials with the statutory requirement concerning the
development of the NRP, and whether other DHS officials who exercised leadership in
the development of the plan might be tasked under the reorganization with its
implementation. For example, one might argue that the proposed Office of Operations
Coordination (OOC) could exercise a role in the implementation of the NRP.
Emergency Response Entities. In contrast to the disagreement in 2002 over
whether terrorism preparedness activities would remain in FEMA, the 107th Congress and
the Administration agreed to keep response activities in FEMA. It might be argued that
Congress intended to more fully integrate federal response capabilities in EPR. The
statute transferred the functions and assets of the National Domestic Preparedness Office
(NDPO), the Domestic Emergency Support Team (DEST), the Office of Emergency
Preparedness (OEP), and, to a limited extent, the Nuclear Incident Response Team
(NIRT).44 The consolidation of these response capabilities into EPR contrasts with the
39 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, The National Response Plan, available at
[http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interapp/editorial/editorial_0566.xml], visited Feb. 1, 2005.
For background on the NRP see CRS Report RL32803, The National Preparedness System:th
Issues in the 109 Congress, by Keith Bea. The term “Incident of National Significance”
is defined in the NRP (see p. 67).
40 42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.
41 The NRP defines an “Incident of National Significance” as an “actual or potential high-
impact event that requires a coordinated and effective response by an appropriate
combination of federal, state, local, tribal, nongovernmental, and/or private-sector entities
in order to save lives and minimize damage, and provide the basis for long-term community
recovery and mitigation activities. See U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National
Response Plan, p. 67.
42 Sec. 502, P.L. 107-296, 6 U.S.C. 312.
43 For example, see Eileen Sullivan, “When Building Anti-Terror Plans, Success Is Only
Option,” Federal Times, May 17, 2004, p. 22. Martin Edwin Andersen, “Local Officials
Howl at DHS Emergency Management Plan,” CQ Homeland Security, Aug. 8, 2003.
44 As noted on page 8 of this report few resources appear to have been allocated to, and
decision to remove terrorism preparedness from FEMA’s jurisdiction and indicates
support for the directorate’s response mission.
Questions might be raised, however, about the extent to which these resources
provide value to the response mission of EPR. The HSA transferred authority for DEST
and NDPO to EPR, but scant information exists on the plans for deploying DEST, and
unknown resources are attached to the operations or needs of the teams. The NRP
provides that “Nothing in the NRP alters the existing DEST concept of operation or
affects the mission of the DEST to support the FBI SAC [special agent in charge] at the
scene of a weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat or incident.”45 The NRP does not
discuss a role for the NDPO.
Since the Secretary has asserted that FEMA will retain response authority under the
2SR recommendation, one might surmise that implementation will not affect the DEST
role in the NRP. However, no information has been released by DHS to indicate whether
the DEST function will be reinforced or supported by DHS if it remains in FEMA after
the reorganization, or whether modification of the HSA will be sought to change the
DEST reference in the statute.
Under the Concept of Operations Plan (generally referred to as CONPLAN), which
has been superseded by the NRP, the FBI was authorized to “form and coordinate the
deployment of a DEST with other agencies, when appropriate, and seek appropriate
federal support based on the nature of the situation.”46 Under CONPLAN, the inter-
agency aspects of DEST could be used to help the FBI Special Agent-in-Charge (SAC)
at the scene of a disaster understand federal capabilities available for defusing terrorist
threats, including those involving chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.47 In the past,
DEST interagency resources were used to enhance crisis management activities, such as
information management and technical assistance, and to meet equipment needs.
The HSA vests responsibility for managing and coordinating the federal response
(including DEST, the Strategic National Stockpile, NDMS, NIRT, and overseeing the
Metropolitan Medical Response System, or MMRS) to disasters and terrorist attacks with
the Under Secretary of EPR.48 Under HSPD-5, the Secretary of DHS “is the principal
federal official for domestic incident management.”49 HSPD-5 also provides that the
directive does not alter the authority of federal officers to perform their statutory duty, and
that the Attorney General “has lead responsibility for criminal investigations” of terrorist
previously little authority vested in, DEST or NDPO activities.
45 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Response Plan, p. 34.
46 CONPLAN United States Government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concept of
Operations Plan (Washington: 2001), p. 3.
47 Ibid., p. 28.
48 6 U.S.C. 312(3). As noted elsewhere in this report, authority over the stockpile has
shifted back to HHS.
49 U.S. President (Bush), “Management of Domestic Incidents,” Homeland Security
Presidential Directive-5, Feb. 28, 2003.
threats and actions. Congress might elect to examine whether the DEST or NDPO
functions would change or be augmented under the proposed reorganization.
Also, the Secretary has announced that a Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
(DNDO) would report directly to the Secretary. The DNDO would “develop and deploy
the next generation of systems that will allow us to detect and intercept a nuclear threat.”50
Congress might elect to consider the relationship of the DNDO to the coordination of
Recovery Authorities. Concerns have been expressed that FEMA’s role in the
recovery process is limited to the short term and deficient on the long-term needs of
communities.51 Congress might elect to consider the need for legislation to authorize52
FEMA’s long-term recovery efforts. The 2SR documentation provided by the Secretary
of DHS does not provide information on how the proposal might affect the recovery
mission of FEMA.
Hazard Mitigation. Federal hazard or catastrophe mitigation policies have been
enacted by Congress or created through administrative action for decades. Three hazard
programs are administered by FEMA — the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (also
referred to as Section 404),53 the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program,54 and the Flood55
Mitigation Assistance program. The documentation released by Secretary Chertoff on
the 2SR initiatives provides no information on the disposition of these, or other, hazard
mitigation activities administered within EPR.
Authorities of Other Federal Agencies. As noted in the discussion on the
evolution of emergency management policy later in this report, neither the consolidation
of authorities into FEMA in 1978 nor the consolidation into DHS in 2003 brought a
“comprehensive emergency management” and “all hazards” policy framework into one
administrative entity. While some authorities were consolidated into FEMA, many
remained vested in operational agencies. One means of identifying the homeland security
50 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Secretary Michael Chertoff U.S. Department of
Homeland Security Second Stage Review Remarks (Washington: 2005).
51 One writer has opined that “a sea of blue tarps on houses with missing roofs will remain
as FEMA’s response signature.” See SEMP Biot #241, The Incredible Shrinking FEMA,
available at [http://www.semp.us/biots/biot_241.html], visited Aug. 5, 2005. For a
discussion of FEMA’s efforts at long-term recovery in certain communities, see Denise
Kersten, “Out of the Ruins,” Government Executive, available at
[http://www.govexec.com/features/0705-15/0705-15s3.htm], visited Aug. 22, 2005.
52 Title V of P.L. 93-288, the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (88 Stat. 160-163) authorized the
President to provide economic recovery assistance “after the period of emergency aid and
replacement of essential facilities and services.” Congress never funded this authority and
it was repealed in the 1998 amendments (see Sec. 102(c) of P.L. 105-393, 112 Stat. 3617).
The Secretary of Commerce, however, is authorized to undertake disaster economic
recovery activities. See 42 U.S.C. 3149(c)(2).
53 Sec. 404 of the Stafford Act, 42 U.S.C. 5170c.
54 42 U.S.C. 5133.
55 42 U.S.C. 4104c.
authorities of agencies other than DHS is the list of “Sector-Specific Agencies” identified
by presidential directive as retaining the following policy responsibilities:
!Department of Agriculture — agriculture, food (meat, poultry, egg
!Department of Health and Human Services — public health, healthcare,
and food (other than meat, poultry, egg products);
!Department of Energy — energy, including the production, refining,
storage, and distribution of oil and gas, and electric power except for
commercial nuclear power facilities;
!Department of the Treasury — banking and finance;
!Department of the Interior — national monuments and icons; and
!Department of Defense — defense industrial base.56
This list of sector specific agencies is not comprehensive. Homeland security
authorities arguably related to the mission of DHS (and arguably extensions of the normal
operations of other departments or agencies) remain dispersed among the federal agencies.
Table 2 identifies statutory authorities that endow entities other than DHS with
emergency preparedness responsibilities. The statutory authorities listed in Table 2
provide a broader picture of the homeland security or emergency management authorities
exercised by federal entities other than DHS.57
Table 2. Statutory Emergency Authorities of Federal Agencies
Other Than Department of Homeland Security
Organization or OfficialCitationTask or Authority
Dept. of Agriculture7 U.S.C. 1926aemergency water infrastructure aid
7 U.S.C. 1961disaster loan
7 U.S.C. 2273search and rescue assistance
16 U.S.C. 2106fire suppression
16 U.S.C. 2201repair from winds
Dept. of Commerce16 U.S.C. 1455coastal flood management
42 U.S.C. 3149disaster recovery assistance
56 U.S. President (Bush), “Critical Infrastructure Identification, Prioritization, and
Protection,” Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-7 (Washington: 2003), Sec.
57 Database search assistance provided by Thomas Carr of the Government and Finance
Division, CRS. In addition to the authorities listed in Table 1, other statutory provisions
have a bearing on an examination of federal emergency authorities. For example, liability
provisions for oil spill disasters associated with “Acts of God” are set out in 33 U.S.C. 2701
et seq. Rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 533, may be
found inapplicable under emergency situations, pursuant to court rulings reported in the
Notes section. The information in Table 1 excludes emergencies solely pertinent to war-
Organization or OfficialCitationTask or Authority
National Institute of15 U.S.C. 7301building standards
National Oceanic and15 U.S.C. 313cflood warning
Dept. of Defense10 U.S.C. 138homeland security coordination
10 U.S.C. 371law enforcement assistance
10 U.S.C. 382weapons of mass destruction
32 U.S.C. 503seismic vulnerability
50 U.S.C. 2301emergency preparedness assistance
50 U.S.C. 2314emergency response team
Corps of Engineers33 U.S.C. 426pflood emergency aid
33 U.S.C. 467dam safety
33 U.S.C. 701nemergency response
33 U.S.C. 709aflood hazards
33 U.S.C. 2332flood hazards
33 U.S.C. 2240 port emergencies
33 U.S.C. 2293civil works management
Dept. of Education20 U.S.C. 1065emergency fund use
20 U.S.C. 6337emergency waiver authority
20 U.S.C. 7138school crises
20 U.S.C. 7217emergency waiver authority
20 U.S.C. 7428emergency waiver authority
20 U.S.C. 9251emergency waiver authority
Dept. of Energy16 U.S.C. 824a(c)energy emergencies
42 U.S.C. 6323energy emergencies
42 U.S.C. 7270cfacility vulnerability
42 U.S.C. 7274demergency training
42 U.S.C. 10137emergency training
Dept. of Health and Human42 U.S.C. 247dpublic health emergency
Services42 U.S.C. 243quarantines, public health plans
42 U.S.C. 239smallpox response
42 U.S.C. 249medical care for those quarantined
42 U.S.C. 267quarantine stations
42 U.S.C. 300hhnational stockpile
42 U.S.C. 8621emergency energy aid
42 U.S.C. 1320bwaiver authority
42 U.S.C. 3030elderly assistance
Dept. of Housing and Urban12 U.S.C. 1701nreduce attack vulnerability
Development12 U.S.C. 1709mortgage assistance
42 U.S.C. 3539disaster fund
42 U.S.C. 5306reallocation of funds
42 U.S.C. 5321waiver authority
Organization or OfficialCitationTask or Authority
Dept. of the Interior16 U.S.C. 1011watershed protection
42 U.S.C. 5204disaster recovery plans
43 U.S.C. 502-503emergency fund for reclamation
Public Lands Corps16 U.S.C. 1723disaster prevention and relief
Dept. of Justice (Attorney20 U.S.C. 7138school safety
General)42 U.S.C. 10501law enforcement aid
Dept. of Labor29 U.S.C. 2918emergency grants
Dept. of Transportation23 U.S.C. 125emergency funds
23 U.S.C. 310civil defense
23 U.S.C. 502seismic vulnerability
33 U.S.C. 1225structure protection
33 U.S.C. 1226vessel protection
49 U.S.C. 60132(c)emergency pipeline response
49 U.S.C. 5102hazardous material transportation
50 U.S.C. 191vessels in emergency situations
Dept. of the Treasury19 U.S.C. 1318emergency authority
26 U.S.C. 5708disaster loss aid
29 U.S.C. 1148 waiver authority
29 U.S.C. 1302waiver authority
42 U.S.C. 2414flood insurance funding
Dept. of Veterans Affairs38 U.S.C. 1785medical assistance
38 U.S.C. 8117public health emergencies
38 U.S.C. 7325medical response plans
38 U.S.C. 7326emergency training
38 U.S.C. 8105facility safety
38 U.S.C. 8111Ahealth care provision
Corporation for National and24 U.S.C. 12576disaster relief
Environmental Protection42 U.S.C. 300gwater safety after disasters
Agency42 U.S.C. 300ivulnerability assessment
42 U.S.C. 300jpreparedness grants
42 U.S.C. 7274dtraining grants
42 U.S.C. 9601environmental response
42 U.S.C. 9662water pollutants and emergencies
42 U.S.C. 11001hazardous material releases
Executive Office of the
Organization or OfficialCitationTask or Authority
President42 U.S.C. 217use of Public Health Service
42 U.S.C. 5170declaration authority
42 U.S.C. 5187fire suppression
42 U.S.C. 960hazardous substance releases
47 U.S.C. 606(c)control of radio stations
50 U.S.C. 2301weapons of mass destruction
50 U.S.C. 1621 -national emergencies
Homeland Security6 U.S.C.A. 491-496consultation, coordination
National Security50 U.S.C. 2352 -crisis management
Office of Science and42 U.S.C. 6613,advice, consultation
National Aeronautics and42 U.S.C. 2487technology for health needs
National Foundation on the
Arts and the Humanities
Institute of Museum and20 U.S.C. 9133waiver authority
National Nuclear Security50 U.S.C. 2401 -facility management
Admi nistration 2402
Nuclear Regulatory42 U.S.C. 2242(a)facility licenses
Office of Personnel5 U.S.C. 3110employment waivers
Small Business15 U.S.C. 631(e,g),disaster loans
Admi nistration 636d
U.S. House of
Office of Emergency2 U.S.C. 130iemergency management authority
All departments and agencies
Agency heads42 U.S.C. 1856bemergency fire assistance
Source: CRS examination of federal statutory authority.
Note: Table 2 does not identify presidential directives that assign responsibilities for and establish federal
policies pertinent to the mission of EPR. Some of these directives include Executive Orders 12241
(radiological emergencies), 12580 (hazardous substance releases), 12656 (federal emergency preparedness,
discussed in this report), 12777 (oil discharges), and 13016 (Superfund amendments).
Preparedness Authorities in Other Agencies. Counter-terrorism training58
programs and activities are administered by six departments other than DHS. At least
two departments have been reorganized to include emergency management functions at
the secretarial level to manage and lead emergency management policies and authorities
— the Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response within the Department
of Transportation, charged with administering the emergency preparedness and response
duties for the department,59 and the Office for Public Health Emergency Preparedness
within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which “directs and
coordinates HHS-wide” efforts related to bioterrorism and public health emergencies.60
According to HHS officials, President Bush has designated the latter as “the principal
federal agency for planning and coordinating response to mass casualty incidents.”61 In
addition to these offices, the statutory authorities of agencies other than EPR include
preparedness functions related to their basic mission.
!The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration of the
Department of Transportation administers regulations that direct owners
and operators of gas and hazardous liquid pipelines to develop62
emergency response plans and procedures. The regulations require that
responses to accidents and explosions must be coordinated with local
public officials and area utilities, to a degree comparable to the
coordination requirements established by DHS in the national63
!Most recently, Congress and President Bush agreed to enhance the
authority of the Department of Transportation to administer activities
associated with the transportation of hazardous material. Under Title VII
of H.R. 3, the Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (known as
58 See CRS Report RL32920, Federal Counter-Terrorism Training: Issues for
Congressional Oversight, coordinated by Shawn Reese.
59 U.S. Department of Transportation, “Organization and Delegation of Powers and Duties;
Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response,” Federal Register, vol. 70, Feb.
60 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Office of Public Health Emergency
Preparedness Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of Authority,” Federal
Register, vol. 70, Feb. 1, 2005, pp. 5183-5184.
61 Ibid., p. 5183.
62 49 U.S.C. 5103.
63 An advisory bulletin issued in the aftermath of fires and explosions that occurred in 1998
and 2003 addressed the “need for operators to plan with utilities on how to coordinate
actions needed in responding to a pipeline emergency.” See U.S. Department of
Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, “Pipeline Safety:
Planning for Coordination of Emergency Response to Pipeline Emergencies,” Federal
Register, vol. 70, no. 98, May 23, 2005, p. 29557. The pertinent regulation is found at 49
CFR 195.402(e), 403. For information on the national preparedness system, see CRS Reportth
RL32803, The National Preparedness System: Issues in the 109 Congress, by Keith Bea.
TEA-LU; P.L. 109-59), the Secretary of Transportation administers the
Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Fund and is to build a
hazardous material incident response system to help first-responders
prepare for such incidents.64
!The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of
Education, administers the Emergency Response and Crisis Management
Grant Program to help schools address “the four phases of crisis
planning: Prevention/Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and
Recovery.”65 Local educational agencies that develop plans under this
authority must coordinate the results with the appropriate state homeland
Response Authorities in Other Agencies. In addition to the response
authorities that have been, or might yet be, transferred from EPR or led by officials
outside of EPR, a wide range of federal authorities related to the mission of EPR are
administered by departments and agencies other than DHS. Two categories of authorities
might be examined by Congress in light of the 2SR reorganization proposal — the
allocation of responsibility for emergency medical policy and the role of military forces
in responding to incidents of national significance.
Federal Response Capabilities. A wide range of response teams are operated by66
federal agencies to expedite assistance after a disaster or attack. The response to a
catastrophic event, or an “incident of national significance,” as the term is used in the
National Response Plan, involves a complex series of simultaneous or sequential events
involving multiple agencies, levels of government, and non-governmental entities. Many
federal agencies, including DHS, are involved in the coordination of federal response
According to the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability
Office), by late 2000, eight federal agencies hosted 24 teams charged with responding to
incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.67 The establishment of an Office of
Coordination (OC) and retention of FEMA with core disaster response authorities may
raise questions about the range of federal emergency response capabilities. Such
64 The Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Fund is authorized at 49 U.S.C.
65 U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, “Overview
Information, Emergency Response and Crisis Management Grant Program; Notice Inviting
Applications for New Awards for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005,” Federal Register, vol. 70, June
66 This report does not examine response teams primarily composed of non-federal personnel
but supported with federal funds, notably the Metropolitan Medical Response System
(MMRS) teams, discussed at [https://www.mmrs.fema.gov/default.aspx], and Urban Search
and Rescue teams, discussed at [http://www.fema.gov/usr/], both visited Aug. 18, 2005.
67 U.S. General Accounting Office, Combating Terrorism: Federal Response Teams Provide
Varied Capabilities; Opportunities Remain to Improve Coordination, GAO Report GAO-
01-14 (Washington: Nov. 30, 2000), p. 4. The data in this report have not been updated by
capabilities involve the response teams administered by federal agencies as well as the
coordination units charged with ensuring that federal response efforts are used effectively.
Table 3 provides summary information on 36 federal response teams and coordination
units involved in consequence management. The list is not intended to be comprehensive;
it does include the units identified from a search of the sources noted at the end of the
Table 3. Federal Consequence Management Response Resources
Summary of taskCitation for further
Department of Defense
Joint Task Force for Civil SupportPlans and integrates DOD[http://www.jtfcs.nort
support for domestichcom.mil/pages/missi
Radiological, Nuclear, and
high yield Explosive
Army Special MedicalProvides technical advicePart of the U.S. Army
Augmentation Response Teamconcerning hazardousMedical Department;
material used in a terroristsee
event [ h t t p : / / www.a r my.mi l
Marine Corps Chemical-BiologicalHelps state and local[http://www.cbirf.us
Incident Response Forceagencies identify WMDsmc.mil/]
and manage consequences
Army Radiological AdvisoryProvides radiological healthPart of the U.S. Army
Medical Teamhazard guidanceMedical Department;
[ h t t p : / / www.a r my.mi l
68 Table 3 constitutes a partial listing of federal response teams and coordination centers.
Some are not listed because they are region specific and operated by one agency, such as the
National Capital Response Team operated by the FBI and the teams established by DOD for
the National Capital Region through Joint Task Forces East, West, or Headquarters-National
Capital Region, in the Washington, DC area. Others, such as the Coast Guard Strike Force,
the Army’s Technical Escort Unit, and the Air Force Disaster Preparedness/Full Spectrum
Threat Response community are not listed because scant information on those entities is
Summary of taskCitation for further
Weapons of Mass Destruction-Associated with the Army[http://www.globalse
Civil Support Teams (WMD-and Air National Guard forcurity.org/military/ag
CSTs)each state, assist state andency/army/wmd-cst.h
local responders withtm]
medical and technical
Air Force Installation DisasterProvides Installation Full[http://www.e-publis
Response ForceSpectrum Threat Response hing.af.mil/pubfiles/a
support in areas stricken byf/10/afi10-2501/afi10
Consequence ManagementProvides scientific and[http://www.dtra.mil/
Advisory Team (CMAT)technical analysis of anpress_resources/fact_
Department of Energy
Accident Response Group (ARG)Deploys to the scene of a[http://www.doeal.go
nuclear weapons accidentv/opa/Emergency%20
Department of Health and Human Services
National Medical Response TeamsDecontaminates casualties[http://www.ndms.dh
(include the following needfrom a hazardous materialshs.gov/]
Disaster Medical AssistanceProvides medical care[http://www.ndms.dh
Team (DMAT)during a disasterhs.gov/dmat.html]
Disaster Mortuary OperationalIdentifies victims and[http://www.ndms.dh
Response Team (DMORT)provides mortuary serviceshs.gov/dmort.html]
after a disaster
Veterinary Medical AssistanceProvides veterinary services[http://www.ndms.dh
Team (VMAT)after a disasterhs.gov/vmat.html]
National Nurse Response TeamProvides a supply of nurses[http://www.ndms.dh
(NNRT)in response to a WMD evenths.gov/nnrt.html]
Strategic National StockpileTransports essential[http://www.bt.cdc.go
pharmaceuticals in responsev/stockpile/]
to public health emergencies
Summary of taskCitation for further
Chemical/Biological RapidProvides medical care to[http://mmrs.fema.go
Response Teamchemical or biologicalv/PublicDocs/C-BH
Department of Energy
Nuclear Emergency Support TeamIdentifies nuclear material,[http://www.nv.doe.g
(NEST)assesses threat, rendersov/nationalsecurity/h
material safe, and transportsomelandsecurity/nest.
it from sitehtm]
Radiological Assistance ProgramEvaluates and assists in[http://www.lm.doe.g
Teamsevents that involve radiationov/rap/program_infor
risks and hazardsmation.htm]
Radiation Emergency AssistanceProvides direct or indirect[http://www.orau.gov
Center/Training Site (REAC/TS)medical care to radiation/reacts/intro.htm]
Department of Homeland Security
Emergency Response Team (ERT)Provides for theNational Response
coordination of federalPlan, p. 40
response and recovery
activities, includes ERT-A
(advance element to identify
state needs immediately
after a disaster), Federal
Incident Response Support
Team (FIRST, a forward
component of the ERT-A),
and ERT-N (National ERT
that deploys for large-scale
incidents), and other
components that provide
specific skills and resources
Incident Management TeamsFunction at state and[http://www.usfa.fem
(IMT)regional levels as part of ana.gov/subjects/incide
incident command structurent/imt/imt-summary.s
at complex disastershtm]
International Medical SurgicalProvides medical and[http://www.fema.go
Response Team (IMSuRT)surgical treatment facilitiesv/preparedness/resour
Summary of taskCitation for further
Urban Search and Rescue TaskProvides search and rescue[http://www.fema.go
Forces (US&R)service at the site of av/usr/]
U.S. Coast GuardProvides response and[http://www.uscg.mil/
recovery assistance after oilhq/g-m/nmc/response
spills on navigable waters/index.htm#OSRO]
Department of Veterans Affairs
Medical Emergency RadiologicalDeploys patient treatment[http://www1.va.gov/
Response Team (MERRT)and technical advice at thevhapublications/View
scene of a radiologicalPublication.asp?pub_
incident or disasterID=310]
Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Radiological EmergencyProvides scientific and[http://www.epa.gov/
Response Team (EPA/RERT)technical assistance inradiation/rert/respond
EPA Environmental ResponseProvides technical and[http://www.ert.org/]
Team (EPA/ERT)logistical assistance in
response to environmental
emergencies and hazardous
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Nuclear Incident Response TeamsProvides personnel and[http://www.dhs.gov/
(NIRT)equipment to accompany thedhspublic/display?the
federal response to nuclearme=17&content=368
Coordination Teams and Capabilities
Department of Defense
Air Force Contract AugmentationExpedites support for[http://www.afcap.co
Program (AFCAP)military operations otherm/capabilities/capabil
than war (MOOTW) andities01.html]
contingencies arising from
disasters or attacks
Department of Energy
Federal Radiological MonitoringIn early phase of a[http://www.nv.doe.g
and Assessment Centerradiological emergency,ov/nationalsecurity/h
monitors and coordinatesomelandsecurity/frma
assessment of hazardc.htm]
Summary of taskCitation for further
Department of Health and Human Services
Management Support TeamsProvides support and control[http://www.fema.go
(MSTs)for NDMS teams deployedv/preparedness/resour
at a disaster siteces/health_med/ndms
Department of Homeland Security
Forward coordinating teamResponsible for the initialno source identified
coordination of federal
resources at a disaster site
Interagency Incident ManagementFacilitates strategic federalNational Response
Group (IIMG)domestic incidentPlan, page 22-24
management, activated by
Joint Field Office (JFO)Established in the area inNational Response
which an incident ofPlan, page 28-38
national significance has
occurred; serves as a
multiagency center to
operations; headed by the
principal federal official
(PFO); and includes state
coordinating officer, FBI
special agent in charge, a
federal coordinating officer
(FCO), and sections as
Department of Justice
Strategic Information andCrisis management and[http://www.fbi.gov/h
Operations Center (SIOC)operational center operatedq/siocfs.htm]
by at FBI headquarters on a
Joint Operations Center (JOC)Operated by FBI at the
scene of a crisis to
coordinate functional groups
deemed necessary with state
and local agencies, which
could include a DEST
Environmental Protection Agency
On-Scene CoordinatorsMonitors and directs[http://www.epa.gov/
responses to oil spills andsuperfund/programs/e
hazardous material releasesr/nrs/nrsosc.htm]
Sources: CRS examination of various sources, including U.S. Government Accountability Office,
Combating Terrorism: Federal Response Teams Provide Varied Capabilities; Opportunities Remain to
Improve Coordination, GAO Report GAO-01-14 (Washington: Nov. 30, 2000). U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Mutual Aid and Resources
Management Initiative Glossary of Terms and Definitions (Washington: July 2005), available at
[http://www.fema.gov/pdf/preparedness/507_Mutual_Aid_Glossary.pdf], visited Aug. 18, 2005. Al
Mozingo, “Tapping Federal Resources: Activation & Deployment of Federal Assets to WMD Incidents,”
Homeland First Response, vol. 2, Sept./Oct. 2004, pp. 28-31. Amy E. Smithson and Leslie-Anne Levy,
Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological Terrorism Threat and the U.S. Response (Washington: The Henry
L. Stimson Center, Oct. 2000). U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Emergency Teams in
Federal Disaster Operations, 9350.1-HB (Washington: July 1999). Telephone conversation with officials
associated with the Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency, Aug. 23, 2005.
In light of the Secretary’s proposal to focus FEMA on the response (and recovery)
mission, two areas require further discussion — emergency medical response and
Department of Defense resources and authorities.
Emergency Medical Response. EPR exercises responsibility for federal
emergency health authorities, including serving as the lead federal agency for the Federal
Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) and administering the
National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).69 Some related authorities, however, have
been retained by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). For example,
under authority of the Public Health Service Act, the HHS Secretary may take specified70
action in the event that a “disease or disorder presents a public health emergency.”
Much of this authority is administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC). As noted on the CDC website, the activities pursued under the public health
emergency statute not only address immediate threats to health (for example, epidemics
and chemical or biological attacks), but also include the impacts of explosions and natural
disasters.71 Just as EPR (like FEMA traditionally) has had an “all-hazards” approach to
emergencies, the PHSA authority is used to marshal HHS resources for many, if not all,
hazards that present significant health threats.
Incorporation of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), previously
administered by OEP when it was part of HHS, has enhanced EPR’s response capabilities.
NDMS is a partnership of four departments (DHS, HHS, Defense, and Veterans Affairs)
as well as non-federal entities. The transfer of NDMS from HHS, however, may not have
resulted in the transfer of comprehensive medical response authority to DHS. For
example, HHS announced in early 2005 that its Office of Public Health Emergency
Preparedness “is the principal federal agency for planning and coordinating response to
69 The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS), chaired
by U.S. Fire Administration officials, “serves as a forum to establish and facilitate effective
communications and coordination between and among Federal departments and agencies
involved in activities related to EMS.” See FICEMS website at
[http://www.usfa.fema.gov/subjects/ems/ficems.shtm], visited Aug. 4, 2005. For
background on NDMS, see CRS Report RL31719, An Overview of the U.S. Public Health
System in the Context of Emergency Preparedness, by Sarah A. Lister.
70 42 U.S.C. 247d.
71 See “Emergency Preparedness and Response” at [http://www.bt.cdc.gov/], visited June
mass casualty incidents.” The office includes an Office of Mass Casualty Planning
responsible for mobile medical units and other resources that appear to be similar to
NDMS capabilities as well as the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) teams
funded through the SLGCP office within DHS.72
Military Response Activities. Some emergency response duties are vested in the
Department of Defense (DOD), including the active duty forces, Armed Forces Reserves,
and the National Guard units.73 The active duty, and reserve forces when activated,
respond to enemy threats to defend the United States and are generally authorized to meet
“homeland defense” responsibilities set out in Title 10 of the United States Code.74 Army
and Air National Guard units serve under authority of their governors, and their state
laws, unless called into federal service by the President.75 Under their state authority,
National Guard units have historically helped provide disaster assistance, maintain civil
order, and meeting emergency needs.76 Recent amendments to the federal statute
governing the National Guard authorize the Secretary of Defense to issue regulations
72 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Secretary, “Office of Public
Health Emergency Preparedness Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of
Authority,” Federal Register, vol. 70, Feb. 1, 2005, pp. 5183-5184. For information on
NDMS, see “National Disaster Medical System” at the HHS website,
[http://www.ndms.dhhs.gov/], visited Feb. 1, 2005. The seal of DHS appears on the NDMS
website. MMRS capabilities are discussed at [https://www.mmrs.fema.gov/default.aspx],
visited Aug. 12, 2005.
73 General information about these components is presented in CRS Report RL30802,
Reserve Component Personnel Issues: Questions and Answers, by Lawrence Kapp. For an
overview of basic duties of the components, see remarks of Peter Verga, Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense before the Defense Forum Foundation Forum on Homeland Defense,
available at CQ.com, June 17, 2005; available by subscription.
74 Title 10 authority related to emergency response needs in the United States includes the
provision of military aid to state governments in order to suppress insurrections (10 U.S.C.
331, 333) and assisting civilian agencies (10 U.S.C. 372-374). Regulations (32 CFR Part
Such aid, however, cannot compromise military preparedness (10 U.S.C. 376). Reserve
forces may be called to active duty by the President “at time of national emergency” (10
U.S.C. 12301-12302), but cannot be called to assist “in time of a serious natural or manmade
disaster, accident, or catastrophe” or insurrection (10 U.S.C. 12304(b)).
75 The “Militia of the several states” may be “called into the actual Service of the United
States” by the President (U.S. Constitution, Art. II, Sec. 2). Congress is authorized “To
provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections
and repel Invasions” (U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 8). Federal law also provides for the
federalization of the Guard [10 U.S.C. 12406]. National Guard members called to active
duty status are relieved from their state (or insular area) military role unless the President
authorizes service in both duty statuses and the governor consents to such dual service (32
U.S.C. 325). President Bush delegated to the Secretary of Defense the authority to approve
such dual status for the National Guard involved in security for the Group of Eight (G8)
Summit in June, 2004. See U.S. President, “Command and Control of National Guard for
76 See National Academy of Public Administration, The Role of the National Guard in
Emergency Preparedness and Response (Washington: 1997).
pertinent to, and reimburse Guard members for actions related to, “homeland defense
activity.”77 The conditions under which DOD forces provide support for purposes other
than law enforcement are set out in two department directives and other planning
documents discussed below.78
The Army Reserve and National Guard exercise the following emergency
management responsibilities, as summarized by one officer,
The Army Reserve Component and the National Guard have historically
performed missions related to the management of consequences after disasters strike.
The Army Reserve provides a wide range of response capabilities in the event of
natural or man-made disasters and attacks on the homeland, including almost 200
Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officers to local communities. The Army Reserve
has also fielded and trained 75 Chemical Decontamination Platoons with over 2,400
soldiers for mass casualty operations and more than 250 fully equipped Hazardous
Material (HAZMAT) technicians to train with local first-responder agencies (i.e.79
policy, firefighters, HAZMAT teams, emergency medical services, hospitals.
As evidenced by the three devastating hurricanes that hit Florida or the wildfires
that blazed through our western states during 2004, the National Guard is a crucial
element in a governor’s response to natural disasters. Similarly, the National Guard
has a prominent role in supporting local and state authorities in their efforts to manage80
the consequences of a domestic terrorist attack.
Certain law enforcement functions that might be associated with emergency
situations (seizure of persons, entering private structures, directing civilian movements)81
cannot be undertaken by the active duty and reserve armed forces. The lines of authority
and responsibility, however, are not always evident. DOD provides considerable support82
to civil (state and local) authorities overwhelmed by catastrophes. According to the joint
force doctrine released by DOD, the department provides military assistance to civil
77 The term is defined as “an activity undertaken for the military protection of the territory
or domestic population of the United States, or of infrastructure or other assets of the United
States determined by the Secretary of Defense as being critical to national security, from a
threat or aggression against the United States.” 32 U.S.C. 901(1).
78 U.S. Department of Defense, “Military Support to Civil Authorities (MSCA),” DOD
Directive Number 3025.1, Jan. 15, 1993; “Military Assistance to Civil Authorities,” DOD
Directive Number 3025.15, Feb. 18, 1997.
79 See testimony of General Richard A. Cody, U.S. Army, before U.S. Congress, House
Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Army Force Strength,thst
hearing, 109 Cong., 1 sess., Feb. 2, 2005 (not yet printed).
81 Commonly referred to as the Posse Comitatus Act, the provision prohibits military activity
that could intrude on civil authorities unless specifically authorized. 18 U.S.C. 1385. See
CRS Report RS21012, Terrorism: Some Legal Restrictions on Military Assistance to
Domestic Authorities Following a Terrorist Attack, by Charles Doyle and Jennifer Elsea.
82 The perspectives of local government officials regarding the role of the Department of
Defense are presented in International Association of Emergency Managers, “Special Focus
Issue: Defense Support to Civil Authorities,” IAEM Bulletin, vol. 22, July 2005, entire issue.
authorities (MACA) to meet consequence management needs in the following three
!military support to civil authorities consisting of DOD support for “high-
profile emergencies” involving natural disasters, special events, or
accidental or intentional manmade disasters;”
!military support to civilian law enforcement agencies that “may include,
but is not limited to,” national special security events, support for
combating terrorism, support to assist in counterdrug operations,
maritime security, equipment or facility loans, and intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities;
!military assistance for civil disturbances to suppress insurrections,
rebellions, and riots, and help states maintain law and order.83
However, the boundaries between the military homeland defense and civil support
roles overlaps the homeland security roles of other entities.84 The overlap has been
represented by DOD in the following graphic.
83 U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Publication 3-26 Homeland Security (Washington:
visited Aug. 18, 2005. The doctrine notes that responsibility for assistance for civil
disturbances rests with the Attorney General.
84 Issues associated with the homeland security response roles of the Coast Guard, part of
DHS, and the U.S Navy, part of DOD, are discussed in CRS Report RS21230, Homeland
Security: Navy Operations — Background and Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke.
Figure 3. DOD Representation of Overlays Among Emergency
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Publication 3-26 Homeland Security (Washington: 2005),
available at [http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/dod/jp3_26.pdf], p. I-4, visited Aug. 23, 2005.
One year after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the Secretary of Defense established an
operations component to facilitate the response of the armed services in the United States.
The Northern Command, or NORTHCOM, is charged with deterring and defeating
attacks in the United States and its possessions. In addition, pursuant to congressional
directive, an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Security has been designated
the lead in Department of Defense (DOD) homeland security and homeland defense
missions. DOD resources would be available to help DHS respond to the needs of
overwhelmed state and local governments.85
85 For background and discussion of the NORTHCOM role, see CRS Report RL31615,
Homeland Security: The Department of Defense’s Role, by Steve Bowman. The civil
support role of the Department of Defense is discussed in U.S. Department of Defense,
Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support (Washington: 2005), available at
[http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jun2005/d20050630homeland.pdf], visited July 1, 2005.
While federal military resources have proven to be essential elements of response
efforts after a catastrophic disaster, questions have been raised about the full extent to
which these resources are coordinated with others. As noted by one witness before a
There is an appropriate role here for the Department of Defense. They’ve always said
that they’ll do that. The last thing that I want to see is the Department of Defense
figure out how they’re going to do catastrophic terrorism on the day after the
catastrophic terrorist attack. We need structures and forces in places now that are
designed to do this and do this well. I have argued in other places that if you built that
kind of capability right in the National Guard that you would actually have a very
useful force that could be useful for a range of homeland security missions and would
also be very useful for post-conflict operations overseas and would also be used for86
theater support operations overseas.
Also, as documentation, plans, and strategies for the role of NORTHCOM develop,
questions may be raised about the involvement of active duty forces within the United
States, and the manner in which those resources are coordinated with DHS units,87
including FEMA. As noted in the following excerpts from a news report, some DOD
officials envision a newer, broader role in domestic emergency situations.
Several people on the staff here [NORTHCOM headquarters in Colorado
Springs] and at the Pentagon said in interviews that the debate and analysis within the
U.S. government regarding the extent of the homeland threat and the resources
necessary to guard against it remain far from resolved.... William M. Arkin, a defense
specialist who has reported on the NORTHCOM’s war planning, said the evolution
of the Pentagon’s thinking reflects the recognition of an obvious gap in civilian88
The operational document released by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in August 2005,
describes the homeland security framework, mission areas, missions and related89
supporting operations, and enabling activities” for joint DOD operations.
HSPD-5 states that the directive does not impede the authority of the Secretary of
Defense who provides support to civil authorities at the direction of the President. The
directive also requires that “appropriate relationships and mechanisms for cooperation and
coordination” be developed between DHS and both DOJ and DOD. Additional work may
be required to establish fully coordinated relationships between DHS and DOD. As noted
in the Joint Armed Forces doctrine released by the Department of Defense:
86 Statement of James Carafano, Outlook for the Department of Homeland Security, Jan. 26,
87 Information about NORTHCOM is available at
[http://www.northcom.mil/index.cfm?fuseaction=news.factsheets#usnorthcom], visited Aug.
88 Bradley Graham, “War Plans Drafted to Counter Terror Attacks in U.S.,” The Washington
Post, Aug. 8, 2005, pp. A1, A7.
89 U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Publication 3-26 Homeland Security (Washington:
Defense support of civil authorities is a new term and is approved in the National
Response Plan and is not yet approved in Department of Defense (DOD) policy. Once
it is approved in DOD policy, it will likely replace civil support as the overarching
term for assistance to civil authorities. However, in the context of this publication,90
civil support is still used as the overarching term.
Issue Discussion, Questions and Responses
The final report issued by the former Inspector General for DHS (Clark Kent Ervin)
at the end of the 108th Congress included the following assessment: “Integrating its many
separate components into a single, effective, efficient, and economical department
remains one of DHS’ biggest challenges.”91 Comments reportedly made by other former,
as well as current, DHS officials, Members of Congress, and analysts indicate general
agreement on the need to meet this challenge.
Overview of Preparedness Issues. Some would agree with Secretary Chertoff’s
recommendation that preparedness and emergency operations functions should be taken
from EPR and consolidated into the proposed Preparedness Directorate (PD). A new
Preparedness Directorate would ensure that planning, training, simulations, and funding
are administered together. As summarized by the Secretary, “we believe that
preparedness and responder-training functions should be integrated into a dedicated
organization.”92 At a hearing held in the opening days of the 109th Congress, an author
of the Heritage report that reportedly stimulated much of the 2SR process spoke to the
separation of homeland security preparedness activities from response, as follows.
I would argue for a clear division of responsibilities between operators and
supporters.... Preparedness and response, I think, is one of them. Response is clearly
an operational function. You want the guy who’s in charge of response to be ready
to respond, to be thinking about responding and have that be the sole focus of the
organization commission. Preparedness, on the other hand, you could argue, is a93
One might argue that an important aspect of the proposal is that preparedness
functions would continue to be vested in one department, pursuant to the mandate of
Congress set out in the HSA and in presidential directives issued by President Bush since
September 2001. The proposed transfer of preparedness functions from EPR is consistent
with actions taken by Congress and the Administration since the establishment of DHS
to divest EPR of preparedness responsibilities and consolidate those authorities in one
federal department. Rather than visualizing FEMA as a separate entity that should
90 Ibid., p. ii.
91 Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Major Management
Challenges Facing the Department of Homeland Security, OIG-05-06 (Washington: 2004),
92 Secretary Chertoff letter, p. 4.
93 Statement of James Carafano, The Heritage Foundation, in Outlook for the Department
of Homeland Security, Jan. 26, 2005. For information on the proposal, see Alan Kochems,
“Who’s on First? A Strategy for Protecting Critical Infrastructure,” Backgrounder, No.
administer all facets of comprehensive emergency management (as presently called for
in the HSA), advocates of the proposal could argue that the consolidation of functions
within DHS represents the continued integration of emergency management functions,
albeit at a higher administrative level.
Others, however, would disagree with the Secretary’s proposal and the argument of
the Heritage author. Some may argue that the proposed transfer of functions from EPR
will wrongfully continue to separate emergency management missions that many have
long sought to collect in one administrative unit. They contend that the decisions to
transfer preparedness functions from EPR should be reconsidered because emergency
preparedness activities should be administered in proximity to the response functions to
ensure that funding, technical assistance, and administrative decisions are coordinated and
administered efficiently. As noted by the acting inspector general for DHS at the
beginning of the 109th Congress, he had “reservations about segregating FEMA’s
preparedness function from its response and recovery responsibilities. Disaster
preparedness, response and recovery are integrally related, each relying on the other for
success. The proposal should be studied very carefully before it is put into practice.”94
In similar fashion, a former FEMA official reportedly voiced objection to the separation
of the two functions.
Bruce Baughman, who was chosen by Vice President Dick Cheney after the 2001
attacks to head up the Office of National Preparedness, a forerunner of the
Department of Homeland Security, said separating the people who plan disaster
response from responders “was a big mistake. We tried that before, and it was a
disaster,” said Mr. Baughman, who is now the director of Alabama’s Emergency95
These and others speaking against the plan disagree with the Secretary’s contention
that preparedness is a “distraction” from the core mission of EPR (and FEMA). In a letter
to Members of Congress, the President of the National Emergency Management
Association (NEMA), the professional association of state emergency management
officials, argued against the proposed separation of preparedness functions from those
associated with consequence management, as follows.
These functions are closely related; response and recovery operations are based on
plans created by the preparedness function. Plans are revised based on input from the
response and recovery function. An effective disaster response is predicated upon
planning, training and exercise. Any unnecessary separation of these functions will
result in a disjointed response and adversely impact the effectiveness of departmental96
Contrary to the Secretary’s statement before Congress that “the idea here is not to
decouple the skills of FEMA from preparedness,” state emergency managers and others
view the effect of the proposal as accomplishing just that.
94 Ibid., statement of Richard Skinner, Department of Homeland Security.
95 Robert Block, “Homeland Security Wrestles with Revamp,” The Wall Street Journal, June
96 David E. Liebersbach, NEMA President, to Honorable Susan Collins and Honorable Joe
Lieberman, July 27, 2005.
Overview of Response Issues. Heroic efforts are expected after a catastrophe to
meet the needs of victims and halt the effects of the disaster. Federal activities and
resources are authorized to reduce the chaos, speed assistance, and coordinate the
complex challenge of creating an orderly response effort. Enactment of the HSA,
establishment of DHS, development of the National Response Plan, and other initiatives
are intended to alleviate the scenario envisioned by one analyst a year before the 9/11
To crown this list of worries, local officials predict that long after victims of a
chemical attack had been transported to hospitals, they would be bombarded with
incoming federal rescue teams that would joust with each other to find something
useful to do when not ordering local rescuers about in their home city. These teams,
which could not arrive in time to make a lifesaving difference, would create another
disaster of sorts. The list of problems deviates slightly from city to city. Although
they have made headway in some areas, even cities that have benefitted from the
federal unconventional terrorism preparedness programs can identify gaps in their97
planning and capabilities to deal with a large-scale chemical terrorist event.
Despite the announced intention of Secretary Chertoff that response and recovery
remain core functions of FEMA, implementation of the 2SR proposal would appear to
reduce some of the agency’s response authority. While details remain unknown, the
proposal would have the Office of Operations Coordination (OOC) report directly to the
Secretary and not to the Director of FEMA. Little information has been released on the
expected authority of the OC regarding response operations. For example, the Stafford
Act authorizes the President to designate a federal coordinating officer (FCO) upon the
declaration of a major disaster or emergency.98 Also, the National Response Plan
provides that the Secretary of DHS may designate a principal federal official (PFO) to
coordinate “overall federal incident management and assistance activities across the99
spectrum of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.” Implementation of this
recommendation arguably might diminish the ability of FEMA to coordinate all facets of
response operations. What relationship would the director of OOC have in relation to
these coordinating officers?
The retention of response authority within FEMA could lead to a discussion of
federal response capabilities and authorities that remain outside DHS. The following
information is intended to help Members of Congress explore issues raised by the 2SR
proposal regarding federal responsibility in three areas — emergency medical authorities,
administration of the National Response Plan, and response authorities and resources
maintained by the National Guard and Department of Defense entities. Other issues or
topics will likely be identified as additional information is released by Secretary Chertoff.
97 Amy E. Smithson and Leslie-Anne Levy, Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological Terrorism
Threat and the U.S. Response (Washington: The Henry L. Stimson Center, Oct. 2000), p.
98 42 U.S.C. 5143.
99 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, National Response Plan (Washington: 2004), p.
Summary of Issue Discussion. Despite the positive assurances by Administration
officials, implementation of the 2SR recommendation might be perceived by some to
constitute a significant, and potentially negative, change in the administration of federal
emergency management policies. Many, but not all, federal emergency management
responsibilities have been housed in FEMA in order to build a single federal agency that
would benefit from interactions and support among emergency preparedness, mitigation,
response and recovery activities. In essence, FEMA is seen by some to be a synergistic
environment that has enhanced federal emergency management capabilities. Some may
contend that the separation of these functions from FEMA will diminish federal
emergency management. In addition, the separation of preparedness assistance grant-in-
aid program authority from FEMA could adversely affect efforts to build effective
communications between grant administrators and staff responsible for implementing
This concern, however, might be overstated. One might also argue that the
establishment of DHS represents the most significant development in the evolution of the
federal emergency management function and is consistent with past recommendations to
increase the reach of federal emergency management (now homeland security) officials.
Through the creation of DHS, the 107th Congress and President Bush achieved what many
have sought for years — cabinet-level status based on statutory authority (not only
executive directives), and formal access of emergency management officials to the
President, cabinet officers, and White House staff.100 The 2SR recommendation, some
may contend, is a logical next step to be taken to ensure that federal emergency
management capabilities reach the highest levels of federal governance on a continual, not
intermittent, basis.101 As summarized by one researcher in the field, “Start with the claim
that disaster is normal, not special. Disasters, and even worst cases, are part of and not
separate from the normal ebb and flow of social life.”102 The proposed consolidation of
administrative authority in the Secretary’s office may arguably be an appropriate means
to manage catastrophes as a standard government function.
The decision made by Congress and President Bush to vest responsibility for
comprehensive emergency management, or CEM, and the all-hazards concepts in EPR
100 During the Clinton Administration, the Director of FEMA was accorded cabinet level
status through an executive decision made by President Clinton. The recommendation to
return responsibility for emergency management to the top levels of government was
included in National Academy of Public Administration, Coping with Catastrophe: Building
an Emergency Management System to Meet People’s Needs in Natural and Manmade
Disasters (Washington, 1993).
101 Some congressional and administrative officials contended after the lessons learned from
Hurricane Andrew in 1992 that a federal 911 emergency response capability had to be built.
The establishment of the 24/7 Homeland Security Operations Center within DHS constitutes
the observation and “dispatch” functions associated with a national 911 capability. In
contrast is the contention in President Carter’s 1978 reorganization plan that “there is no
need to develop a separate set of federal skills and capabilities for those rare occasions
when catastrophe occurs” [emphasis added]. U.S. President (Carter), “Reorganization Planthst
No. 3 of 1978,” H. Doc. 95-356, 95 Cong., 1 sess. (Washington: GPO, 1978), p. 3.
102 Lee Clarke, “Worst-Case Thinking: An Idea Whose Time Has Come,” Natural Hazards
Observer, vol. XXIX, Jan. 2005. Based on a forthcoming text, Worst Cases, scheduled to
be published by the University of Chicago Press.
arguably provided the directorate with a strong, far reaching, congressionally mandated
mission to accomplish a wide range of responsibilities. This mandate, it may be argued,
is consistent with the principles first set out in 1978, an all-hazards orientation that
includes all four CEM phases of preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
Some may contend that the 2SR proposal abrogates the CEM framework. The
Secretary would appear to disagree. In testimony before the House Homeland Security
Committee, the Secretary confirmed that FEMA’s responsibilities are not limited by the
type of event that results in a catastrophe “Clearly, FEMA has to be an all-hazards agency,
and traditionally it has been the lead actor in really the core mission of making sure we
are capable of responding to all hazards, including, obviously, hurricanes.”103 During the
same hearing, the Secretary appeared to indicate that even if separated, the four CEM
functions are bound together, as follows. “What our Preparedness Directorate will do is
it will bring to the table all of these very critical functions which are part of preparedness
efforts — prevention, protection and response and recovery.”104 This perspective was
emphasized in a hearing held on the FY2005 budget for the directorate.105 Support for the
Secretary’s position may be found in a study conducted by the Government
Accountability Office (GAO). According to the GAO, the major policy initiatives
undertaken by DHS and White House officials to improve the capabilities of the Nation’s
first responders are generally consistent with the all-hazards requirements set forth in the
directives issued by President Bush.106 The elimination of EPR and the separation of the
preparedness function (and possibly mitigation) from FEMA might be considered
insignificant as long as DHS ensures that policy implementation within DHS proceeds in
almost seamless fashion.
Some congressional discussion ensued shortly after release of the 2SR proposal.107
Additional debate is likely to occur. Congress might elect to debate not only the effect
of the 2SR recommendation on the operations and mission of DHS, but also whether
existing federal missions related to homeland security functions, including those assigned
103 Remarks of Secretary Chertoff in U.S. Congress, House Homeland Security Committee,
Review of Department of Homeland Security Organization (Washington: 2005), transcript
available by subscription through CQ Homeland Security.
105 U.S. Congress, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee
on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, The Fiscal Year
2005 Budget Request for the Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Preparedness
and Response Directorate, the Office for Domestic Preparedness, and First Responderthnd
Funding, hearing, 108 Cong., 2 sess., Mar. 18, 2004 (Washington: GPO, 2005), pp. 4-7.
106 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Homeland Security: DHS’ Efforts to Enhance
First Responders’ All-Hazards Capabilities Continue to Evolve, GAO Report GAO-05-652,
(Washington: July 11, 2005).
107 Hearings were held in the Senate and the House on the proposal shortly after it was
released. Also, a report issued by the Democratic members of the House Homeland Security
Committee shortly after the Secretary released the findings raises questions about the effect
of the proposal on different preparedness needs and constituencies, the absence of
information on communications interoperability, and training. See U.S. House of
Representatives, Protecting America Against Terrorists: The Case for a Comprehensive
Reorganization of the Department of Homeland Security (Washington: 2005).
to federal entities other than DHS, might be reconsidered. The following information, and
related questions, are intended to assist Members as they consider elements of that debate.
Questions and Responses. In the process of evaluating the 2SR
recommendation issued by Secretary Chertoff, Congress might debate the “either-or”
options — either Congress approves the Secretary’s recommendation, or it does not. In
the course of this debate, Members might consider the intent of Congress in creating EPR
in 2002, examine whether the organization’s efforts have conformed to congressional
intent, and place the 2SR recommendation in the perspective of the full reach of federal
homeland security related policies.
A primary question before Members of Congress is whether the 2SR proposal to
eliminate EPR and modify the mission of FEMA is an appropriate response to the
challenges and questions facing the nation. The history of FEMA’s establishment, the
struggles encountered by that new agency’s administrators in the 1980s and early 1990s,
and the shifts in emergency activities to and from EPR indicate that Congress and
executive branch officials have long wrestled with the need to improve the administration
of federal emergency authorities. Whether consolidated into FEMA in 1978, or into EPR
in 2002, some authorities remained outside the jurisdiction of the unit putatively
identified as responsible for “comprehensive all hazard” management. Therefore, in
considering whether the 2SR proposals regarding EPR should be implemented, several
broad questions and general responses might be posed in light of the “core principles”
followed by DHS in preparing the 2SR initiative.
!First principle: “DHS must base its work on priorities driven by risk.”
Question: Does the proposal to move the remaining preparedness
functions out of EPR represent a significant action that could decrease
risk, or would it adversely affect the ability of DHS to perform its
mission? Response: The proposed transfers arguably follow on similar
actions that have been taken by Congress and the Administration since
establishment of DHS. Critics contend that separating preparedness
activities from response and recovery would inhibit feedback and
interaction among emergency management units. The Secretary contends
that the transfer would enable FEMA to focus on response and recovery.
In light of the proposed transfer of some response functions out of
FEMA, the role of other federal agencies in providing response and
recovery assistance, and the need to exercise consequence management
coordination at the highest levels of government, it appears that the
proposed transfer would likely have some, but not a significant, impact
if communication and feedback mechanisms are adopted within DHS to
ensure that lessons learned from simulations and actual events are
coordinated. It is not possible to assess whether this proposal would lead
to a reduction or increase in risk.
!Second principle: “Our Department must drive improvement with a
sense of urgency. Our enemy constantly changes and adapts, so we as a
Department must be nimble and decisive.” Question: Would the
proposed reorganization result in a more flexible department? Response:
The large number of DHS entities that directly report to the Secretary
arguably implies a less nimble or flexible organization. On the other
hand, the delegation of authority to Under Secretaries would arguably
result in a more decisive, flexible, and nimble entity.
!Third principle: “DHS must be an effective steward of public
resources.” Question: Would the elimination of EPR and the other
elements of the 2SR initiative promote priority setting, improve financial
management, and facilitate the measurement of performance? Response:
It is not possible to assess the degree to which the proposal would
increase efficiency and economy. It could be argued that the
centralization of preparedness authorities in one directorate might reduce
duplicative assignments and redundant activities. The reorganization,
however, would likely increase administrative burdens because staff
charged with carrying out responsibilities in offices other than FEMA
will have to increase efforts to communicate information within DHS.
!Fourth principle: “Effective security is built upon a network of systems
that span all levels of government and the private sector.” Question:
Would implementation of the proposal facilitate interactions among
governmental and non-governmental entities responsible for preparing
for, easing the consequences of, responding to, and recovering from
catastrophes? Response: The degree to which the proposed
reorganization would improve the interactions of DHS with its partners
outside the federal government would depend upon the ability of officials
with new responsibility to build upon established relationships.108 The
identification of DHS-wide regional offices would be a factor in building
these relationships.109 Also, a large universe of federal emergency
management and homeland security authorities falls outside the
jurisdiction of DHS. Insufficient information exists to determine how the
reorganization would affect DHS relationships with other federal
In addition to these broad questions, Members might elect to consider the following
questions that more specifically address concerns associated with the proposal.
!The Homeland Security Act (HSA) directs that FEMA maintain an “all-
hazards” orientation that includes terrorist attacks (except preparedness
activities), natural disasters, and hazardous materials incidents. This
approach to homeland security has a decades-long history involving
emergency management authorities. Federal statutes other than the HSA
108 Maintaining effective relations with non-federal partners involved in the delivery of
homeland security and emergency management services may be one of the paramount
elements of the debate. As noted in Appendix B of this report, dissatisfaction of state
officials with the reorganization plan developed by President Nixon in 1973 led to calls for
a new approach that culminated in the establishment of FEMA in 1978. See page 55 of this
109 Legislation before the 109th Congress (H.R. 3477) would direct the DHS Secretary to
report to Congress on a plan to establish consolidated and co-located regional offices
throughout the nation.
vest certain emergency management authorities in departments or
agencies other than DHS or FEMA. Should the HSA be amended to
expand the responsibility of DHS for federal emergency authorities
currently charged to other federal entities?
!How does the scope of all federal homeland security policies in 2005
relate to the decades-old policy of emergency management that was
formulated in the 1970s? Have basic concepts, such as the division of
responsibilities among federal and non-federal units of government,
concepts of risk and threat, and constraints on federal authority and fiscal
!Would incorporation of a definition of “homeland security” in the HSA
resolve questions about the reach of the authority of DHS and its entities?
Where are the boundaries among related policy areas such as “homeland
defense,” “law enforcement,” “environmental risk and management,” and
Preparedness Authorities Questions. Questions that might be raised by
Congress specifically on the transfer of preparedness authorities to PD include the
!Figure 1 of this report lists five activities or responsibilities that fall
within the jurisdiction of EPR’s Preparedness Division. Secretary
Chertoff has stated that “Other FEMA functions to be transferred include
the hazardous materials training and assistance program, the chemical
stockpile emergency preparedness program, the radiological emergency
preparedness program and the BioShield program.”110 If the NIMS
Integration Center (NIC) is transferred to the Office of Operations
Coordination, will all aspects of the other four be transferred to the new
Preparedness Directorate? What functions in EPR’s Preparedness
Division are not proposed to be transferred to the new Preparedness
!The Office of National Security Coordination currently reports to the
Under Secretary of EPR (see Figure 1 ). Would this office remain within
EPR or be transferred to a different DHS entity? What are the
advantages and disadvantages of separating contingency planning
activities from FEMA or integrating those responsibilities with other
preparedness activities in the new Preparedness Directorate (PD), if
established? How would the proposed realignment of preparedness
functions affect the quality of federal contingency planning efforts, which
110 Letter of Secretary Chertoff to Congress, July 13, 2005, p. 5.
have been questioned in reports and at least one congressional hearing?111
!Considerable attention has been given to the need to build or enhance
emergency warning systems. Will Secretary Chertoff’s proposal separate
responsibility for terror alert and warning systems from those that focus
on natural hazards? What would be the rationale for transferring
authority for the Integrated Hazard Information System, or IHIS, or other
warning systems out of FEMA? If responsibility for HSAS is vested in
PD, how will communication between HSAS staff and the Homeland
Security Operations Center (HSOC) staff (proposed to be located in the
new Operations Coordination office (OC)) be facilitated?
!Hazard mitigation activities are an element of emergency preparedness
in that they help communities reduce the effects of disasters before they
occur. What elements of the EPR’s Mitigation Division will remain with
FEMA? Figure 1 identifies functions currently administered in the
Mitigation Division (such as risk identification and risk assessment) that
are similar to the authorities currently vested in the Under Secretary of
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection. The duties could be
undertaken in the proposed Office of Intelligence and Analysis or in the
Preparedness Directorate. What criteria would be used to keep certain
mitigation functions within FEMA and to transfer others?
!For years, FEMA (now EPR) has built relationships with other federal
agencies, state and local governments, and private sector entities to
improve federal emergency preparedness functions. For example, the
emergency preparedness activities associated with events around nuclear
power plants involve an array of regulations, guidelines, and public112
participation opportunities. What specific steps will be taken by
Secretary Chertoff and officials implementing the 2SR initiative to
ensure that these relationships and the lessons learned from decades of
involvement are not lost because of the transfer? To what extent would
congressionally mandated directives related to the consolidation of DHS
111 U.S. Government Accountability Office, Continuity of Operations: Improved Planning
Needed to Ensure Delivery of Essential Government Services, GAO-04-160, Feb. 27, 2004.
See also U.S. Government Accountability Office, Continuity of Operations: Agency Plans
Have Improved, but Better Oversight Could Assist Agencies in Preparing for Emergencies,
GAO-05-577, Apr. 28, 2005. U.S. Congress, House Committee on Government Reform,
Can Federal Agencies Function in the Wake of a Disaster? A Status Report on Federalthnd
Agencies’ Continuity of Operations Plans, hearing, 108 Cong., 2 sess., Apr. 22, 2004
(Washington: GPO, 2004).
112 For background, see U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, “Announcement of a Public
Meeting to Discuss Selected Topics for the Review of Emergency Preparedness (EP)
Regulations and Guidance for Commercial Nuclear Power Plants,” Federal Register, vol.
regional offices be affected by implementation of the 2SR
!What performance measures would be used to evaluate the effectiveness
of the Preparedness Directorate’s activities after the reorganization?
What measures have been used to examine EPR’s administration of the
preparedness missions for which its staff have been responsible? To
what extent did the Secretary consider such performance measures in
developing the 2SR recommendation to transfer preparedness functions
Response Authorities Questions. While FEMA operated for years under an
“all-hazards” mission, the range of response authorities and their assignment to federal
entities other than EPR indicate that response capabilities for some hazards rest outside
the directorate. The following questions might be asked of Secretary Chertoff regarding
the impact of the 2SR recommendation on federal emergency response capabilities.
!What is the relationship of NDMS to the HHS Office of Mass Casualty
Planning? What would be the impact of the 2SR proposal on
administration of NDMS duties and on concurrent HHS response
activities and related missions of other federal entities? For example,
responsibility for the transportation of NDMS resources that had
previously been assigned to the Department of Defense reportedly has
been transferred to DHS. Has this shift affected the delivery of NDMS
!Have appropriate relationships and the required mechanisms developed
among the DHS, HHS, and DOD? If the 2SR recommendation is
implemented and the FEMA director retains authority for response, what
would be the specific duties of the Secretary of DHS and the FEMA
director in coordinating the federal (and non-federal) response after the
President issues a major disaster declaration under the Stafford Act?
!Should responsibility for emergency medical services be shifted to DHS
from the Department of Transportation?
!Have administrative functions changed regarding DEST deployment
since enactment of the HSA? To what extent does the director of EPR
control the DEST unit, or does it remain a resource initiated and
controlled by the FBI? What have been the positive impacts identified
with the transfer of DEST to EPR? Might Congress amend the HSA
provision regarding the DEST role in FEMA’s response efforts?
!The bombing of the Murrah building in 1995 by domestic terrorists
illustrated the dominant role of law enforcement, notably the FBI, in
managing the response. Bioterrorism events will require significant
113 Legislation (H.R. 3477) to establish a deadline for submission of a plan for establishing
and co-locating regional offices is pending before the 109th Congress.
involvement of HHS personnel. Hazardous material accidents will
involve the Department of Transportation.114 Should terrorist attacks
from foreign aggressors lead to a catastrophe, DOD resources may likely
be required due to the extent of damage and the need to respond to
continuing attacks. Under these and other circumstances that will likely
require considerable involvement of entities other than DHS, how will
the reorganized department affect the response interactions currently
guided by the National Response Plan?
!In light of the 2SR recommendation that a Chief Medical Officer be
appointed in the new Preparedness Directorate, how will federal medical
response resources be coordinated after catastrophes occur? What steps
will be taken by Secretary Chertoff to ensure that DHS health response
capabilities are coordinated with those of HHS?
!What steps are being taken by Secretary Chertoff to ensure that federal
response capabilities outside DHS, particularly those vested in DOD, will
be provided in a coordinated fashion after a catastrophe that involves
significant destruction and loss of life and civil government capabilities?
!The FEMA director would report directly to the Secretary under the
reorganization proposal. What responsibility would the FEMA director
exercise after a catastrophic event, such as a nuclear detonation in an
urban area? What would FEMA’s response resources and capabilities
add to the range available from other agencies? If the Office of
Operations Coordination holds incident management responsibilities,
what would FEMA contribute?
!Through enactment of the HSA Congress directed EPR to serve as the
primary responder in “all hazards.” Other federal agencies’ roles provide
services focused on certain types of threats (e.g., nuclear power plant
incidents, hazardous material spills, or biological attacks).115 What
federal resources to be maintained by FEMA will alleviate suffering after
disasters that require specialized response capabilities?
!What steps are being taken by DHS officials to ensure that plans and
strategies under development within DOD are coordinated with DHS?
What disagreements exist between officials of the two departments?
What efforts have been taken to ensure that disagreements over roles and
responsibilities are resolved?
!What performance measures will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of
FEMA’s response activities after the reorganization?
114 49 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.
115 One might argue, however, that the use of FEMA resources in 2003 to locate the pieces
of the space shuttle Columbia indicated a need for broader response capabilities.
Summary of Options for Congress
The 2SR process has, from the Administration’s perspective, identified shortcomings
that arguably require reorganizations and realignments of federal emergency preparedness
and response functions. This section summarizes some of the options that might be
considered by the 109th Congress as catastrophes of all kinds, and the preparation for and
response to those events, become prominent aspects of federal policymaking.
Take No Legislative Action. The transfer of preparedness functions and the
existence of minimally funded or supported authorities within EPR arguably serves as a
justification for the recommendation of Secretary Chertoff that the directorate be reduced
if not eliminated. Implementation of that recommendation, however, would require
legislation since EPR was established through the HSA. By taking no legislative action,
Congress would, in effect, oppose the Secretary’s recommendation and maintain EPR as
a directorate within DHS. Should Congress decide that the mission of EPR requires
further reconsideration, resource allocation decisions made through appropriations could
serve as the vehicle for change.
Place a Reconstituted FEMA in the Executive Office of the President.
In the wake of the tragedy associated with the response to Hurricane Katrina and the long-
term recovery issues that seem apparent, it may be argued that consequence management
after certain catastrophic disasters requires action and oversight at the highest level of
government. Congress could agree with the 2SR recommendation that preparedness
assistance would be separated from FEMA’s mission, and might consider the separation
of mitigation assistance as well. The immediate and long-term coordination efforts
required arguably could be vested in a FEMA director who reports directly to the
President, or the Homeland Security Council. Precedent for this option may be found in116
President Eisenhower’s reorganization plan submitted to Congress in 1958.
Further Consolidate Selected Missions. The National Commission on
Federal Service (referred to as the Volcker Commission) concluded that federal agenciesst
struggle to deliver public services in the 21 century through a complex structure of
agencies with similar missions.117 Overlapping authorities, duplicative demands on
resources, and unfilled gaps in communication and interagency communications all
contribute to public dissatisfaction and high levels of frustration among federal workers.
One solution, according to the Commission, is to reorganize federal agencies to group
entities, and workers, charged with similar missions, a task arguably partly accomplished
with the creation of DHS.
The 2SR recommendation may be viewed as one attempt to further consolidate those
missions. If Congress is in agreement with this option, Members might elect to go beyond
the reach of the 2SR recommendations by consolidating other federal emergency
116 U.S. President (Eisenhower), “Reorganization Plan 1 of 1958,” Federal Register, vol. 23,
July 1, 1958, p. 4991.
117 National Commission on the Public Service, Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing
the Federal Government for the 21st Century (Washington: The Brookings Institution,
visited June 16, 2005.
authorities into the jurisdiction of DHS. For example, pending legislation (H.R. 1414)
would authorize the Secretary of DHS to regulate shipping of extremely hazardous
material, a mission arguably suitable for the Secretary of Transportation. Other legislation
(H.R. 1562) would authorize the Secretary of DHS, in consultation with the Administrator
of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to regulate security at chemical facilities.
Another bill before Congress (S. 1256) would give the Secretary of DHS expanded
regulatory authority to govern the transportation and storage of hazardous material by rail
in “high threat corridors.” The Department of Transportation also exercises authority over
the transportation of such material.118 Other authorities that might be transferred to DHS,
or possibly EPR, authority, can be identified through an examination of Table 2 of this
For example, one option that Congress might consider in evaluating FEMA’s
emergency medical response authorities has been developed by the Homeland Security
Policy Institute associated with George Washington University. Institute staff have
recommended that federal responsibility for emergency medical services (EMS) should
be shifted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the
Department of Transportation to DHS. According to the authors of the report, this
recommendation should be considered along with other 2SR recommendations “to
provide EMS with the leadership, resources and stature that have been absent during its119
recent history.” In response, one opponent of the proposal reportedly noted:
The federal EMS community is not just located in DOT. There are EMS programs
in the Department of Health and Human Services, DHS, and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. Any reorganization of federal EMS needs to look at all of
these agencies in a holistic way and not simply pluck one agency from DOT and drop120
it down in DHS....
The recommendation to transfer EMS to DHS appears to be pertinent to the
Secretary’s recommendation that a Chief Medical Officer be appointed within PD “to
coordinate with our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services, the
Department of Agriculture and state governments.”121 The Chief Medical Officer would
118 See CRS Report RL32851, Hazardous Material Transportation Security: Highway and
Rail Modes, by Paul F. Rothberg. The surface transportation legislation passed by Congress
and approved by the President provides new authority for the Secretary of Transportation
regarding the transportation of hazardous material, including the establishment of a
Hazardous Material Emergency Preparedness Fund for grants to state and local first
responders. See 49 U.S.C. 5102 et seq.
119 For information on the recommendation see Back to the Future: An Agenda for Federal
Leadership of Emergency Medical Services, available at
[ h t t p : / / www.homelandsecur i t y.gwu.edu/ r e por t s / HSPI_EMS_t ask_ f o r ce_r e por t _5-2-05.pdf ] ,
visited June 13, 2005.
120 See Eileen Sullivan, “Tension Between Emergency Medical Crews and Firefighters Stays
on Simmer,” CQ Homeland Security, June 10, 2005, see Eileen Sullivan, “Study:
Emergency Medical Services Should Move from DOT to DHS,” CQ Homeland Security,
May 2, 2005
121 “Secretary Michael Chertoff U.S. Department of Homeland Security Second Stage
have responsibilities beyond those normally vested in PD, arguably the coordination of
federal EMS responsibilities, as follows:
Maybe I can just touch briefly on the chief medical officer. The idea with a chief
medical officer is precisely to give us somebody who owns the entirety of this system,
of response with respect to health issues. That would be prevention, protection and
response and recovery, because in many cases, particularly dealing with biological
threats, response and recovery is a very, very important element of our defense
strategy. Give that ownership to one person or one set of people and, a particular
individual who I think the president has announced his intent to nominate is someone122
who actually has a background as an emergency room physician.
While many recognize DHS accomplishments in coordinating federal emergency
medical authorities, some have identified areas for improvement.123 For example, one
research center reported at the end of 2004 that responsibility for federal biodefense
activity is dispersed among “more than a dozen government agencies.” The report
concluded that the existing array of authorities “presents particular challenges to efforts
to design, implement, and oversee a coherent, coordinated, and efficient biodefense
strategy.”124 Also, a witness at a Senate hearing at the beginning of the 109th Congress
noted that federal bioterrorism response strategy needs “fine tuning” and added, “I’m not
really sure DHS needs a role in BioShield at all.”125 The dominant role of HHS through
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was summarized by the CDC
director as follows.
HHS is responsible for leading federal public health efforts to ensure an
integrated and focused national effort to anticipate and respond to emerging biological
and other weapons threats. HHS is also the principal federal agency responsible for
coordinating all federal-level assets activated to support and augment the state and126
local medical and public health response to mass casualty events.
Review Remarks,” available at [http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/display?content=4597],
visited Aug. 11, 2005.
122 Remarks of Secretary Chertoff, U.S. Congress, House Homeland Security Committee,
Review of Department of Homeland Security Organization (Washington: 2005), transcript
available by subscription through CQ Homeland Security.
123 For example, see Jeff Nesmith, “Who’s In Charge if Bird Flu Strikes — Docs or Cops?,”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aug. 24, 2005, accessed at [http://www.ajc.com/today/
content/epaper/editions/today/news_34c09175043fd0ef10d0.html], visited Aug. 30, 2005.
124 Ari Schuler and others, “Executive Government Positions of Influence in Biodefense:
The Bio-Plum Book,” Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and
Science, vol. 2, no. 4, 2004, available at [http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/pages/
publications/articles.html#2004], visited June 10, 2005.
125 Statement of James Carafano, Outlook for the Department of Homeland Security, Jan.
126 Statement of Dr. Julie L. Gerberding before the House Homeland Security Committee,
Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack, July 28, 2005, transcript
available through [CQ.com subscription]. At the same hearing, Dr. John Vitko, Jr., Director
These statements raise questions about which department, DHS or HHS, has primary
coordination authority. The issue of coordinating federal activities in biomedical defense
has been explored by a House subcommittee as well.127 Further information is required
to determine whether the 2SR recommendation addresses this issue.
As part of the process of evaluating whether certain emergency authorities should
be transferred to DHS, Members might consider the following questions in developing
criteria for legislation that would further consolidate authorities in DHS.
!Does the function require considerable or ongoing coordination between
DHS and other federal entities, not just at the time a catastrophe strikes
and FEMA’s response and recovery mission is needed?
!Does the function require technical knowledge, skills, or resources that
are an inherent part of another agency’s or department’s mission? Would
the “generalist” emergency management skills of FEMA or other DHS
officials have to be supplemented with the technical skills that are part
of the other department or agency base mission?
!Would the incorporation of the function into the mission of DHS reduce
the number, and therefore the complexity, of federal agencies with
responsibility for similar activities?
!Do the non-federal entities involved in providing services associated with
the function have long-standing connections with federal entities other
than DHS? How would the transfer to DHS affect the ongoing review of
Another approach to consolidating these authorities would be to expand legislation
before the 109th Congress (H.R. 1817) already approved by the House. This bill, which
would authorize appropriations for DHS, would require the preparation of a “Terrorism
Prevention Plan” and amend the Homeland Security Act (HSA) to establish a “National
Terrorism Exercise Program.” Title III of the bill would require that such a program be
established in ODP in order to test and evaluate domestic capabilities to “prevent, prepare
for, respond to, and recover from threatened or actual acts of terrorism....” Congress
might elect to debate whether this proposal might be expanded. It might be argued that
the National Terrorism Exercise Program should include all hazards, not just terrorism.
This would be consistent with the overall mission given to DHS in the HSA128 and with
of the Biological Countermeasures Portfolio in DHS, identified six units within the
department and eight entities outside DHS that “have major roles and responsibilities in
implementing the national biodefense strategy.”
127 U.S. Congress, House Government Reform Committee, Subcommittee on National
Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, “Elusive Antidotes: Progress
Developing Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures,” June 14,
128 “The primary mission of the Department is to — (D) carry out all functions of entities
the all-hazards preparedness guidance and national preparedness system released by DHS
in 2004 and 2005.129 If Members contemplate expanding the program to an all-hazards
effort, it might be argued that EPR, rather than ODP, would be the appropriate
Continuity of Operations. It might be argued that federal continuity of operations
(COOP) activities might be improved if EPR’s Office of National Security Coordination
were given greater authority to guide agencies that must improve their own internal
planning efforts. Congress might consider the need for statutory authority that would
specify the relationship of DHS efforts to those of other agencies. For example, while
DHS (specifically FEMA) has been designated the lead agency to establish guidelines and
standards for federal agency COOP efforts, it may not be authorized “to compel action by
other executive branch agencies.”130 Legislation might be considered to authorize EPR
to exercise strong coordinative functions that would improve COOP efforts. On the other
hand, opponents of such strong central authority within DHS might contend that guidance
and technical assistance, not mandatory enforcement, are the appropriate roles for EPR.
Others might argue that the essential function of ensuring the continuity of operations
should be vested in the Secretary’s office or the White House.
Hazard Warning Systems. The tsunami that struck Southeast Asia on December
During the 108th Congress, legislation was introduced (H.R. 3644) to establish a
technology transfer program within DHS to improve the capabilities of emergency
responders to counter terrorist and non-terrorist threats. One news report indicates that
the issue may be raised before the 109th Congress.131 Debate over the future of IHIS could
involve the broader discussion of the need for hazard warning systems. In addition,
Congress might consider whether the capabilities of another federal agency should be
augmented. For example, the Domestic Warning Center (DWC) is used by the
Department of Defense (NORTHCOM) to track disasters.132 Legislation might be
considered to incorporate these resources into DHS.
Separate Natural Disaster and Terrorism Missions. One study on initiatives
that, according to the authors, transformed the federal government identified two lessons
learned from the revitalization of FEMA during the 1990s — clarify the mission of the
transferred to the Department, including by acting as a focal point regarding natural and
manmade crises and emergency planning...” Sec. 101(a) of P.L. 107-296, 6 U.S.C.
129 For background, see CRS Report RL32803, The National Preparedness System: Issues
in the 109th Congress, by Keith Bea.
130 GAO, Continuity of Operations: Improved Planning Needed to Ensure Delivery of
Essential Government Services, p. 9.
131 Darren Goode, “Lawmaker Pushes Use of Military Technology in Disaster Response,”
Congress Daily, Jan. 10, 2005.
132 For information on NORTHCOM, see CRS Report RS21322, Homeland Security:
Establishment and Implementation of Northern Command, by Christopher Bolkcum and
agency, and structure the agency to reflect the mission.133 The authors noted that the
decision to transfer the focus of FEMA from national preparedness to emergency
management “redefined the agency’s primary target population as disaster victims, rather
than executive branch officials central to the survivability of national decision-making
capacity following a nuclear war.”134
Members of Congress might elect to consider whether the current emphasis on
terrorist threats dilutes the FEMA mission or broadens it without harming its “focus,”
whether viewed as “emergency management,” “natural disaster assistance,” or “all-
hazards.” If, as the authors of the study noted, “national preparedness functions were not
abandoned, but were integrated with the more basic emergency management functions,”
one might argue that returning to a more focused mission (i.e., natural disaster
preparedness and response) rather than “all-hazards” approach, would be more
appropriate. This might be accomplished by eliminating EPR as a separate DHS entity,
restoring FEMA to its independent agency status, or distributing “natural disaster”
emergency management functions among other federal agencies.
Strengthen and Monitor Interagency Coordination Requirements.
Congress might encourage or require changes in interagency coordination mechanisms.
In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 2001, President Bush established the
Homeland Security Council (HSC) to “ensure coordination of all homeland security-
related activities among executive departments and agencies and promote the effective135
development and implementations of all homeland security policies.” Homeland
security policy issues are evaluated by the Homeland Security Council Deputies
Committee, which includes the director of FEMA. Eleven policy coordination
committees (PCCs) “coordinate the development and implementation of homeland
security policies by multiple departments and agencies throughout the federal
government....” Two PCCs particularly appropriate to the mission of EPR include one
on “Plans, Training, Exercises, and Evaluation” and another on “Domestic Threat
Response and Incident Management.” Members of Congress might conduct hearings on
the role of these PCCs to evaluate whether the task assigned in the presidential directive
is being carried out, and whether other means of coordination would be more136
133 R. Steven Daniels and Carolyn L. Clark-Daniels, Transforming Government: The
Renewal and Revitalization of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (Birmingham,
AL: Department of Government and Public Service, University of Alabama, 2000), pp. 7-8.
This finding resembles one reached by other researchers who examined six public sector
mergers. One of the studies led to the conclusion that a clear concept of mission and desired
results, and a merger of common missions, should be “articulated from the start and [drive]
the merger’s implementation.” See Peter Frumkin, Making Public Sector Mergers Work:
Lessons Learned (Cambridge, MA: John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard
University, 2003), p. 22.
134 Ibid., p. 7.
135 President George W. Bush, Homeland Security Presidential Directive-1, (Washington:
visited June 16, 2005.
136 See CRS Report RL31357, Federal Interagency Coordinative Mechanisms: Varied Types
One possible model for this approach is the establishment of joint command
responsibilities in DOD through enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of
Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.137 This statute, according to one analyst, addressed
problems associated with the imbalance among three “basic military organizational
tensions: centralization versus decentralization, functional versus geographic
responsibility, and specialization versus the generalist perspective.”138
Two of these three (centralization/decentralization and specialization/generalist) are
applicable to the complex array of federal authorities administered by DHS and other
departments and agencies. Congress might consider two options in adapting the
Goldwater-Nichols model to federal homeland security policy. First, the statutory
authority of the Secretary of DHS could be expanded (Section 102 of P.L. 107-296) to
mandate negotiations between the Secretary and other executive agency heads over the
use of federal resources under specified emergency conditions or threats. Such authority
could enable the Secretary to supplement the generalist skills within DHS with the
technical skills and resources of other agencies.
Second, legislation might be considered to authorize specified officials under certain
circumstances to call on the resources of other federal agencies in coordination with the
Secretary of DHS or the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC). A “Federal
Emergency Response Coordinator” from DHS, HHS, or another federal office might be
tasked with ensuring, on a continuing basis, that federal emergency preparedness and
response actions are coordinated and complementary, not duplicative.139 Under Homeland
Security Presidential Directive-5, the DHS Secretary “is responsible for coordinating
federal operations within the United States to prepare for, respond to, and recover from
terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.” Congress might elect to build
upon this administrative authority of the Secretary by amending the Homeland Security
Act to require that certain actions be taken, such as the convening of department heads on
a regular basis or the preparation of an emergency response capabilities report for
congressional evaluation.140 Members might also consider attaching coordination
requirements or additional resources to departments’ annual appropriations legislation.
Another variant on this options would be to amend Title IX of the HSA to authorize the
and Numerous Devices, by Frederick M. Kaiser.
137 P.L. 99-433, 100 Stat. 992-1075b.
138 Gordon Nathaniel Lederman, Reorganizing the Joint Chiefs of Staff: The Goldwater-
Nichols Act of 1986 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999).
139 Under current law, the President must appoint a federal coordinating office (FCO) after
a major disaster declaration is issued. The FCO must ensure that the assistance provided
by federal and non-federal agencies to the disaster-stricken area is delivered in a coordinated
fashion. See 42 U.S.C. 5143. See also the requirements for combatant commanders at 10
140 Section 102 of the act sets forth the functions of the Secretary. The statute authorizes the
Secretary to coordinate certain activities — preparedness with non-federal entities, federal
communications related to homeland security, and the distribution of warnings. See 6
HSAC to require federal agency coordination and intervene to resolve disputes among
department heads, including Secretary of DHS.
Other coordination options might be considered by Congress. A “virtual”
reorganization through coordinating councils has been suggested by one authority, who
concluded in a study of federal reorganizations that an emphasis on the process used to
coordinate the actions of federal agencies can result in improvements previously
associated only with reorganizations.141 Enactment of statutory provisions requiring such
coordination could specify reporting requirements to congressional committees with
jurisdiction, the integration of agency strategic plans required under the Government
Performance and Results Act, and the identification of an agency head as the chair of the
Finally, the Policy Directorate that Secretary Chertoff has proposed in the 2SR
recommendation could serve an important role in ensuring that DHS-wide activities are
coordinated, and that the administrative components of the department, including FEMA,
undertake specified tasks to ensure that stovepipes within DHS are either circumvented
or porous to facilitate communications and information sharing within the department.
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the statutory framework for DHS
and its components, including EPR. From enactment of the HSA in 2002 to the present,
changes have taken place with regard to the mission of EPR. Elements identified in the
HSA as components of EPR’s comprehensive emergency management responsibility have
!been excluded from the mission of EPR,
!received little or no support when transferred,
!been subsequently transferred from EPR, or
!been assigned to other entities.
The Administration’s 2SR recommendation to eliminate EPR and reduce FEMA’s
responsibilities is consistent with past trends. Because FEMA remains in DHS, however,
it may be argued that the changes are not significant because DHS as a whole exercises
broad emergency authorities.
Members of the 109th Congress might elect to approve the Administration’s 2SR
proposal to eliminate EPR. Congress might also consider consolidating emergency
authorities vested in other federal departments and agencies into DHS or reduce the need
to reorganize DHS by enhancing interagency coordination requirements. Congress might
elect to examine the criteria used to justify the transfer of emergency management
functions from EPR to other federal entities.
141 Peter Szanton, Federal Reorganization: What Have We Learned (Chatham, NJ: Chatham
House Publishers, 1981).
Appendix A. Acronym Glossary
2SRSecond stage review
CDCCenters for Disease Control and Prevention
CEMComprehensive emergency management
COGContinuity of government
CONPLANConcept of Operations Plan
COOPContinuity of operations
DESTsDomestic Emergency Support Teams
DHSDepartment of Homeland Security
DODDepartment of Defense
DOTDepartment of Transportation
DWCDomestic Warning Center
EMSEmergency medical services
EPREmergency Preparedness and Response Directorate
FBIFederal Bureau of Investigation
FEMAFederal Emergency Management Agency
FICEMSFederal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services
FIRSTsFederal Initial Response Support Teams
FPCFederal Preparedness Circular
HHSDepartment of Health and Human Services
HSAHomeland Security Act
HSASHomeland Security Advisory System
HSCHomeland Security Council
HSPDHomeland Security Presidential Directive
IAIPInformation Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
IEMSIntegrated emergency management system
IHISIntegrated Hazard Information System (also referred to as FIRESAT)
IMAACInteragency Modeling and Atmospheric Assessment Center
MMRSMetropolitan Medical Response System
NDMSNational Disaster Medical System
NDPONational Domestic Preparedness Office
NHSANational Homeland Security Agency
NHTSANational Highway Traffic Safety Administration
NICNIMS Incident Center
NIMSNational Incident Management System
NIRTNuclear Incident Response Team
NOAANational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NRPNational Response Plan
ODPOffice for Domestic Preparedness
OEPOffice of Emergency Preparedness
ONSCOffice of National Security Coordination
PCCsPolicy coordination committees
PHSAPublic Health Service Act
SLGCPOffice for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness
SNSStrategic National Stockpile
WMDWeapons of mass destruction
Appendix B. Evolution of Federal
From the early years of the republic to 1950, Congress enacted legislation that
directed federal disaster relief. Laws that were unique to each disaster authorized the
amount of funds to be distributed, the type of federal equipment to be sent, or the
personnel to be allocated to stricken areas.142 For the most part, federal emergency
assistance consisted of disaster relief authorized to provide specific relief to disaster
In 1950, Congress and President Truman approved legislation that authorized the
President to determine when federal assistance would be provided, subject to stated
eligibility constraints.144 Following enactment of the 1950 statute, administrative
responsibility for the provision of federal emergency assistance (as well as civil defense,
also authorized in 1950) shifted among federal departments, agencies, and the White
House until 1978145 During that time, the provisions of the 1950 statute were expanded
upon and superseded through significant legislation enacted from 1966 to 1974 that
increased the categories of assistance to be provided and the types of organizations
eligible for aid.146 In addition, other legislation was enacted to improve civil defense
efforts; reduce future disaster losses (hazard mitigation); improve safety from nuclear and
industrial catastrophes; and provide relief for small businesses, agricultural producers, and
homeowners. All of these authorities developed into a complex mix of federal emergency
management missions that, by the late 1970s, involved many federal agencies.
142 Michele L. Landis, “Let Me Next Time Be Tried by Fire: Disaster Relief and the Origins
of the American Welfare State 1789-1874,” Northwestern University Law Review, vol. 92,
spring 1998, pp. 967-1034. A list of disaster legislation enacted by Congress from 1803
through 1943 may be found in Rep. Harold Hagen, Statement for the Record, Congressional
Record, vol. 96, Aug. 7, 1950, pp. 11900-11902.
143 The exception to this general statement concerns flood prevention policies enacted since
the late 19th century. See CRS Report RL32972, Federal Flood Insurance: The Repetitive
Loss Problem, by Rawle King.
144 “To authorize federal assistance to states and local governments in major disasters, and
for other purposes,” P.L. 81-875, 64 Stat. 1109-1111. This legislation is the forerunner of
the considerably wider authority granted the President in the Robert T. Stafford Disaster
Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.
145 For a chronology of the administrative assignments, see CRS Report RL31510, Proposed
Transfer of FEMA to the Department of Homeland Security, by Keith Bea (available from
146 In addition to enlarging the types of disaster relief to be provided, legislation enacted
during these years established new federal policy to help state and local governments
prepare for emergencies, recover from disasters, and reduce losses (mitigate hazards)
anticipated from future disasters. Legislation was enacted in 1966 (P.L. 89-796, 80 Stat.
1316 et seq.), 1969 (P.L. 91-79, 83 Stat. 125 et seq.), 1970 (P.L. 91-606, 84 Stat. 1744 et
seq.), and 1974 (P.L. 93-288, 88 Stat. 143 et seq.).
State, local, and federal officials increasingly voiced dissatisfaction over the complex
and inefficient maze of federal policies and the responsible administrative entities. The
reorganization project headed by OMB during the Carter Administration associated this
conundrum with the decision made by President Nixon in 1973 to disperse authorities out
of the Executive Office of the President, summarized as follows.
This reorganization also meant that all three of the major agencies concerned
with civil emergency preparedness after June 30, 1973, maintained their own separate
regional offices. Consequently, state officials were required to deal with at least three
sets of federal regional officials on often closely related substantive program issues.
It is probably fair to say that state and local dissatisfaction with the fragmentation of
federal emergency preparedness organizational arrangements grew substantially after147
the 1973 reorganization.
Through a series of discussions and studies OMB officials developed a new policy
framework that consolidated emergency management functions into a four-part policy
framework comprising preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation missions. This148
amalgam of policies was referred to as comprehensive emergency management (CEM).
Building upon the work of an interagency reorganization team and using the CEM
framework, President Carter proposed that certain emergency operational and
coordination functions previously dispersed throughout the federal government be brought
under the jurisdiction of one independent agency. Administration officials recommended
that a new federal entity be established to administer many of the federal policies related
to the management of emergencies. Through a reorganization plan submitted to Congress
in 1978, President Carter advocated the establishment of FEMA based on the following
four fundamental principles.
!First, federal authorities to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to major
civil emergencies should be supervised by one official responsible to the
President and given attention by other officials at the highest levels.
!Second, an effective civil defense system requires the most efficient use
of all available emergency resources.
!Third, whenever possible, emergency responsibilities should be
extensions of the regular missions of federal agencies.
147 U.S. Office of Management and Budget, President’s Reorganization Project, Federal
Emergency Preparedness and Response Historical Survey (Washington: 1978), p. 40.
148 The CEM concept largely derived from conversations held among state officials in the
A Governor’s Guide, (Washington: 1979). The Council of State Governments,
Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Planning in State Government (Lexington, KY:
!Fourth, federal hazard mitigation activities should be closely linked with
emergency preparedness and response functions.149
Under the second principle, an all hazards approach was perceived to be needed to
ensure that civil defense resources and systems for warning, evacuation, and preparedness
would be available for any disaster, regardless of cause, in order to achieve the “most
efficient use of all available emergency resources.” The all-hazards principle advocated
by the Carter Administration paralleled legislation previously approved by Congress150
Equipment, plans, procedures, and policies needed to prepare for and respond to one type
of catastrophe (e.g., a natural disaster) can, under the all-hazards concept, be applied to
emergency management tasks associated with other catastrophes (such as terrorist
at t acks). 151
The third reorganization principle enunciated in the reorganization plan advocated
the retention of emergency responsibilities in agencies as “extensions” of their regular
missions. As detailed in the plan, this would be achieved by authorizing FEMA “to
coordinate and plan [emphasis added] for the emergency deployment of resources that
have other routine uses. There is no need to develop a separate set of federal skills and
capabilities for those rare occasions when catastrophe occurs.”152 In summary, the Office
of Management and Budget study that led to the creation of FEMA advocated the
centralization of responsibilities within the new agency, but perceived the need to spread
operational responsibilities across the government to regulate and manage specific types
Commensurate with the third principle (and with the absence of legislative action),
some emergency management functions were not transferred to FEMA in 1978. For
example, disaster loans for small businesses and agricultural producers continued to be
administered by the Small Business Administration and the Department of Agriculture.
Hazardous materials and oil spills remained part of the preparedness and response
missions of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard. Rather than
build redundant programs and activities in the new agency, the Carter Administration and
Congress left unchanged the missions of many agencies.
149 U.S. President (Carter), “Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978,” H. Doc. 95-356, 95th Cong.,
150 In 1976 Congress amended the Civil Defense Act of 1950 to recognize that the civil
defense system could be used “to provide relief and assistance to people in areas of the
United States struck by disasters other than disasters caused by enemy attack.” P.L. 94-361,
151 For details, see U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, Guide for All-Hazard
Emergency Operations Planning: State and Local guide (101) (Washington: 2001),
available at [http://www.fema.gov/rrr/allhzpln.shtm], visited Aug. 19, 2005.
152 U.S. President Carter, “Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978,” p. 3.
153 U.S. Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, President’s
Reorganization Project, Federal Emergency Preparedness and Response Historical Survey
(Washington: 1978), pp. 69-70.
The task of centralizing some emergency authority in FEMA resolved some
problems; however, the retention of parallel authorities elsewhere complicated efforts by
the new leadership. For more than a decade after the agency’s establishment, FEMA
officials struggled to develop the agency and bring coherence to the range of federal
authorities and missions viewed by many to be muddled and inefficient. The task of
coordinating these activities was formidable, due in part to the essential role exercised by
state and local governments as well as non-governmental organizations.154 Some of
FEMA’s federal “partners” did not readily cede authority, and even units within the
agency reportedly showed signs of poor cooperation. The low point may have been
reached in the late 1980s and in 1992 after critics claimed that the responses to Hurricanes
Hugo (1988) and Andrew (1992) were faulty. Some called for FEMA’s abolition. Other
legislation would have significantly reformed the agency.155 In the end, significant
administrative changes, not legislative, were made in the 1990s and guided FEMA to a
reputation amongst some as a model agency.156 Issues that challenged FEMA’s leadership
over the first decade of the agency’s existence included the following:
!inconsistent access to the President and lack of administrative strength
to force other federal administrators to share authority, as the FEMA
director was not a member of the Cabinet and headed a relatively small
independent agency with a limited budget;
!the integration of different cultures and missions (fire safety, civil
defense, insurance, environmental management) into one agency with a
broad, new, and undefined policy agenda;
154 A few of the many reports issued by the General Accounting Office (now Government
Accountability Office) in the 1980s and 1990s provide an indication of the challenges faced
by FEMA administrators. See U.S. General Accounting Office, Federal Disaster
Assistance: What Should the Policy Be?, GAO Report PAD-80-39 (Washington: June 16,
1980). Stronger Direction Needed for the National Earthquake Program, GAO report
RCED-83-103 (Washington: July 26, 1983). Management of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency — A System Being Developed, GAO Report GGD-83-9 (Washington:
January 6, 1983). Disaster Assistance: Federal, State, and Local Response to Natural
Disasters Needs Improvement, GAO Report RCED-91-43 (Washington: March 6, 1991).
Disaster Management: Improving the Nation’s Response to Catastrophic Disasters, GAO
Report RCED-93-186 (Washington: July 23, 1993).
155 See S. 1697, 103rd Cong., the Federal Disaster Preparedness and Response Act of 1994.
156 For a discussion of administration and policy changes made see R. Steven Daniels and
Carolyn L. Clark-Daniels, Transforming Government: The Renewal and Revitalization of
the Federal Emergency Management Agency (The PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for
the Business of Government: University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2000). FEMA
exercised limited authority regarding human caused catastrophes such as terrorist attacks.
Presidential Decision Directive-39 authorized FEMA to undertake consequence
management tasks associated with the use of weapons of mass destruction, and the agency
had a limited role in training state and local officials to respond to the use of such weapons.
For an overview of FEMA’s authority under PDD-39, see the 1997 hearing statement of
Catherine H. Light, Director, FEMA Terrorism Coordination Unit, before the House
National Security Committee, available at [http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/congress/
!the seemingly far-reaching authority in policy areas (comprehensive
emergency management for all hazards) that touched upon the missions
of other federal agencies and departments.
One explanation, among others, for the struggles FEMA administrators encountered
to accomplish its missions rests with the discrepant second and third principles set out in
President Carter’s 1978 reorganization plan. As originally envisioned, FEMA officials
were expected to meet the full range of emergency management needs associated with the
CEM framework, for all hazards. This is arguably the broadest mandate possible, which
might cover events before and after incidents from complex national security threats,
industrial accidents that could threaten hundreds or thousands of lives, nuclear power
plant malfunctions, and public health threats and emergencies, to relatively minor
incidents such as storms that resulted in some damages and losses. The mission of FEMA
was potentially as broad as any federal policy area. FEMA progressed in wobbly steps,
due to the difficulties of balancing the two potentially conflicting principles of
administering its comprehensive all-hazards mission and meeting the visible and public
challenges of helping communities stricken by catastrophes, while being constrained by
parallel or convergent authorities of other federal agencies. In short, the theoretically
wide-ranging emergency management policy mission for FEMA had to be squeezed
between the “regular missions” of other federal agencies.
One might contend that the success of the agency in the 1990s was due, in large part,
to the focus on natural disasters and the limited need to be concerned with other threats,
such as those stemming from terrorist attacks or industrial accidents. The complexity of
the latter types of incidents, arguably might have challenged the abilities of the small
Some recognized that FEMA’s focus on natural disasters, and the dispersed authority
for aspects of emergency management among federal agencies, created gaps in emergency
management capabilities. For example, in the winter of 2001 the U.S. Commission on
National Security/21st Century, also known as the Hart/Rudman Commission, reported
on the lack of preparedness for catastrophic terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass
destruction. The Commission recommended establishment of a National Homeland
Security Agency (NHSA) based largely on FEMA’s all-hazards mission in order to better
coordinate federal policy.158 Also, the perspective of state and local officials who sought
preparedness assistance from federal agencies was summarized by one analyst roughly a
year before the 9/11 attacks as a process of inter-agency jockeying. This complaint
appears reminiscent of complaints raised in the 1970s that led to the establishment of
157 For example, a review of federal emergency authorities related to the release of
hazardous material found the existing system to be “complex, confusing, and costly.” This
conclusion led to the development of an Integrated Contingency Plan Guidance “to be used
by facilities to prepare emergency response plans.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
“The National Response Team’s Integrated Contingency Plan Guidance,” Federal Register,
vol. 61, June 5, 1996, pp. 28642-28664.
158 U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, Road Map for National Security:
Imperative for Change, available at [http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/nssg/phaseIIIfr
.pdf], visited July 28, 2005.
For their part, local officials soon deduced that the federal “partners” were busier
competing with each other for missions and resources than they were coordinating
their efforts. The equipment grant programs of the Defense, Health and Human
Services, and Justice Departments all had varying timelines and requirements, slightly
different goals, and conflicting views on priorities regarding how to accomplish cerain
response tasks. Another byproduct of the lack of federal coordination was the
creation of roughly ninety terrorism preparedness courses. Firefighters alone could
get training from three federal agencies, headlined by the Army’s Domestic159
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and perhaps more even more
significantly, the tragedy associated with Hurricane Katrina have refocused attention on
the deficiencies in federal emergency management policies and administrative functions.
While not agreeing with all of the Commission’s recommendations, Congress acted upon
some of it’s findings following the 9/11 attacks. Enactment of the Homeland Security Act
of 2002 (HSA) established the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Congress
vested the new department with greater authority and standing than envisioned by the
Hart/Rudman Commission for NHSA. The statute consolidated authorities beyond those
given to FEMA in 1978 and created a place for FEMA inside the new department. Title
V of the HSA established the Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) Directorate
and retained the FEMA mission as one of all-hazards comprehensive emergency
management, except for terrorism preparedness, responsibility for which was given to the
Border and Transportation Security Directorate (Title IV of the HSA).
In summary, the evolution of the emergency management policy area into the new,
and undefined, homeland security policy field, and the transition of the organizations from
FEMA to DHS mirror past actions and issues of debate. Secretary Chertoff’s 2SR
proposal is the next step in the evolution of the policy area and the assignment of duties
to the appropriate administrative entity. Just as President Carter, with the consent of the
Congress passed the HSA in 2002 to more fully integrate and coordinate federal
emergency preparedness and response missions.160 However, the authorities that brought
FEMA into existence in 1979 did not consolidate all federal emergency management
authorities, and, as a result, the reorganization resulted in an imbalance between the
perception that FEMA could exercise broad authority and the reality of constraints faced
by agency officials. Similarly, the HSA did not centralize all federal emergency functions
within FEMA (or the EPR directorate), and also did not consolidate all pertinent
authorities into DHS. The imbalance remains as FEMA and other DHS officials continue
to struggle to establish cooperative mechanisms that bridge jurisdictional boundaries. The
159 Smithson and Levy, Ataxia: The Chemical and Biological Terrorism Threat and the U.S.
Response, p. xiv.
160 The 108th Congress reemphasized the need to ensure coordination through enactment of
Sec. 7405 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458)
as follows: “The Secretary of Homeland Security shall ensure that there is effective and
ongoing coordination of federal efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to acts of
terrorism and other major disasters and emergencies among the divisions of the Department
of Homeland Security, including the Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response
and the Office for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness.”
Administration officials continue to wrestle with the dilemma of matching emergency
(homeland security) policy and missions to organizations.