Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Governor's Guide to Homeland Security

The National Governor's Association (NGA) recently released A Governor's Guide to Homeland Security, the purpose of which is: provide governors with an overview of their homeland security roles and responsibilities and to offer some guidance on how to approach issues such as mutual aid, information sharing, obtaining assistance from the military, and protecting critical infrastructure.
Essentially the document is a primer on preparation and response. It assumes that the reader is generally unfamiliar with many planning and response mechanisms, so it spends a lot of time describing these. It's useful for anyone who wants an overview of emergency preparation and response from the state-level perspective.

Some portions of the guide are worth highlighting, though, mostly because they describe efforts to collaborate and share information. Most interesting is the description of some public-private partnerships. While the guide points out that ...
Partnering effectively with the private sector to improve disaster preparedness and response is an area of emergency management that has begun to receive attention only recently.
... and ...
Thus far, most public-private partnerships in the area of emergency preparedness and response exist at the local, rather than at the state, level.
... there is a real need, and some real benefits, to collaborating with the private sector - especially with owners of critical infrastructure assets:
Governors should work closely with the private sector to develop emergency response and risk communications plans for incidents affecting privately owned systems or infrastructure. Forging a trust-based relationship between emergency response officials and the private sector is essential to ensure effective security preparations, including accurate vulnerability assessments and the integration of private-sector emergency response plans with those of government agencies.

During the 2004 hurricane season, Florida utilities sent representatives to the state emergency operations center (EOC) and to local government EOCs. Other utility officials were available by telephone or other communications systems. As a result, emerging problems were capable of being solved at the local level by officials who felt empowered to make critical decisions and then report what they had accomplished.
Within government, the need for information sharing remains great:
A lack of information sharing can be an obstacle to implementing an effective homeland security strategy. The fragmented nature of data collection and incident reporting among state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies hinders their ability to connect information that may point to terrorist plots or other ongoing criminal activity, and the private sector—which owns a significant amount of data and an estimated 85 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure—often is not connected to the homeland security intelligence and information-sharing networks.
So far, efforts to share information about potential threats and responses have largely been funneled through state fusion centers (which I've previously discussed here, here, here, here, here, and here). The guide briefly describes how a few of these fusion centers operate:
Arizona’s fusion center, known as the Arizona Counter-Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC), opened in 2004 as the state’s central analysis hub for real-time crime and terrorism-related intelligence and information. ACTIC is staffed with more than 200 detectives, special agents, analysts, and other personnel representing 34 state, local, and federal agencies. ACTIC also includes a complete integration of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

Georgia’s Information Sharing and Analysis Center (GISAC) has an analytical and investigatory role. Each investigator is assigned an analyst, and officials report regular contact between investigators and their assigned analysts to share information.

The Illinois Statewide Terrorism Intelligence Center (STIC) includes analysts and representatives of agencies dealing with narcotics, sex offenses, violent crimes, andmotor vehicle theft. ... In 2005, the Illinois STIC colocated its facility with the state emergency operations center.

In 2006, North Carolina opened its Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAAC). The ISAAC serves as the focal point for collection, analysis, and dissemination of information on possible terrorist and criminal threats. ... ISAAC staff collaborate to analyze information from a variety of sources, including tips from the public, public records such as driver’s license and vehicle registration records, and national law enforcement databases.
Because collaboration among agencies is also vital, the guide also describes some of the intrastate mutual aid organizations that states have set up:
Several states already had, or have since developed, state-wide mutual aid programs. In April 2002, for example, Iowa introduced a voluntary statewide mutual aid program known as the Iowa Mutual Aid Compact (IMAC). Modeled on the national Emergency Management Assistance Compact, IMAC establishes a system through which political subdivisions can help each other during disasters that have been declared either by local officials or by the governor.

Kansas has a similar statewide mutual aid system, created in the 2006 Kansas Intrastate Mutual Aid Act. The act provides for a system of intrastate mutual aid between participating political subdivisions in cases of declared disasters as well as during drills and exercises in preparation for such disasters.

In Illinois, meanwhile, the fire service developed and implemented a mutual aid system that began in the northern part of the state but has since expanded to all of Illinois, southern Wisconsin, and parts of Indiana. The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) comprises hundreds of fire departments and provides an orderly system for dispatching fire and emergency medical service equipment and personnel to fires, accidents, or other incidents. ... The system is managed through geographic divisions by which local fire departments can access assistance. From its inception, MABAS included procedures for ensuring the integration of assisting personnel and equipment into the local command structure.
Also regarding mutual aid, the guide points out that all 50 states are now part of the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC):
The National Governors Association has endorsed EMAC and, in 2006, Hawaii became the 50th state to join the compact, which also counts District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands among its members.
However, the experience of Hurricane Katrina shows that EMAC remains unfamiliar to some local and federal agency personnel:
Out-of-state teams were able to reach affected areas of the Gulf Coast efficiently through EMAC deployments. However, their integration with response crews already on the ground was complicated by the fact that many local officials, and some federal officials, were unfamiliar with EMAC and questioned or rejected the credentials of the EMAC-deployed teams.
In addition to intrastate mutual aid and EMAC, states
can also see benefits from regional organizations:
Similarly, governors should consider working together to develop strategies for managing events that affect regions of the country. In some regions, this already is taking place.The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER), which comprises Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon, created a partnership for regional infrastructure security to develop a regional protection, preparedness, and response plan for dealing with infrastructure-related emergencies.
In 2006, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano signed a memorandum of understanding with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson that will enable the four southwest border states to share unclassified and classified intelligence information to provide better security along the border.
One thing that affects states' ability to choose various options for homeland security is the underlying structure of their homeland security organizations. The guide points out that states have chosen one of three main structures:

Homeland Security Advisor with Committee/Coordinating Council: Some governors have appointed homeland security advisors or directors to provide direct counsel to and speak on behalf of the governor on matters related to homeland security. [T]he advisor often chairs a committee — made up of representatives of relevant state agencies, including public safety, the National Guard, emergency management, public health, and others—charged with developing preparedness and response strategies. [Examples: Maryland, Nebraska, Washington]

Department of Homeland Security: [G]overnors are beginning to create state departments of homeland security that have the statutory authority to oversee operations as well as to develop all-hazards approaches to mitigation, preparedness, and response. [Examples: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Indiana]

Homeland Security Functions Under Existing Agencies: In many states, the homeland security functions have been assigned to an existing agency, such as public safety or the military department. Generally, these homeland security advisors, at a minimum, coordinate response resources and activities across the various state agencies, and in many cases, they have planning and budgetary authority. [Examples: Florida, Idaho]

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