Monday, October 08, 2007

Complications of a Regional Approach

I like the regional approach to security. A number of states have taken regional approaches, from Massachusetts, to Virginia, to Missouri. DHS has encouraged regional and multistate approaches; so has the National Governor's Association.

Many potential threats - both natural and man-made - are regional in scope. Regional approaches foster collaboration between neighboring jurisdictions, even those across international boundaries, such as

But there is a trick. We have existing government structures for local communities, states, and the nation. But for regions - not so much.

The Altoona Mirror reported that Pennsylvania has experienced problems defining ownership of assets that had been acquired for regional task forces:

The South Central Mountain Counter-Terrorism Task Force stopped its financial operations this summer because of concerns raised about who owns the federally funded equipment distributed throughout the eight-county region.

"The task force equipment wouldn’t have been locked up, and we wouldn’t have been told, 'You can’t use it,'" said Dave Cubbison, director of the Bedford County Department of Emergency Services.

Ownership became an issue when Centre County was advised by its auditor last year that it should list itself as the owner of all equipment bought for the task force. Centre is the task force’s financial agent.

The county disagreed with the finding because the equipment had been distributed throughout the eight counties.

"It was never clarified by the state," Nichols said.

The clarification came in a June e-mail from PEMA, which buys the equipment. The county that receives the equipment through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant is considered the "owner," Centre County Emergency Management Director Randy Rockey said.

Financial operations resumed in September after the task force received clarification from the state and federal governments, said task force chairman David Nichols, also Snyder County’s emergency management director.
Pennsylvania has also experienced problems with keeping inventory of available assets.
Another problem identified in the state report is the lack of a centralized database to manage resources on the municipal, county, task force and state levels.

Each county in the task force keeps track of its equipment, mostly on spreadsheets.
If you don't know an asset is available, it might as well not be available. It's critical to share this information.

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