Out of the ashes and tumult of Katrina, a new National Response Plan is near ready.Â This might be considered a debut for the National Protection and Programs Directorate at DHS, but I am certain many had a hand in the drafting of this document.Â CQ Homeland Security’s Eileen Sullivan obtained from Hill sources aÂ pre-decisional draft of what is now termed the National Response Framework.
There will be no shortage of analysis by the press, but I thought a few specific items warranted highlighting as of this first glance.
Two places we witnessed painful missed opportunities in the response to Hurricane Katrina included the failure to fully tap into the resources of the private sector and the inability, or perhaps reluctance, to optimize the resources and aid donated by well intentioned allies and friends overseas.
Â The National Response Framework includes this text to address the role of the private sector:
The Private Sector. A quick word about certain nomenclature used herein is appropriate. Common English usage draws a binary distinction between the public and private sectors â€“ meaning those organizations and activities that are formally governmental at all levels, and those that are not. The private sector thus includes many distinct entities, including for-profit businesses (publicly-traded or privately owned), trade associations and nongovernmental organizations, not-for-profit enterprises, faith-based organizations and other voluntary organizations. Of course from another perspective, the private sector is comprised not only of organizations, but of individual citizens and families, who have important obligations to be prepared for emergencies, as discussed further in Chapter I.Â
Private sector businesses play an essential role in protecting critical infrastructure systems and implementing plans for the rapid restoration of normal commercial activities and critical infrastructure operations in the event of disruption. The protection of critical infrastructure and the ability rapidly to restore normal commercial activities can mitigate the impact of a disaster or emergency, improve the quality of life of individuals and accelerate the pace of recovery for communities and the nation. The private sector, NGOs in particular, contributes to response efforts through engaged partnerships with each level of government to assess potential threats, evaluate risk and take actions as may be needed to mitigate threats.
Not a whole lot more than that could I find in my first run through the draft.Â Several mentions of the private sector are threaded throughout the document, but it appears that the main plug-in for private sector coordination remains the Incident Command Structure.Â There were some readers a while ago with significant experience in the plans that preceded the NRP and FEMA’s history in this regard.Â Your comments on how this works would be greatly appreciated.Â In the current draft, the ICS is depicted as follows:
The new Framework provides a nod to the importance of thinking ahead in terms of how the U.S. can effectively manage offers of assistance from other countries.Â In what may appear to be a necessary division of labor, the NRF states rather clearly that the State Department has that task.Â This may also reflect a cautious approach to accepting aid out of concern that any hasty approval or denial of aid offered could risk unintended diplomatic consequences unrelated to the emergency itself.Â Here is language from the draft NRF to this effect:
For major incidents in which foreign governments, individuals or organizations wish to make donations, the U.S. Department of State is responsible for coordinating such donations. Detailed guidance regarding the process for managing international donations is provided in the International Support Annex.