Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 10, 2008

FEMA Opens Key Response Plan to Public Comment

Filed under: Preparedness and Response — by Jonah Czerwinski on May 10, 2008

FEMA is accepting comments on the draft National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS is a nationwide template for federal, state/local governments, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations to coordinate in prevention, response, and mitigation efforts. The draft NIMS document is available online at www.regulations.gov, in Docket ID FEMA–2008–0008.

On February 28, 2003, the President issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive–5 (HSPD–5), Management of Domestic Incidents, which directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and administer a National Incident Management System (NIMS).

NIMS is described as a “core set of doctrines, concepts, principles, terminology, and organizational processes that enables effective, efficient, and collaborative incident management.” NIMS also supports the development of technologies that facilitate emergency management and incident response.

The changes in this revised NIMS document are described as “not substantively dramatic, and do not alter the basic NIMS doctrine published in the 2004 version.”

Comments must be received by June 2, 2008 via Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov or through FEMA–POLICY@dhs.gov. Be sure to include the Docket ID FEMA–2008–0008.

Previous questions about the first draft NIMS document asked about the specifics of assigned roles and responsibilities for key participants from the federal, state, and local governments, nongovernmental entities, and the private sector.

According to GAO, the TOPOFF 3 exercise in April 2005 illustrated some uneven uptake of the NIMS framework at the federal level. The FBI, wrote GAO, never fully integrated into and accepted the unified command called for under NIMS…”, “did not appropriately staff the incident command post with its representatives,” and “kept management of the investigation separate from the incident management overseen by the unified command.”

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 12, 2008 @ 8:58 am

I hope the lack of comments on this post reflect time and energy devoted to commenting. A brief thought of mine is that since NIMS first surfaced in 2003 why is that history so convoluted. One reason, sign on to the concept. Even when finalized who exactly will have signed on to NIMS and what White House backing does it have for domestic response as a policy umbrella. Who has signed on for the Departments and agencies? Which of the states? What is the evaluation scheme that those orgs impacted have used to determine its benefits or them or not? After al in essence, emergency preparedness and homeland security is still a free market! You can choose to participate and also choose not to do so! In the latter case of course hoping that your Congressional delegation and Congress generally will always bail you out for your misfeasance, non-feansance, or even mal-feasance. The State and Local governments failed to measure up to an over decade old measuring stick SLG 101 (1996) that did not even use the terrorism attachment G. They are still betting that Emergency Management and Homeland Security will be labeled primarily a federal function not realizing that the less they do and accomplish on their own the more likely that the administration will by-pass them as irrelevant in the future (as DOD and Northcom would do now since the Constitution does not seem to be read in DOD). Thus, why not see if NIMS is strong enough to be mandated by Presidential Executive Order, still an unfunded mandate but more likely to survive administrations. And of course it could be adopted by EO by each governor as basic planning guidance. After all we are looking to build a domestic crisis management system, a single system for all-hazards including terrorism, and that objective can only be met by some commonality. Let’s hope this version of NIMS drives it. Also Congress could help by having each Congressional Committee review and report on how NIMS might impact its legistion and be assited by it. And of course, it would be helpful if both CRS and GAO were to do an analysis of how we got to NIMS including the famous NSEP and NECS issued late in the Reagan administrion in 1988 and adopted by all by the critical adminsitration agency designed to be a key player–FEMA. In other words, the long sought REAGAN Administration initative was repudiated by guess who the successor Republican adminstration. Too much time and effort and thought has gone into NIMS to not make it right and have it succeed. Thus, let’s all put our shoulder to the wheel and see what we can do. The last time we really saw an all-hazards effort of this kind was NSDD-47 issued in 1982 that mandated a single crisis management logistics system, never, completed even now, for large-scale unplanned domestic events, up to and including armed conflict and WMD response and recovery.

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