The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs met this morning to consider the nomination of Timothy Manning as FEMA Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness.
The following is a real-time report, but due to technical difficulties is being posted after the hearing’s conclusion. Prepared testimony should eventually be found on the Committee’s website.
In Chairman Lieberman’s opening, he emphasizes the value of linking preparedness with mitigation, response, and recovery. He highlights the fundamental role of prevention and protection in the strategic continuum of homeland security.
In his brief opening statement, Mr. Manning says, “I believe a strong and resilient nation can only be built on a solid foundation of preparedness. I believe that through strong partnerships; between cities, counties, States, and territories, tribal governments, the federal government, the private sector and — most importantly — the American people, this is achievable. Through a collaborative, joint process of doctrine development and implementation across all levels of government, and the furtherance of community resilience and readiness, we can overcome the missteps of the past, and the mistrust between partners that has developed in places.” (He said it slightly differently, I am not sure about “doctrine development” but this is pretty close.)
These two sentences are worth the kind of analysis, parsing, unpacking, and even hypter-texting that has been given the Nicene Creed. Like the Nicene Creed, it may signal an effort to organize a capable but very diverse movement around core principles.
The Chairman follows-up with an inquiry about the Committee’s commitment to rejoining preparedness with response. He asks, “What will you do to strengthen FEMA and especially the role of preparedness?” Mr. Manning emphasizes that preparedness “transcends” the traditional boundaries of emergency management. Preparedness needs to be built-into every aspect of emergency management and the homeland security disciplines.
The Chairman asks, “What is the role of the National Preparedness Directorate?” Mr. Manning responds that it is a “peace-time activity, if you will,” that prepares professionals to 1) look past the current crisis for lessons-learned and principles to apply in the future, 2) works with responders to be better prepared for tomorrow’s threats, and 3) assumes and advocates that we are all emergency managers. I understand that “all” to include all homeland security disciplines and the general citizenry. But Mr Manning was not explicit in this regard.
In reference to the swine flu crisis — then self-corrected to H1N1 — the Chairman asks, what is the role of FEMA in managing the unfolding situation. Mr. Manning responds that the Preparedness Directorate should match state, local, tribal and private sector partners with expertise to implement policy, strategy, and plans; as well as look at implications for the next crisis.
Senator Akaka points toward the H1N1 virus and hurricane threats, and the FEMA vacancy rate as priorities. He then asks about how FEMA can better respond to a geographically isolated jurisdiction, such as Hawaii. Mr. Manning responds by emphasizing the FEMA role to support State and local leadership, especially through education, training, and upfront logistics planning and pre-deployment.
Senator Akaka asks about emergency preparedness plans and pandemic plans. Mr. Manning responds that because of investments in planning and training over the last several years we are better prepared for the pandemic threat than may be the case for any other foreseeable risk. He also emphasizes the role of measurement in assessing how prior plans are being implemented now. Honest measurement and accountability will enhance readiness for dealing with future risks.
The Chairman follows-up with a question about the National Exercise Program. He perceives the Program is not fulfilling its potential. How can after-action and corrective-action be improved? Mr. Manning states that the evaluation phase of an exercise is what is most important. He outlines the need for a consistent two-phase process: a quick , meaningful flash assessment followed by a more complete and detailed full assessment.
(Full Disclosure: I consider Tim Manning a friend. In a profound disability for a blogger, I am inclined to give others the benefit of the doubt and this is especially my stance with friends. But Tim and I occasionally differ — imagine that — and I will endeavor to engage in a rigorous appreciative inquiry regarding his leadership of a FEMA function that I consider critically important and too often neglected.)