I do not read PPD-8 as a repudiation of HSPD-8. It can even be seen as renewing attention to the fundamental purposes of HSPD-8. Given the comparative paucity of officially promulgated Presidential guidance in this administration, the priority attention being given to preparedness is, at least for me, encouraging.
The December 2003 document directed development of a “national domestic all-hazards preparedness goal” to include, “readiness metrics and elements that support the national preparedness goal including standards for preparedness assessments and strategies, and a system for assessing the Nation’s overall preparedness to respond to major events, especially those involving acts of terrorism.” The new PPD is entirely consistent with this purpose.
The new PPD is also an important reframing of strategic intent. What is new — and important — in PPD-8 is the inclusive character of the goal-development process and the focus on capabilities-based planning.
The capabilities-based focus comes closest to a repudiation of past practice. In part — but only in part — this is direction to stop requiring every county, village, and such to organize its preparedness around all fifteen national planning scenarios.
As Brian Kamoie emphasized in his Friday remarks at the Homeland Security Policy Institute, this is not a rejection or even a critique of the national planning scenarios. But it returns the scenarios to what I perceive was their original purpose as provocative touchstones for thinking and training. The scenarios have gradually morphed into the foundation of a nationwide threat-based planning regime that too often distracts from — and even discourages — authentic local and regional risk analysis.
But the focus on capabilities is much more important — and creative and positive — than correction of past practice. In his influential 2002 monograph for the Department of Defense, Paul Davis explained that capabilities-based planning is:
- A conceptual framework for planning under uncertainty by emphasizing flexibility, robustness, and adaptiveness of capability.
- An analytical framework with three components:1) understanding capability needs, 2)assessing capability options at the level of mission or operation, 3)choosing capability levels and choosing among capability options in an integrative portfolio framework that considers other factors (e.g., force management), different types of risk, and economic limitations.
- A solution framework that emphasizes “building blocks.”
Where PPD-8 especially expands the scope of HSPD-8 is in its embrace of non-governmental capabilities. There is much more emphasis on involving “everyone”. It does not reject the good work achieved since 2003, but PPD-8 certainly encourages an aggressive outreach effort to “galvanize action” and to facilitate an “integrated, all-of-Nation, capabilities-based approach to preparedness.”
When I read the PPD in the context of Brian Kamoie’s explanations, a variety of remarks by Craig Fugate, and my own experience what I take away is something close to: Preparedness will always be insufficient and unsuccessful if it focuses mostly on what the government can do. Government’s most important role is to involve, engage, collaborate, and deliberate with the non-governmental sectors. Preparedness is primarily a non-governmental function.
If this is an accurate interpretation, I agree and admire the courage and intelligence of the policy guidance. I also wonder and worry if there is a realistic understanding of the strategic, operational, and tactical challenges (and changes) this implies.