Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 2, 2011

First Draft: National Preparedness Goal

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on September 2, 2011

Midnight tonight is the deadline for your comments on the current draft of the National Preparedness Goal.  The downloaded document provides instructions on how to make your comments.

At the end of March Presidential Policy Decision 8 included the following:

I hereby direct the development of a national preparedness goal that identifies the core capabilities necessary for preparedness and a national preparedness system to guide activities that will enable the Nation to achieve the goal… The national preparedness goal shall be informed by the risk of specific threats and vulnerabilities – taking into account regional variations – and include concrete, measurable, and prioritized objectives to mitigate that risk. The national preparedness goal shall define the core capabilities necessary to prepare for the specific types of incidents that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation, and shall emphasize actions aimed at achieving an integrated, layered, and all-of-Nation preparedness approach that optimizes the use of available resources. The national preparedness goal shall reflect the policy direction outlined in the National Security Strategy (May 2010), applicable Presidential Policy Directives, Homeland Security Presidential Directives, National Security Presidential Directives, and national strategies, as well as guidance from the Interagency Policy Committee process. The goal shall be reviewed regularly to evaluate consistency with these policies, evolving conditions, and the National Incident Management System.

The draft document offers a succinct statement of the goal:

Our National Preparedness Goal is a secure and resilient Nation that has created the capacity for the organized commitment of the whole community, in the shortest possible time and under all conditions, to successfully prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, or recover from the threats that pose the greatest risk to the Nation.

A secure nation is not a new goal.  A resilient nation, while not a new goal, has seldom (ever?) been accorded strategic equivalency with security.  The emphasis on the whole community is also not precisely new, but it is given heightened priority in this statement.  Focusing on the capacity of the organized commitment of the whole community to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and recover is a potentially helpful strategic differentiation.  (The “capacity of organized commitment” is, however, something worth unpacking a bit more. I have a sense the attention to speed and condition also has more meaning embedded than is immediately apparent.)

Consistent with the President’s instructions, the draft National Preparedness Goal gives attention to core capabilities.  The definition offered by the draft is:

A “capability” is the ability to provide the means to accomplish one or more tasks under specific conditions and to specific performance standards. A capability may be achieved with any combination of properly planned, organized, equipped, trained, and exercised personnel that  achieves the intended outcome. “Core capabilities” are those that are central to the Nation’s  ability to achieve our National Preparedness Goal. Their availability is essential and  indispensable for the execution of the mission, and therefore, they are subject to continuous  monitoring and management at all levels.

The draft offers forty-two core capabilities, as outlined in this graphic (a larger version will open if you click on the graphic):

The draft document provides considerable detail on each of the core capabilities.  There is a particular effort to identify meaningful performance measures for each capability.

Three critiques intended to be constructive:

1. Despite the draft regularly invoking an all-hazards perspective, do the prevent and protect focus areas strike you as tilting heavily to counter-terrorism? They do to me.  When I look at the individual core capabilities “prevent” might be better entitled “preempt”.   Looks like these core capabilities are mostly practiced when bad guys/gals have a clear intention to cause harm.  There’s not much (any?) attention to forestalling bad intentions.

2. Taken together the proposed preparedness architecture seems mostly a matter of preparing-to-respond.  The protect collection strikes me as focused on potential terrorist threats and a kind of strategic agility similar to the Great Wall of China or the Maginot Line.   Mitigate  provides a few proactive, positive steps to increase actual strength and resilience.  We might be able to conceive a couple of recover’s core capabilities as offering constructive opportunities.   But the overall approach seems, at least to me, quite defensive in stance.  I want to be prepared to engage opportunities, as well as deal with problems.

3.  The draft National Preparedness Goal gives considerable attention to security.  In this the NPG is consistent with previous priorities.  The new draft goal gives equal priority to resilience. I regret that I do not see how the core capabilities and performance measures as currently articulated substantially advance resilience.  This new goal seeks to more fully involve the whole community.  I do not see how the core capabilities and performance measures as currently articulated would substantially enhance the commitment of the whole community to the preparedness mission.

First drafts are usually more expansive — and unwieldy — than subsequent drafts. Producing a reasonable first draft in a timely fashion is helpful to public consideration and comment. In final draft effective goal-setting will probably involve a tightened focus, clarification, and crystallization.  It will be interesting to see what is sent to the President on September 25.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 2, 2011 @ 2:04 am

Okay I am probably subject to fads as much as the next guy but I really did like the arrival of the term “RESILIENCE” on the horizon with the new Obama Administration. I always did find it a better term incorporating the other EM paradigms of preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery that came out of the CEM [Comprehensive Emergency Management] concepts of the STATE Governors in the 70’s and led to the NGA study in multiple volumes [6] by the NGA [National Governors Association] in the mid-70’s.
So rather than duplicating and overlapping the existing National Preparedness Goal and its Target Capabilities List [TCL] that are not specifically referenced in PPD-8 but pretends to start with a Tabulae Rasae [sic] I would have preferred a NRG [National Resilience Goal] in a totally new PPD-8 that charted new territory from HSPD-8 and its Annex I.
My new PPD therefore would have completely focused on RESILIENCE and note that in June 2009 a 30 person RESILIENCE unit was created in the NSS but seems to have been largely devoted to foreign adventures although some like HAITI clearly had implications for the USA. [And don’t get me started on the seething cauldron of humanity left abandoned a mere 700 miles off shore by the USA while both China and Cuba continue to help reform and rebuild that destroy ed nation-state while the USA pretends its NGOs can replace governance for it]!

So here in brief is my NATIONAL RESILIENCE GOAL!

“Crisis and catastrophe can impact the USA and almost any of its governmental units and people in a variety of ways from the spectrum of incidents or events threatened or that actually occur. The objective of the nation’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management system and processes is to assist those American governmental units and people and their property in protection, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery from those incidents/events in accordance with basic American principles that are true to our Constitution and other legal frameworks and consistent with a government by the people and for the people so that it can long endure.
RESILIENCE is a bottom up effort that must engage all of the American people, in their families, homes, offices, and daily life and toil. It therefore requires all those who design, implement, and operate the systems and processes that directly impact day to day life in America to understand the possible threats to that RESILIENCE that exist either man-made or by natural causes. And whatever can be done should be identified to the extent possible by the scientists and engineers and other disciplines so that given the finite limits on choices due to time, efforts and financial and other resources the choices being made are made by the Americans themselves to the extent possible. Thus a RESILIENCE IMPACT ASSESSMENT will be conducted in a practical, efficient, and effective way of all federal programs, functions, and activities to design more resilient systems and processes for the American people. This will be a long term commitment and will build on what so far has been accomplished that meets resilience standards, goals, objectives, risk management principles as opposed to as opposed to treating these concepts as something isolated from democratic norms and subject to dictation by special interest groups. No such special interest group has the right to impact the RESILIENCE of the American people’s system of governance, economy, or life or property as if its private interests are the only paramount concern.”

Probably sounds like I am trying to incorporate Mazlov’s heirarchy of needs into government policy but clearly those needs do need to be considered and protected in many ways. FEW organizations can do the line-drawing for our society and culture in private so my hope is that public debate and adoption of RESILIENCE as a goal could well become worthy of aligning with other basic purposes of government so that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, is a possibility to the extent possible.

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September 2, 2011 @ 2:26 am

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Comment by John G Comiskey

September 3, 2011 @ 9:09 am

Cultivate preparedness & resilience.

The proposed National Preparedness and National Resiliency Goals are more about telling and imposing goals than about attaining those same goals.

I ask a lot of people outside the homeland security community about preparedness and resiliency. Most know/care little; notwithstanding the recent 5 days out from Hurricane Irene rush to preparedness.

I sense that most people assume that emergency preparedness is mostly a government responsibility. While resiliency is a buzz word in HLS circles, its usage is mostly limited to academia and the Obama administration’s progressive national/homeland security agenda.

*For the record, I am an advocate of National Resiliency for all matters and most recently for Economic Resiliency.

I agree that National Preparedness and Resiliency requires a whole of community enterprise.

Sadly, our educational system was mentioned a mere two times and was deprived of its preeminence.

IMHO, National Preparedness and Resiliency is best cultivated in an integrated K-12 curriculum predicated on Emersonian self-reliance.

Educators should be and can be Nation Builders!
See: Obama Makes Education a State of Union Centerpiece


Cultivate education with leadership –national reading day, national writing day, national math day, national science day, national social science day –national education month! Cultivate!

Comment by A Failed Government & Industry

September 4, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

Remaining in the dark almost six full days last week here in New England by a storm which was saw no wind gusts even reaching hurricaane strnegth — between government and local industry as well as the electric companies – We here on Main Street USA see quite clearly how indifferent and unprepared officials depict and how our survival depends much on ourseleves and fellow neighbors — Washington and its “Beltway Bandits” are still on vacation!

Christopher Tingus

Comment by Alan Wolfe

September 5, 2011 @ 8:27 am

Yes, it is too terrorism-focused. According to the draft, the “prevent” pillar is solely focused on terrorism. Whatever happened to “plan”? The Homeland Security Enterprise has been highjacked by the military. I also dislike the “maximum of maximums” meta-scenario. It is useless as described, especially if the intention is to use it for budget drills that enable the “preparedness” against all of those potential hazards and incidents. Weak. No realism involved in this lengthy exercise.

Comment by Fiscal Hawk

September 7, 2011 @ 5:06 am

Forensics and Attribution are (principally) tools of law enforcement. Prrevention is a secondary effect of successful attribution. It is not clear that law enforcement (and its tools) should be part of this framework. Forensics could also be considered to be a tool of intelligence, but to invert the role of tools and the program missions they support does not bode well for the success of the framework.

I note that of 151 performance objectives, items 6 through 104 (98 items, 65%) are under Protect.

To clear up the vagueness with how resilience is implemented, it could be combined with the concept of recovery. Resilience is a measure of the ability to recover.

Comment by CPB11

September 12, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

Getting beyond the philosophical and academic aspects to the boots on the ground perspective…

What is the expectation for state and local folks who have been aligning their multi-year preparedness programs (training, equipment, exercises, etc) to the existing TCL and HSPD-8? Do they re-define everything to these core capabilities? If so, that needs to be stated without ambiguity.

Additionally, the Implementation plan describes capabilities as “the ability to provide the means
to accomplish a series of tasks under specific conditions and to specific performance standards”
and “achieved with any combination of
properly planned, organized, equipped, trained, and exercised personnel that achieves the
intended outcome.” Are all of these “core capabilities” (e.g., situational awareness, infrastructure systems) consistent with that definition?

Does “public health and medical services” suffice as a capabilty given the array of threats and hazards we all face? Would that capability mean the same thing for an earthquake that it would for a pandemic or a drought? What is the relationship of these core capabilities to the CDC Public Health Preparedness Capabilities?

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October 24, 2011 @ 9:15 am

[…] on the Goal by the Homeland Security Policy Institute.  Other important comments were made on the Homeland Security Watch Blog. I also agree with their […]

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