Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

March 16, 2012

Crossing the chasm in preparedness… and homeland security

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on March 16, 2012

Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8) is nearly one year old.  On Tuesday Chris Bellavita pointed to the emerging collection of frameworks intended to advance the policy.

I have given particular attention to the proposed mitigation framework.  PPD-8 gives mitigation much more priority than previous presidential policies.

The mitigation framework is well-conceived, well-written, and helpfully describes the role of mitigation and its relationship with other core capabilities. I don’t know who authored the current draft, but s/he has done a good job.

I also finished each reading a bit more depressed.  I stopped after my third review.

The following, taken from pages 17-18, specifies how community resilience is cultivated as a context for effective mitigation.  This contributed to my dark mood:

Objectives and Key Actions:

  • Inspire and empower accountable action. Individuals and private organizations engage with government at all levels to make resilience happen.
  • Foster social, environmental, and economic resilience in every community to increase the capacity of the community to thrive through all kinds of change.
  • Know how your community works and how to build partnerships and affect change.
  • Understand the full gamut of risks facing a community, including physical, social, economic, and environmental vulnerabilities to all hazards.
  • Foster sustained communication, civic engagement, and the development and implementation of long-term risk reduction actions in the whole community.
  • Convince communities of the value of mitigation for reducing the impact of disasters and the scale of response and recovery efforts.
  • Identify and promote incentives, not just regulatory compliance. Reward sound choices and identify bad ones.
  • Recognize the interdependent nature of a community’s domains. Community resilience is expressed through a holistic approach to risk reduction, and the success of one element relies upon the resilience capacity of other elements. For example, when a large business facility is retrofitted to account for wind and flood hazards, the community also strengthens area schools, employee housing, and transportation infrastructure to ensure that workers will be able to quickly rebound from an event and return to work.
  • Acknowledge that the skill sets and leadership structures for different hazards and communities of practice (law enforcement, local businesses) may change, but the need for leadership, collaboration, and partnership is the same.
  • Build relationships before disasters or incidents occur.
  • Learn from the past and from what is working in the present.
  • Educate the next generation of community leaders and resilience professionals.
  • Acknowledge and seek out naturally occurring relationships within communities.

I don’t disagree.  In most instances I strongly agree.  But taken together… wowzer, that’s quite an incline.  And that’s just stage-setting for actual mitigation work.

The mitigation framework is packed with several more lists of ambitious objectives and key actions. But there is a missing link, a crucial missing link.

Peter Drucker argued there are only two sources of value: innovation and sales.  Everything else is a cost.

In the PPD-8 process we can recognize innovation.   But where is the sales plan?  Who are the sales people?  Only with effective sales will the potential value of the innovation be realized.

Resilience, whole-community, mitigation have their enthusiasts.  Each and all have their visionaries.  So do many innovations that fail to achieve broad market appeal.   Most innovations fail.

But a few fabulously succeed.   In 1991 Geoff Moore characterized what separates winners and losers as consisting of three chasms:

1. Crossing the chasm from visionaries to pragmatic early adopters will only happen if the innovation is recognized as generating some form of comparative advantage for the user. (Does the mitigation framework make this case? I don’t think so — not yet, but it probably could.)

2. Crossing the chasm from pragmatists to conservatives can fail if too much effort is required to use the product/service.  (The current description, as above, sounds hard.  In my experience it is difficult.  What can be done to authentically simplify or, at least, chunk and sequence the work to avoid discouraging adoption?  There is still time to do this.)

3. Crossing the chasm from conservatives to skeptics is especially tough, but this tends to characterize truly transformational products.  There can be a big pay-off from creatively listening  to the Eeyore’s.

The biggest, baddest chasm is coming up soon for PPD-8.   What is the compelling comparative advantage for adopting the policy and its frameworks?   Will enough pragmatists be persuaded to pull resilience, whole-community, mitigation and more across the chasm from the early market into the mainstream market?

Can an innovative public policy be sold?  Should it be marketed?  It probably depends on your definition of selling.  I define selling as knowing the needs of the customer and honestly, positively, persuasively demonstrating how a product fulfills those needs.  Co-development of the product with the customer is golden.

Where are the demonstration projects? Where are the exploratory pilots? Where are the shared opportunities for private-public discovery-learning? Where is the inter-governmental professional development and research? Where is the interdisciplinary action research?  These are all strategic, substantive means of selling.

Drucker once wrote, “You need four things.  You need a plan.  You need marketing.  You need people.  And you need money.”

With the frameworks finalized the PPD-8 innovations will have a plan.  There will be money — both administrative and grants — to execute the plan.   There will also be people, especially public sector people, to execute the plan and spend the money.

But Drucker’s second source of value — marketing (and people to do the marketing) — is not yet on the scene.   This is the bridge across the widest chasm.  This is the link to communities, civic organizations, and the private sector.  There is no bridge. There is not even a marketing rope thrown across the gap.  Right now we have Steve Wozniak‘s innovations without Steve Job’s marketing.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

March 16, 2012 @ 7:19 am

Excellent comment! My guess is the mitigation framework was largely a contractor produced document for FEMA. Unfortunately, PPD-8 called for national frameworks and mitigation in FEMA and DHS is a stepchild. My guess will be gone in the next year or two from FEMA and DHS. Why? The mapping community understands exactly how to game FEMA’s maps. And the maps which at one time represented the enforcement effort for the NFIP are now retarding mitigation compliance and enforcement.

Basically the NFIP, the largest mitigation effort in FEMA, now encourages new construction in unsustainable areas. Catering to the STATES and their local governments, FEMA does not even properly analyze the issues raised by sea level rise and climate change. How could it when it employs no climatologists, geologists, or limnologists. Well that experiment also has failed because of its oversight being based in the BANKING Committees of the Congress, not the Science Committees. And we all know what great oversight was given by the BANKING Committees to the banksters.

Disaster relief has always been about restoration and public works, not mitigation. Even the disaster mitigation expertise in FEMA is not housed with disaster response and recovery. After Hurricane Katrina I was asked how many NOLA’s awaited the fury of MOTHER NATURE and I suggested over 200. Well the USA can no longer afford ignorance in its mitigation efforts. This is an arena needed highly skilled and knowledgeable administrators. The enforcement and compliance staff even for existing regulations is meagre.

It has not helped that the Obama Administration has refused to toughen up President Carter’s Executive Orders 11990 and 11988 dealing with wetlands and floodplains. NOR has the administration made the Water Resources Principles and Guidelines, largely applicable only to the USACOE, applicable throughout the government.

The Coastal Environment means that beach restoration and other related federal expenditures are literally money down the drain. All coastal programs should be housed in NOAA which has the best Scientists and Engineers for Coastal issues.

I could be cruel and just argue that Mitigation has and will be a joke in FEMA unless more thought and leadership is given. But we are close to that label.

And FEMA has long had authority to map flood-related coastal erosion and subsidence but has chosen never to do so even while paying for these hazards through NFIP policies. The STATES which through their negligence have increased the exposure of their populations in hazardous areas refuse to reform themselves, probably largely due to corruption. So why should STATE corruption be paid for by the federal government?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 16, 2012 @ 11:48 am

Bill: A quick comment: The elevation of mitigation to one of the preparedness “core capabilities” was specifically intended to transform mitigation from a “step-child” to a “favored child.” This is one of the principal objectives of PPD-8. The mitigation framework is clearly an effort to reinforce this intention. I perceive this is a critically important shift… for the reasons you have outlined and more. This also underlines why I perceive the “sales plan” and “sales force” is needed. Mitigation will require effective champions in order to achieve the intention.

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 16, 2012 @ 11:54 am

Appears that OFAs [other federal agencies] are supposed to meet the April 2, 2012 deadline for comment as is the Public. Why the rush?

Comment by The Doomsayer

March 17, 2012 @ 2:18 am

Yes, why the rush? Someone pick up the phone and secure an extension, though let’s be honest, will an extended date result in anything more….

The fact of teh matter, it would Not be “cruel” Mr. cumming to refernce Mitigation at FEMA as a joke.

We need more engineers, more scientists and far more detailed, objective and bi-partisan folks in every agency within the beltway. i think we have lost our way and no matter what transpires, we are doomed, thus the “Doomsayer” signature.

NOAA should handle this and while Barry et al focus on their political campaign, this meaingless government authority for the most paret “elected” tp serve the public has failed. Blatently failed.

Mitigation…give us a break.

In less than ten days, I will be in Washington w/$1.75 billion rare earths (heavy) project to sell to these politicians. While i consider this aNatiobal defense Initiative and this treasure chest of rare eareths must be placed in our Defense Nat’l Stockpile, I have advised owner and friend of this one stop source that while we both concur that I must come to washington and present the project for US investment of $1.75 billion or else. The or else…China will be in a dominant position affecting supply and pricing as well as giving an advantage stretegically to the US unless I can sell this treasure to these “Beltway Bandits” as I refer to so many of our tenured politicians who have little or no enlightenment of the serious presentation requiring their full attentiveness. My bet, Chian will unfortunately buy the lot! I have very little faith that anyone is competenly safeguarding our Constitution which is under siege!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

Comment by William R. Cumming

March 17, 2012 @ 6:32 am

Did you know that the National Defense Stockpile policy was once in FEMA? For three months! Under Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1978!

Did you know the word “prevention” undefined was added to the EM paradigm of Preparedness, Mitigation, Response and Recovery in the statute I refer to as PKEMRA 2006, fully effective March 31, 2007!

Did you know that the word “Prevention” has no statutory basis? Source primarily is PPD-8!

Did you know that the various National Strategies and Frameworks almost never refer to related documents or who exactly prepared them or concurred in them?

Did you know that the Insurance and Mitigation Directorate in FEMA is not led by a PAS–Presidentially appointed Senate confirmed principal? Did you know that no document from FEMA describes its role in Prevention, Protection, Mitigation and Preparedness?

Which Directorate in FEMA worries about EMP policy and issues?

Who runs FEMA on a day to day basis?

What does the new Mitigation Framework say about risk analysis, assessment, and utilization of Risk concepts?

What organization in the federal government has the most direct impact on federal flood mitigation strategies and policies? Would you be surprised if it is the Assistant Secretary Army Civil Works?

Enough for today!

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

March 17, 2012 @ 7:21 am

Nice job, Phil. Your insights here are quite useful.

I agree with you when you say Where are the demonstration projects, exploratory pilots, opportunities for learning? I would suggest case examples, real life experiences, and other documented examples of positive actions and outcomes are needed.

I am not optimistic about PPD-8 and its implementation.

Claire B. Rubin

Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 17, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

Claire and Bill:

I know both of you are advocates of effective mitigation. I feel certain the Administration (White House, DHS, and FEMA) is in earnest regarding more and better mitigation, well beyond the flood insurance program.

But sounds like you would each fit in the “skeptical” slice of the market (see graphic in original post).

You each have more experience in one finger-nail than I have in both hands. What’s missing? What policy, strategy, and/or action do you think could be taken to bridge the chasm?

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

March 17, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

Mitigation has always been a hard sell — it takes vision and also requires years of effort. It is an and abstract concept to most and requires long-term planning. Usually short-term matters get priority. Even though researchers have shown that mitigation usually saves $4. for each $1 invested, it remains a difficult concept to sell.

I do not think FEMA has the will, the staff, or the money presently to overcome decades of inertia.
Similar concerns abound for long-term recovery strategy and planning.


Comment by Philip J. Palin

March 19, 2012 @ 9:40 am

Several individuals who have not wanted to comment here, but who wrote me over the weekend have pointed to Project Impact. This was a FEMA mitigation effort discontinued in the first term of President George W. Bush. While there are a range of opinions, there is a shared sense that Project Impact was mostly successful and should, in any case, be examined for lessons-learned as renewed attention to mitigation is spun-up.

A 2002 GAO study of FEMA mitigation efforts is available at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d021035.pdf

What everyone who writes emphasizes is the need for a long-term and sustained approach to mitigation. Mitigation analysis, planning, and implementation often takes several years (think soil conservation or going to the moon). Mitigation can not be achieved if budgets and priorities yo-yo from one year to another or one administration to another.

Does anyone reading this have a personal history with Project Impact to share?

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