Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 11, 2013

Answers to 30 questions about the 2013 National Preparedness Report

Filed under: General Homeland Security,Preparedness and Response — by Christopher Bellavita on June 11, 2013

Here are the answers (and page citations) to the quiz I posted last week.  See the end of this post for instructions on grading yourself.

1. Why was the Report written?

  • The answer is f – All of the above: Required by PPD 8 (page 1); To provide a national perspective on preparedness trends; To inform program priorities; To help allocate resources; To communicate concerns to stakeholders (page 59).

2. How many core capabilities are identified in the National Preparedness Goal?

  • The answer is b – 31 (page 2).

And — for your skimming pleasure — here they are: 1) Planning, 2) Public Information and Warning, 3) Operational Coordination, 4) Forensics and Attribution, 5) Intelligence and Information Sharing, 6) Interdiction and Disruption, 7) Screening, Search, and Detection, 8) Access Control and Identity Verification, 9) Cybersecurity, 10) Physical Protective Measures, 11) Risk Management for Protection Programs and Activities, 12) Supply Chain Integrity and Security, 13) Community Resilience,  14) Long-term Vulnerability Reduction, 15) Risk and Disaster Resilience Assessment, 16) Threats and Hazard Identification, 17) Critical Transportation, 18) Environmental Response/Health and Safety, 19) Fatality Management Services, 20) Infrastructure Systems, 21) Mass Care Services, 22) Mass Search and Rescue Operations, 23) On-scene Security and Protection, 24) Operational Communications, 25) Public and Private Services and Resources, 26) Public Health and Medical Services, 27) Situational Assessment, 28) Economic Recovery, 29) Health and Social Services, 30) Housing, 31) Natural and Cultural Resources. 

3. Number of times the National Preparedness Goal is described specifically in the Report:

  • Answer is d – Zero.

The National Preparedness Goal is referred to in the 2013 Preparedness Report, but unless I missed it, the Goal is not described specifically in the Report.

I’m not even sure the Goal is clearly defined in the September 2011 document that introduced the Goal to the nation (available here). The closest I can get to identifying the Goal is this statement on page 1 of the 2011 document:

We define success as: “A secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.” 

I contrast that statement with the National Preparedness Goal described on page 1 of the 2005 Draft Goal:

The National Preparedness Goal is: To achieve and sustain risk-based target levels of capability to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from major events, and to minimize their impact on lives, property, and the economy, through systematic and prioritized efforts by Federal, State, local and tribal entities, their private and non-governmental partners, and the general public.

4. The majority of state and local respondents in a preparedness survey expect the federal government to be largely responsible for all the below, except for:

  • The answer is f, Planning. (See the chart on page 10 of the 2013 Preparedness Report for details.)

The majority of state and local respondents expect the federal government to be “mostly” or “entirely” responsible for Economic recovery, Fatality management, Cybersecurity, Forensics, and Housing.

5. According to a 2012 survey of state Chief Information Security Officers, what percent were confident in their state’s ability to protect against external cyber threats?

  • The answer is b, 24% (page 25)

6. According to the Preparedness Report, what is the percentage of Americans who have “physical, sensory, intellectual, or cognitive disabilities”? 

  • Answer is a, 18%

Page 6 reports “Inclusive preparedness planning for the whole community requires integrating the needs of over 59 million Americans with physical, sensory, intellectual, or cognitive disabilities….”  There are approximately 316,000,000 people in the United States.

7. Which of the following is not among the 4 capabilities states rated as areas where they were the least prepared

  • The answer (again) is c, Planning (page 6).

“… states and territories continue to rate recovery capabilities among their least-prepared areas. Three of the four lowest-rated capabilities— Economic Recovery, Housing, and Natural and Cultural Resources—are in the Recovery mission area, mirroring [State Preparedness Report] results from the previous year. Fewer than half of states and territories identified these three capabilities as a high priority.

8. Which of the following are “newly identified national areas for improvement”? (select all that apply)

  • The answers are b and d (page 59): “Enhancing resilience of infrastructure systems,” and “Maturing the role of public private partnerships.”

9. According to the 2012 state assessment of current capability, which of the 31 capabilities received the highest average capability score?

  • The answer is d, “On scene security and protection” (page 8)

10. Which of the 31 capabilities received the lowest average score in the state assessment?

  • The answer is c, “Cybersecurity” (page 8)

As noted above, in questions 4 and 5, approximately three-fourths of the states are not confident in their ability to protect themselves against external cyber threats, and the majority of states expect the national government to have the primary responsibility for cybersecurity.  I wonder if the national government — whoever they are —  knows that.

11. As of 2012, agencies had to belong to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact if they wanted to receive a DHS preparedness grant

  • The answer is True (page 10)

“In FY 2012, DHS preparedness grants required grantees to belong to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact and to ensure that grant-funded capabilities are deployable outside of their community to support regional and national efforts.”

12. Applicants for Hospital Preparedness Program grants and Public Health Emergency Preparedness grants have to submit four separate grant applications to four different agencies before they are eligible to receive one of the grants.

  • The answer is False (page 11).

“In 2011 and 2012, the HHS ASPR and CDC led a collaborative initiative to define essential public health and healthcare preparedness capabilities and operationalize the public health and medical components of the core capabilities included in the Goal. Using these tailored capabilities, HPP and PHEP applicants were able to submit a single application for both cooperative agreements for the first time in May 2012.”

13. FEMA’s 2012 household preparedness survey found more people who believe that a natural disaster was likely to occur in their community. This awareness triggered a “substantial increase” in individual preparedness behaviors, such as building a disaster supply kit and making a household emergency plan.

  • The answer is b, The first statement is true; the second one is false. (page 31)

“In FEMA’s FY 2012 national survey, nearly half of respondents reported familiarity with local hazards and about half expected to experience a natural hazard, continuing a previous upward trend. However, the survey also showed no substantial change in the percentage of respondents reporting that they had made a household emergency plan (43 percent) or built a preparedness kit (52 percent).”

14. In 2012, federal agencies had to include climate change adaption plans in their sustainability plans.

  • The answer is True (page 13).

“In 2012, for the first time, Federal agencies included climate change adaptation plans in their sustainability plans for reducing greenhouse gas pollution, eliminating waste, and improving energy and water performance. These climate change plans outline initiatives to reduce the vulnerability of Federal programs, assets, and investments to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and extreme weather.”

15. Which of the following acronyms is not related to the public information and warning capability (select all that apply)

  • The answer is d,  BARDA – Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (page 63).

Here’s what the others mean: IPAWS (Integrated Public Alert and Warning System), WEA (Wireless Emergency Alerts), EAS (Emergency Alert System), FCC (Federal Communications Commission)

16. Which of the following acronyms do not appear in the 2013 Preparedness Report (you may select more than one)

  • The answer is d,  LGBTQQIA – Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Questioning Intersex Ally

Here’s what the others mean: PHEMCE (Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise), RRAP (Regional Resiliency Assessment Program), SLTTGCC (State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Government Coordinating Council), EPCRA  (Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act), SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surges from Hurricanes)

17. Which country was not involved (according to the Preparedness Report) with helping the US improve “operational coordination in law enforcement, cargo screening, and passenger screening”.

  • The answer is b, Mexico.

The other “operational coordination” countries are identified on pages 15 and 16 of the Report.  I wonder why Mexico was not mentioned.

18. Average time DHS said it took to conduct searches of biometric watch list data from US ports of entry and US consulates.

  • The answer is d, Less than a minute (page 17).

“The Federal Government is improving the ability of authorized users to access this data quickly. For example, DHS reported that the average time to conduct searches of biometric watch-list data from U.S. ports of entry and U.S. consulates was less than one minute.”  Given last week’s data collection and mining news, this National Preparedness Report finding approaches irony.

19. According to the Preparedness Report, the approximate number of terabytes of data processed by regional computer forensics laboratories in 2011 was:

  • The answer is c, 4000 terabytes (page 18)

“Computer Forensics Laboratories increased from 5,616 to 6,318; the number of terabytes processed nearly doubled from 2,334 to 4,263; and the number of digital forensics examinations rose from 6,016 to 7,629 (see Figure 7). Additionally, these resources have played key roles in recent counterterrorism investigations. For example, in 2011, the Kentucky Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory supported the investigation of two Iraqi nationals conspiring to purchase weapons and ship them to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.”  And yes, yottabyte is a real word, “a unit of information equal to 1000 zettabytes.”

20. DHS established a maturity model that identifies the four stages through which the national fusion center network will progress “as it moves toward full capability and operational integration as a unified system.” As of February 2013, the national network was at what stage of the maturity model:

  • The answer is b, Stage 2 – Emerging (page 19). “As of February 2013, the national network is in the second stage of the maturity model, with ongoing efforts to build and achieve full capacity.”

I wonder who decided to create a “national fusion center network”.  The idea of a system like that — combined with last week’s data monitoring news — recalls Erik Dahl’s observation two years ago (in an article titled “Domestic Intelligence Today: More Security but Less Liberty?”): 

“…even though we as a nation decided not to establish a domestic intelligence organization, we have in recent years done just that: we have created a vast domestic intelligence establishment, one which few Americans understand and which does not receive the oversight and scrutiny it deserves. There is good news here: this domestic intelligence system appears to have been successful in increasing security within the US, as demonstrated by numerous foiled terrorist plots and the lack of another major successful attack on American soil since 9/11. But there is also bad news: these gains are coming at the cost of increasing domestic surveillance and at the risk of civil liberties.”

21. As of 2011, approximately what percentage of the 1500 requests for financial transaction data from the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network [FinCEN] was “directly related to terrorism”?  

  • The answer is b, 25% (page 21).

“FinCEN also provides a mechanism for law enforcement agencies to communicate with financial institutions during investigations through the Secure Information Sharing System. As of 2011, law enforcement agencies and other FinCEN customers issued over 1,500 total requests for information on financial transactions, with 378 of these requests directly related to terrorism.

22. The State, Local, Tribal and Territorial Government Coordinating Council studied critical infrastructure programs in 31 states.  Approximately what percentage of the programs were able to measure the effectiveness of their critical infrastructure protection activities?

  • The answer is a, Zero (page 28).

“As part of its two-year reporting effort, the SLTTGCC conducted interviews with critical infrastructure protection officials in 31 states, and found different approaches in how states were implementing the NIPP’s six-step risk management process…. The SLTTGCC also found that none of the critical infrastructure protection programs it studied could measure the effectiveness of their activities. The group cited the uncertainty of future grant funding and the inherent complexities in assessing the effectiveness of risk mitigation efforts as potential reasons.”

23. Approximately how many Citizen Corps Councils are in the US?

  • The answer is c, 1200 (page 32)

“Councils now serve 63 percent of the U.S. population, an increase from 58 percent in September 2011.”

24. The most common natural disaster in the US is:

  • The answer is c, floods (page 32).

“Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States and cause an average of $7.8 billion in damages and an average of 94 deaths each year.”

25. The method most frequently used by states and local jurisdictions to enforce mandatory evacuation orders is:

  • The answer is d, Mandatory evacuation orders are rarely enforced (page 36).

“The authority to order mandatory evacuations lies with different levels of government across the Nation, as outlined in Figure 13 [in the Report]. Figure 14 illustrates that states levy a variety of penalties to enforce evacuation orders.15 However, few states enforce these penalties in practice.”

26. Which of the following is not a part of the DoD CBRN response enterprise?

  • The answer is e, They are all a part of the DoD CBRN response enterprise (page 37).

“The DOD CBRN Response Enterprise includes the Defense CBRN Response Force (DCRF); two Command and Control CBRN Response Elements (C2CRE); 57 National Guard Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Civil Support Teams; 17 National Guard CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Packages (CERFPs); and 10 newly established Homeland Response Forces (HRFs). Together, these units provide approximately 18,000 personnel capable of supporting and conducting operations in CBRN environments.”

27. According to the Preparedness Report, most counties in the United States have established capabilities to provide response-level interoperable communications within one hour of an incident.

  • The answer, according to the Report, is True (page 43).

“The National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) establishes the Nation’s strategic approach to improve interoperability. As a result of NECP implementation, by 2011, 90 percent of more than 2,800 counties and county-level equivalents demonstrated response-level emergency communications (i.e., managing resources and making timely decisions without technical or procedural issues impeding communications) within one hour for routine events involving multiple jurisdictions and agencies.”  I thought this was one of the more surprising findings.

28. The federal highway administration estimate of the percentage of the nation’s bridges that are either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete is:

  • The answer is c, 25% (page 53).

“Based on current investment trends, the ASCE [American Society of Civil Engineers] estimated a $1.1 trillion funding gap by 2020 for the Nation’s water and wastewater treatment; surface transportation [including bridges]; airports; inland waterways and marine ports; and electricity infrastructures.”

29. According to the Preparedness Report, “Interstate mutual aid plays a limited role in augmenting the capabilities of states and territories.”

  • The answer (according to the Report) is True (page 59).

“States and territories continue to report the highest capability levels in those areas frequently cited as high priority. Interstate mutual aid plays a limited role in augmenting the capabilities of states and territories.”  I’m not sure I understand what this finding means. I think it mean states are not incorporating Emergency Management Assistance Compact agreements into their capability plans.

30. “Each year, the Nation makes additional advances toward realizing the National Preparedness Goal and implementing the National Preparedness System through improved guidance and new partnerships involving all levels of government; private and nonprofit sectors; faith-based organizations; communities; and individuals.”

  • This assertion appears in the Conclusions section of the report (page 59). The 2013 National Preparedness Report is offered in support of that assertion.

Here’s how to score yourself:

–       Fewer than 10 correct: Read the report

–       10 to 15 correct: Read the report again

–       16 to 20 correct: You know more about the preparedness report than most people

–       21 to 25 correct: You know a whole lot about the preparedness report

–       26 to 29 correct: You know a disturbing amount of information about the preparedness report

–       30 correct: I’m guessing you wrote the preparedness report





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Comment by William R. Cumming

June 11, 2013 @ 7:12 am

First Chris thanks for the excellent breakdown of questions and answers. This is very very helpful analysis and although I flunked the test because of a different framework hope many use the post to examine preparedness.

My first question is a simple one with complex answers. How does the team verifying the report verify their findings and conclusions? What we do know is that in surveying for the report 63% of the STATES concluded for one reason or another, on one item or another that they have done {completed?] all they can and can do no more, will do no more, and will rely on the federal government to do more for them.

Second, at one time there was in fact an organization called the FEDERAL PREPAREDNESS AGENCY housed in the GSA [General Services Administration-an independent Executive
Branch agency reporting directly to the President. FPA became on of several predecessor agencies to FEMA.

Why mention FPA? In 1976 FPA issued FPC Circular 6! This document had of course largely to act as guidance to the federal department and agencies. But it did have a different perspective in analysis of preparedness. It requrired each department and agency of the Executive Branch to identify if it was a resource provider or a clainmant organization across a spectrum of emergencies for which national level attention and focus was required. That document and focus remained in place until NSDD-47 mentioned in a previous comment and the issuance of Executive Order 12656 in November 1988 that replaced Executive Order 11490 from 1969.

And since we are discussing NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS it is interesting to not any reference to the still rxtant EO 12656 revised that also mandates certain preparedness capability.

Never the twain shall meet?

Comment by Quin

June 11, 2013 @ 9:53 am


It is interesting that EO 12656 is nearly forgotten within the Federal government and its preparedness responsibilities. My thesis suggests its responsibilities should be linked to the ESFLG in order to get the right level of representation at the table. It could be a very important order and effective tool to manage Federal preparedness. No reason to reinvent the wheel when there is something that already fits.

A few points of clarification:

The National Preparedness Goal is defined at 6 USC 743 and was created as part of the PKEMRA.

§ 743. National preparedness goal
(a) Establishment. The President, acting through the Administrator, shall complete, revise, and update, as necessary, a national preparedness goal that defines the target level of preparedness to ensure the Nation’s ability to prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.
(b) National Incident Management System and National Response Plan. The national preparedness goal, to the greatest extent practicable, shall be consistent with the National Incident Management System and the National Response Plan.

I’ve never understood the reluctance in these documents to just stick with the statutory definitions for these terms. It’s not like they are the law or anything, plus when competing definitions are out there, they confuse everyone (I challenge anyone to definitively state what a “Level I” disaster is for instance). I can only think of two reasons, the first is a political or Executive Branch-Legislative Branch power struggle reason to refrain from mentioning the law where there is some fear that to cite the law will cede power to the Congress. Strange since the whole system is (allegedly) based on the primary roles of States (until, of course, they don’t want to pay for something).

The second possibility is a matter of competence, the drafters just don’t know. They do mention the National Preparedness System (which the Goal supports and can be found beginning at 6 USC 741), but I’m betting the drafters were referring to the “system” as created under PPD-8, not realizing (or acknowledging) Congress has already created and defined it. It’s just strange that over and over in these related documents everything seems to end with PPD-8 when in fact it fits perfectly under the system created by Congress in the PKEMRA.

I found the reliance on the Federal government for fatality management to be an area of great disconnect. The Federal government’s fatality management resources(as in ready to go now, identified in planning) are anemic. The numbers they can process are really, really small when you think what might happen in a catastrophe. Yet everyone seems to think the State’s will handle it. I can’t recall how many times people refer to “nothing can be done unless the local medical examiner or coroner approves”. Lets hope (for many, many reasons) we never need to do this, because the Federal planning is less than adequate (to be nice).

As for the failure of State and local governments to measure the effectiveness of critical infrastructure protection programs, my educated guess is its about the money. No one wants to know the cost. One reason is I think the goals of the public, elected representatives and private industry aren’t necessarily aligned. You could see it clearly in Sandy where the public and elected representatives (responding to the public since that’s what they are supposed to do) wanted critical infrastructure up and running NOW!, or in 72 hours, while the private (or publically owned) CI companies aren’t about to spend the money to build in the resilience to meet that criteria, certainly not for a major urban area.

Locally, when one of the major power companies broached the idea of burying power lines underground and gave the amount of money that would be added to power bills, the proposal quickly slunk away.

Recently, it may have reappeared with more realistic numbers: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-05-15/local/39279654_1_task-force-power-line-proposal-city

I know at least Florida requires as least some gas stations to have back up generators, for example, but I have yet see anything approaching a comprehensive study on the subject. Given that the lesson of Sandy was that the most important factors in a response to catastrophe in a major urban area is restoration of energy (mainly power and gasoline), you would think this would be ripe for study. Along those lines, I would say Hurricane Sandy is the Hurricane Pam for a catastrophe in a major urban area. The lessons are there, but I don’t know if anyone is seriously ready to do what is necessary. I just wouldn’t want to be the President when it does and finds either an empty holster, or more aptly, all his bullets are still in storage.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 11, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

Quin! As always your comments ring true to me and I largely agree with them.

The word “mobilization” was added at the last minute to EO 12656 but should not be considered a mobilization order. And certainly does not meet the NSDD-47 mandates.

IMO the tank is empty if you consider a large-scale catastrophic event.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2013 @ 7:49 am

Apparently the 2013 National Preparedness Report is inconsistent with other DHS/FEMA reports that are related. One example the Project Responder3 Report issued late in 2012.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2013 @ 8:50 am

The Project Responder3 report may be found at:


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