Last week a second edition of the National Preparedness Goal was released.
The Goal itself has not changed since the 2011 original:
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.
There is also considerable continuity between the original details and the new details. According to a FEMA Information Sheet on “What’s New”:
The refresh of the National Preparedness Goal centered on discrete, critical content updates based on lessons learned, real world events and the results of the National Preparedness Report. In working towards development of the second edition of the Goal, FEMA and its whole community partners focused on assessing the existing core capabilities. Resulting updates to the core capabilities include changes to select titles and definitions and the addition of one new core capability – Fire Management and Suppression.
The National Preparedness Goal is part of the policy/strategy apparatus emerging from Presidential Policy Directive 8 released in late March 2011. In the PPD the President directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to coordinate federal — even “all-of-nation” — implementation. For richer or poorer, the Goal is widely perceived as FEMA-centric. (As noted below, I don’t think this is healthy or necessary.)
Thursday I intend to give particular attention to one change from the 2011 edition that I consider a potentially important positive.
But first a comment on the context and limitations of this sort of document: In my experience the homeland security professions — federal, state, or local — tend to receive the vast majority of “national” policy and strategy statements with skepticism at best and more often with disdain.
The story is told of a First Responder delegation meeting with a President’s Homeland Security Adviser. After an hour-long discussion of policy, strategy, operations and tactics, the Senior Official encouraged one of those who had not contributed to share his thoughts. The Big City professional responded, “With all due respect sir, just tell us what we have to say to get the money.”
The defense, foreign policy, and intelligence communities are also interested in money. But they self-consciously engage in making and critiquing policy/strategy in order to shape their budget and spending context. This can sometimes be cynical. In some cases, even corrupt. But by-and-large the nexus of policy, strategy, and money is a crucial arena for thinking through and refining where resources will be spent and why.
It is an entirely fallible process, but in the traditional national security space the active participation of a wide array of professional, academic, political, commercial and other interests can generate substantive benefits across the strategy-to-tactics continuum.
President Obama has been very clear from the beginning, “I believe that Homeland Security is indistinguishable from National Security — conceptually and functionally, they should be thought of together rather than separately.” As some readers may recall, I disagreed with the President on this matter. But in any case, for this policy formulation to be effective, the homeland security professions are required to engage the policy-strategy-budget process with a skill and resolve equal to national security veterans.
This “refresh” of the National Preparedness Goal offers another opportunity to do so.