Washington Update

President Creates National Incident Management System

 In order to enhance the ability of the U.S. to manage major domestic incidents, such as natural disasters or acts of terrorism, President Bush recently issued the "Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-5" to establish a single, comprehensive national incident management system. Under this directive, the U.S. government will ensure that all levels of government across the nation have the capability to work effectively together using a national approach to domestic incident management. In these incidents, the federal government is to treat crisis management and consequence management as a single, integrated function, rather than separate tasks.


The Secretary of Homeland Security will oversee domestic incident management when any of the following four conditions applies:

  • a federal department or agency has requested the assistance of the secretary;

  • the resources of state and local authorities are overwhelmed and federal assistance has been requested by the appropriate state and local authorities;

  • more than one federal department or agency has become substantially involved in responding to the incident; or

  • the secretary has been directed to assume responsibility for managing the incident by the president.

  • As before, the initial responsibility for managing domestic incidents falls on state and local authorities. The federal government will provide assistance when state and local resources are overwhelmed or when federal interests are involved. The secretary will ensure adequate planning, equipment, and training exercises for states and provide assistance to develop all-hazards plans and capabilities. These activities will also be undertaken with the private and nongovernmental sectors.

    Under HSPD-5, the Attorney General has lead responsibility for criminal investigations of terrorist acts or threats inside the U.S., or directed at the U.S. abroad. The Attorney General and the secretary of Homeland Security will coordinate activities between their two departments in this regard.

    The secretary for Homeland Security shall also ensure that information related to domestic incidents is gathered and provided to the pubic, the private sector, state and local authorities, federal departments and agencies, and the president. In addition, the secretary shall provide regular reports on the readiness and preparedness of the nation at all levels of government to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestic incidents.


     The secretary is to develop and submit for review to the Homeland Security Council (HSC) (see the Observer, Vol. XXVI, No. 3, p. 7) the National Incident Management System (NIMS). To provide for interoperability and compatibility among federal, state, and local capabilities, NIMS will include a core set of concepts, principles, terminology, and technologies covering the incident command system, multi-agency coordination systems, unified command, training, identification and management of resources, qualifications and certification, and reporting of incident information. A national system of standards, guidelines, and protocols to implement NIMS must be ready by June 1, 2003.

    National Response Plan

    In addition, the secretary shall develop and submit to the HSC an updated National Response Plan (NRP) that integrates federal government domestic prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery plans into one all-hazards plan. The plan will include protocols for operating under different threats or threat levels and will include a consistent approach to reporting incidents, providing assessments, and making recommendations to the president and others. By September 1, 2003, the secretary must present to the president recommendations for fully implementing the NRP.

    Adoption of Requirements

    By August 1, 2003, the head of each federal department and agency shall submit a plan to adopt and implement NIMS, and beginning in fiscal year 2005, federal departments and agencies shall make adoption of the NIMS a requirement for providing federal preparedness assistance through grants, contracts, or other activities.

    The complete text of the presidential directive can be found at any federal repository library or on the White House web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/02/print/20030228-9.html.

    DOL Issues Final Rule on Disaster Unemployment Assistance

    In order reduce confusion regarding eligibility for disaster unemployment assistance in the wake of major disasters declared as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Department of Labor (DOL) re-examined its Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program. A final rule was adopted regarding this evaluation, and it became effective on April 7, 2003.

    Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, any individual who is unemployed as a result of a presidentially declared disaster may receive "such benefit assistance . . . while such individual is unemployed" and for which the individual is not entitled to any other unemployment compensation. The recipient can receive benefits up to 26 weeks after a major disaster is declared; however, victims of September 11 were given extended assistance of up to 39 weeks under Public Law 107-154.

    Under the new rule, the DOL, which administers the DUA, determined that the phrase in the Stafford Act, "unemployment is a direct result of the major disaster," means that an individualís lack of employment must be an immediate result of a disaster and not the result of a longer chain of events precipitated or exacerbated by a major disaster, such as layoffs by companies due to a decline in business in a disaster aftermath. Specifically, in order to receive assistance, individuals must be unemployed as a result of physical damage or destruction of a work site, physical inaccessibility of a work site, or lack of work or loss of revenues because a major supplier or source of revenue was disrupted by a disaster.

     The complete text of the final rule can be found in the Federal Register, Vol. 68, No. 44 (March 6, 2003) on pages 10932 to 10937. The Federal Register is located in any federal repository library and on-line at http://www.access.gpo.gov. For further information about the program and this final rule, contact Betty Castillo, Division of Unemployment Insurance Operations, Office of Workforce Security, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room S-4231, Washington, DC 20210; (202) 693-3209; fax: (202) 693-3229; e-mail: bcastillo@doleta.gov.

    Flood Map Modernization Funded by Congress

    In order to reduce the loss of human life and property damage resulting from flooding, it is important to understand where flooding is most likely to occur. For decades, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), under its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), has mapped these areas in cooperation with local and state governments. However, many maps have not been updated in years, even though development has continued to occur in and around floodplains.

    Congress recently passed Public Law 108-7, the omnibus appropriations bill for federal fiscal year 2003, and provided $150 million for map modernization to improve the nationís flood maps.

    Program goals include:

    • developing up-to-date flood hazard data for all flood-prone areas nationwide to support sound floodplain management and prudent flood insurance decisions;

    • providing the maps and data in digital format to improve the efficiency and precision with which mapping program customers can use this information;

    • fully integrating FEMA's community and state partners into the mapping process to build on local knowledge and efforts;

    • improving processes to make it faster to create and update the maps; and

    • improving customer services to speed processing of flood map orders and raise public awareness of flood hazards.

    The complete text of the legislation can be found at any federal repository library or on the Library of Congress web site: http://Thomas.loc.gov. Detailed information about flood hazard mapping can be obtained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20472; (202) 566-1600; http://www.fema.gov.

    FEMA Announces HAZUS  Vendor Program

    The release of HAZUS-MH in 2003 will be a major milestone in the ongoing development of HAZUS, FEMAís multi-hazard risk assessment tool. The anticipated growth in the number of HAZUS users, coupled with the technical sophistication of this loss estimation tool, will place unprecedented demands on FEMA to provide training and technical support services to a diverse group of users.

    In response to this anticipated increase in HAZUS users as well as the need to provide training and technical support to these users, FEMA recently announced the HAZUS Vendor Program (HVP). The goal of HVP is to establish a program administered through the private sector to provide training and technical assistance to the next generation of HAZUS users. The term "vendor" refers to individuals who will be trained and certified by FEMA to implement the program.

    HAZUS vendors will be certified to provide instruction and technical assistance in earthquake, hurricane, or flood analysis; software implementation and technical support; and multi-hazard mitigation planning. FEMA is seeking vendors who have strong backgrounds in these areas.

    HAZUS vendors will undergo an intensive training program, to be administered by FEMA. Following successful completion of the training, the vendor will be placed on a national HVP registry, indicating their qualifications and availability to provide HAZUS-MH training and technical assistance to interested sponsors, such as regional FEMA offices, state emergency management agencies, and local jurisdictions. The vendors will be compensated through this fee-based training initiative.

    Individuals who are interested in participating in the HAZUS Vendor Program should contact Tom Durham; (703) 535-3005; TSDurham@pbsj.com.

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