Funding the first 72 hours

Failure to prepare for those crucial 72 hours can result (and has resulted) in unnecessary loss of life and property and wasted resources by government agencies involved in the response. In their testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Herman Leonard and Arnold Howitt, both of Harvard University, described the woeful response to Hurricane Katrina as “a story of failures of systems and failures to construct systems in advance that would have permitted and helped to produce better performance and outcomes.”
There’s an old Chinese proverb that cautions you to prepare your silken coat before it rains, and not wait until you are thirsty to dig a well. The same principle holds true for building community-wide response capability for the first 72 hours following a disaster—preliminary preparation is essential for rapid, effective response. During their testimony, Leonard and Howitt also outlined four critical elements that require development prior to an incident in order to ensure higher performance in the moments and hours that follow: capabilities; structures and systems for direction and coordination; people with the requisite training and experience; and coordination of the technical work and the political work.
Clearly, all of these elements cannot be fixed with funding alone. Federal and state governments have poured billions of dollars into domestic preparedness over the past five years, and as the Katrina response demonstrates, the return doesn’t always match the investment. Successful response requires the implementation of many other plans, assessments, and training, international coordination, public affairs and logistics  coordination and science and technology. Funding can facilitate these, but it cannot replace them. 
That said, we will examine the funding sources that are available and the elements of preparedness, under Leonard and Howitt’s categories, they support. Some of the funding comes from some unexpected places outside the normal purview of police and fire.
For better or worse, the vast majority of homeland security funding distributed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) since 2002 has been used for expanded capabilities. One need look no further than one’s state administrative agency to discover that the funds have been used to purchase equipment and technology based largely on perceived needs and not subject to a great deal of coordination, oversight or transparency by overwhelmed public officials attempting to meet aggressive congressional time frames for passing the funding through to local recipients. Capabilities have been the darling of funding-related purchases, because they enable officials to show the public a piece of hardware they are going to deploy to keep the public safer and to improve deterrence and emergency response.
In 2006, DHS radically changed the way in which the State Homeland Security Grants were distributed. DHS required quasi-competitive applications, termed “investment justifications,” based on coordinated local, regional, state and national plans. The new approach also encouraged increased coordination of available DHS and non-DHS funding. Most states continued to include capabilities-oriented projects in their State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP) applications, which encompassed five programs: State Homeland Security Program, Urban Areas Security Initiative, Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Partnership, Metropolitan Medical Response System and Citizen Corps Program. Capabilities have also been funded heavily by the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) and the Port Security Grant Program.
Structures and systems
Structures and systems are the roadmaps to preparedness. On the national level, DHS has worked with some of the finest minds in the country to develop the National Preparedness Goal, the Interim National Infrastructure Preparedness Plan, and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). However, the penetration of the plan to the mind of the local first responder has been slow going, because plans at the state, regional and local level have failed to bring home critical insights and strategies for those on the front lines who have to turn these plans into action.
Planning is funded under the SHSGP, AFGP and Port Security Grants, and it is also supported by the pass-through Emergency Management Performance Grants and the Pre-disaster Mitigation Program.
A number of effective, community-oriented plans have been developed through the Education Department’s Emergency Response and Crisis Management Plans Grants (ERCMP). The ERCMP program provides funds to local educational agencies that are working in collaboration with at least five other emergency management services providers to develop and implement community-wide plans for all-hazards response. These funds—from $100,000 to $500,000, depending on the size of the school district—dovetail well with the DHS-funded programs, to the point of providing for extended NIMS training for school personnel and others.
Also, water and Agriculture Security Planning programs are administered by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture, respectively.
Outreach to police and fire is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach to training. Community members involved in preparedness, deterrence, and response, other service providers, such as mental health counselors, and the general public need to participate in training and simulation until all members of the community understand their roles in emergency response and are committed to fulfilling these roles when called upon to act.
Just as first responders cannot attain the necessary depth of understanding of the functional requirements of response through a single training session, regular, accessible training must be available to focus and inform all the members of the community on their respective roles and to energize them.
Funding specifically set aside for first responder training in the 2006 Homeland Security Appropriation will go to a few pre-selected institutions (Louisiana State University, Texas A&M University, New Mexico Technical University, International Association of Fire Fighters, Michigan State University, National Sheriff’s Association, St. Petersburg College, Western Oregon University, Eastern Kentucky University and George Washington University) to design, develop and deliver training programs that support the national priorities identified in the Interim National Preparedness Goal and align to target capabilities and their related tasks. That should take care of orientation to the national standards for response.
To prepare local people to fulfill their specific roles in the local preparedness plan and provide adequate response during “the initial 72-hour period of self-sufficiency,” local governments have sought to build training systems that provide continuous access to localized response plans and procedures. Building on the training infrastructure that already exists in K-12 and higher education systems (as well as other learning resources like public television stations), community leaders can leverage funding from the departments of Commerce, Agriculture, Transportation and Education (DoEd).
In addition to the ERCMP program, DoEd provides funding for the enhancement of training on-demand networks through the Enhancing Education through Technology and the E-rate program (note that the E-rate program is technically administered by a separate organization). The Department of Commerce administers the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program for Public Television and Radio systems, and the Department of Agriculture funds educational infrastructure through its Distance Learning and Telemedicine, Community Connects and Community Facilities programs.
Many communities have taken advantage of the Hazardous Materials Training program from the Department of Transportation (DoT), which provides funds specifically for HAZMAT response. Again, the key to using this funding as a building block toward community-wide readiness is to use the DoT-funded HAZMAT training in the broader context of enhancing the community response capability—as one piece of a larger puzzle. 
Funding community-oriented training is also a priority for many local foundations, from which police and fire departments may not be accustomed to receiving grants. In some cases, the funds may have to be coordinated by a community-based organization, but it nevertheless will help advance adoption of the local response plan.
Coordination of the technical and political resources needed for emergency response is a major focus of NIMS, but those who have never been oriented to NIMS, such as school officials and private business leaders, may be confused as to which leader to follow in the event of a methamphetamine lab explosion or a bomb detonation or a hurricane warning. Of course, the time to tell them whom to follow is not in the moments and hours following a disaster, but in the days and years beforehand.
Again, local foundations tend to be highly responsive to these types of local needs and projects. You may also seek support to build capacity for coordination from the elected officials themselves. Congressional earmarks can provide support for political and technical coordination toward all-hazards readiness, whether you are seeking funds for asset coordination capability or ready emergency purchasing power from across the state.
Smaller programs, such as the Buffer Zone Protection and Transit Security programs of DHS, certainly have their place in local plans, as well, but the pursuit and coordination of all available funds from all available sources to move the entire community toward readiness is essential to maximizing the safety and security of local citizens before outside help arrives. HST

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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