Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long thanks first responders in Naples, Fla., as they provide assistance to Hurricane Irma survivors on Sept. 14, 2017. (DHS photo by Jetta Disco)

FEMA Strategic Plan Centers on Community Resiliency, Catastrophe Prep, Less Red Tape

The Federal Emergency Management Agency needs to focus on helping society build a culture of emergency preparedness, working with partners to get the nation ready to handle catastrophic disasters, and streamline FEMA complexities and red tape over the next few years, according to the agency’s new strategic plan.

“The most important lesson from the challenging disasters of 2017 is that success is best delivered through a system that is federally supported, state managed, and locally executed,” FEMA Administrator Brock Long says in the plan’s foreword. “This plan seeks to unify and further professionalize emergency management across the nation and we invite the whole community to join us in embracing these priorities. We must all work as one through this strategy to help people before, during, and after disasters to achieve our vision of a more prepared and resilient nation.”

Long said that the 2018-22 plan reflects input from a range of staff and stakeholders and “describes a vision that we can all pursue – together – to build a better FEMA and galvanize the emergency management profession.”

The three main goals of the plan, he said, underscore the agency’s responsibility “to help individuals and families understand their personal roles in preparing for disasters and taking action – they are our true first responders.”

Long added, in boldface, that he intends to be “making changes to FEMA to reflect these priorities and I am going to use our resources to drive progress.”

On the first goal of building a culture of preparedness — at the “individual, family, community, state, local, tribal, territorial, and federal levels” — the plan “promotes the idea that everyone should be prepared when disaster strikes.”

“To be prepared, however, we must all understand our local and community risks, reflect the diversity of those we serve, and foster partnerships that allow us to connect with a diverse nation,” it says. “People who are prepared will be able to act quickly and decisively in the face of disasters, thereby preventing death and injuries, minimizing loss of property, and allowing for a more rapid and efficient recovery.”

On the second goal of prepping for “low- and no-notice” catastrophes, the FEMA plan notes the national security threat from “life-altering incidents” that cause “a high number of fatalities and widespread destruction.”

“The nation’s readiness depends on emergency management professionals who execute the mission on behalf of federal and SLTT governments,” the plan states. “This requires a scalable and capable National incident workforce that can adapt and deploy to a changing risk landscape, greater integration with our partners at all levels, and the ability to communicate and coordinate effectively in every situation.”

The third goal centers around ensuring FEMA is “flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of individuals and communities, and it must deliver assistance and support in as simple a manner as possible.”

“A simplified FEMA – one that streamlines survivor and grantee experiences and provides straightforward processes and policies for staff – will decrease administrative burdens, improve the stewardship of federal taxpayer dollars, and allow for a more efficient and effective execution of our mission,” says the plan.

FEMA set up distinct email address to accept feedback on each of the three goals: CultureOfPreparedness@fema.dhs.gov, ReadyforCatastrophic@fema.dhs.gov, and ReduceTheComplexity@fema.dhs.gov.

Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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