JOE M. ALLBAUGH
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
UNITED STATES SENATE
MARCH 12, 2002
Good afternoon Chairman Jeffords, Ranking Member Smith and members of the Committee. I am Joe Allbaugh, Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Thank you for the opportunity to brief you today on FEMA’s First Responder Initiative. I am honored to appear before a committee that has provided so much leadership in the areas of mitigation and disaster response and recovery.
FEMA is the Federal Agency responsible for coordinating our nation’s efforts to mitigate against, prepare for, respond to and recover from all hazards. Our success depends on our ability to organize and lead a community of local, State, and Federal agencies, volunteer organizations, private sector entities and the first responder community. We know whom to bring to the table when a disaster strikes in order to ensure the most effective management of the response and recovery effort. We provide management expertise and financial resources to help State and local governments when they are overwhelmed by disasters.
The Federal Response Plan (FRP) forms the heart of our management framework and lays out the process by which interagency groups work together to respond as a cohesive team to all types of disasters. This team is made up of 26 Federal departments and agencies, and the American Red Cross, and is organized into 12 emergency support functions based on the authorities and expertise of the members and the needs of our counterparts at the State and local level.
Since 1992, in all manner of horrific natural disasters like the Northridge Earthquake and Hurricane Floyd and also in response to the Oklahoma City bombing and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FRP has proven to be an effective and efficient framework for managing all phases of disasters and emergencies. The FRP is successful because it builds upon existing professional disciplines, expertise, delivery systems, and relationships among the participating agencies. FEMA has strong ties to emergency management organizations - fire service, law enforcement and emergency medical communities - and we routinely plan, train, exercise, and operate together to remain prepared to respond and recover from all hazards.
We learn from every disaster experience and incorporate these lessons wherever possible into our planning and processes to improve the next disaster response. For example, an assessment of the Oklahoma City bombing led to the creation of the FEMA Urban Search & Rescue teams as well as the processes for monitoring the long-term health of 1st responders. The World Trade Center and Pentagon disaster responses are no different. We have learned from both. We recognize that better personal protective equipment is needed for our first responders. More training and exercises, better communications and improved interoperability of the equipment, and enhanced medical response capabilities and mutual aid agreements are also needed. I am committed to ensuring that those needs are met.
Meeting The Challenge Ahead – Office of National Preparedness
Following the September 11 attacks, the President appointed Governor Ridge to head the newly established Office of Homeland Security (OHS) with the charge to “develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks.” In carrying out this activity, the OHS was tasked to “coordinate the executive branch's efforts to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States.” Since that time, FEMA has been working closely with Governor Ridge and the OHS, and other agencies to identify and develop the most effective ways to quickly build and enhance the overall domestic capability to respond to terrorist attacks. In consultation with OHS, FEMA will provide critical support for homeland security initiatives, particularly in the area of local and State capability building. FEMA will also have a significant role supporting the development of the national strategy, participating in interagency forums and working groups, including the Homeland Security Council and Policy Coordinating Committees, and contributing to the interagency budget strategy and formulation process.
The Office of National Preparedness’ (ONP) mission is to provide leadership in the coordination and facilitation of all Federal efforts to assist State and local first responders (including fire, medical and law enforcement) and emergency management organizations with planning, training, equipment and exercises necessary to build and sustain capability to respond to any emergency or disaster, including a terrorist incident involving a weapon of mass destruction and other natural or manmade hazards.
FEMA has made the following changes to support this expanded mission to support the Office of Homeland Security:
· Moved the authority for credentialing, training and deploying Urban Search and Rescue teams from the Readiness, Response and Recovery Directorate to the U.S. Fire Administration.
The ONP is organized in FEMA Headquarters under a Director (reporting directly to the FEMA Director) and supported by a Management Services Unit and four Divisions to carry out key its functions to coordinate and implement Federal programs and activities aimed at building and sustaining the national preparedness capability. The divisions and their functional responsibilities include the following:
· Administration Division – Provide financial and support services, and management of the grant assistance activities for local and State capability building efforts.
· Program Coordination Division – Ensure development of a coordinated national capability involving Federal, State, and local governments, to include citizen participation in the overall efforts to effectively deal with the consequences of terrorist acts and other incidents within the United States.
· Technological Services Division – Improve the capabilities of communities to manage technological hazard emergencies- whether accidental or intentional-and leverage this capability to enhance the capability for dealing with terrorist attacks.
· Assessment and Exercise Division – Provide guidance, exercises, and assessments and evaluate progress in meeting National goals for development of a domestic consequence management capability.
We continue to work with all 55 states and territories and Federally recognized Indian Tribes and Alaskan Native Villages to implement our current and other grant programs to assist State, Tribal and local government to enhance their capabilities to respond to all types of hazards and emergencies including chemical incidents, incidents involving radiological substances and natural disasters.
In his FY’03 Budget proposal, the President has requested that FEMA receive $3.5 billion to administer a major component of the Homeland Security efforts - the First Responder Initiative. Grants based on this initiative will give the first responder community – firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel - critically needed funds to purchase equipment, train their personnel and prepare for a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)/terrorist incident. The Office of National Preparedness (ONP) within FEMA will be responsible for administering these First Responder grants.
Some of the goals established by ONP for the First Responder Initiative are as follows:
· Provide States and localities with the proper balance of guidance and flexibility so that the funds are used in the local areas where they are needed most;
· Establish a consolidated, simple, and quick method for disbursing Federal assistance to States and localities;
· Foster mutual aid across the nation so that the entire local, State, Federal and volunteer network can operate together seamlessly;
· Create an evaluation process to make sure that all programs are producing results and to direct the allocation of future resources, and;
· Involve all Americans in programs to make their homes, communities, States and nation safer and stronger.
In achieving these objectives, FEMA will implement a procedure designed to speed the flow of resources to the States and localities. Federal funds will then be used to support State and local governments in four key areas:
· Planning. Providing support to State and local governments in developing comprehensive plans to prepare for and respond to a terrorist incident.
· Equipment. Allowing State and local agencies to purchase a wide range of equipment needed to respond effectively to a terrorist attack, including better, more interoperable communications equipment.
· Training. Provide training to first responders to respond to terrorist incidents and operate in contaminated environments.
· Exercises. Develop a coordinated, regular exercise program to improve response capabilities, practice mutual aid, and assess operational improvements and deficiencies.
The First Responder Initiative builds upon existing capabilities at the Federal, State, and local level by providing needed resources to improve our response capabilities and strengthen our preparedness as a nation.
The Role of the U.S. Fire Administration
Our nation’s firefighters will continue to bear an increasing portion of the burden for Homeland Defense, responding to a variety of emergent issues including terrorism. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) will provide the Office of National Preparedness with essential support through its unique focus on training programs within the Federal Government. These programs are included in the Agency’s mission-related preparedness and mitigation strategies.
In addition, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program remains an important element in supporting the most pressing needs of at-risk communities and fire service providers in reducing the loss of life and property from fire, including loss of life and injury to firefighters. As a result of the last year’s appropriations, this Grant Program received $150 million that must be obligated by September 30th of the current fiscal year. An additional $210 million was received in the Emergency Supplemental that is expendable until September 30th, 2003. We expect most of the supplemental appropriation will be obligated in FY 2002 with almost all of the remainder obligated in the first quarter of FY 2003. FEMA is happy to report that our on-line application system is up and running as of this month.
I would like to again thank the Subcommittee for all of the support they have given to the fire community over the last few years.
The President’s budget request also seeks to consolidate our nation’s preparedness efforts under one Federal agency; the President has requested that the Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) be transferred from the Department of Justice to FEMA. With this proposal the President has shown true leadership in his willingness to address a long-standing problem – the need for central coordination among the myriad of Federal programs dealing with terrorism preparedness.
Some forty Federal Departments and Agencies have been involved in the overall effort to build the national capability for preparedness and response to the consequences of terrorist incidents. Many of these activities have been primarily focused on the development or enhancement of Federal capabilities to deal with terrorist incidents, including plans, personnel and physical security upgrades, and specialized resources such as protection and detection technology and response teams. Other Federal programs and activities are focused on building the local and State first responder and emergency management capabilities, to include the provision of resources and funding to support planning, training, exercises and equipment acquisition.
Various independent studies and commissions have recognized the problems inherent in this uncoordinated approach. Several recommendations by the Gilmore Commission, for example, stress the importance of giving states and first responders a single point of contact for Federal assistance for training, exercises and equipment. In its second report issued in December 2000, the commission found that the “organization of the Federal government’s programs for combating terrorism is fragmented, uncoordinated, and politically unaccountable.”
The Commission’s third report issued seven key recommendations regarding state and local response capabilities. These seven recommendations included:
· Consolidating Federal grant program information and application procedures;
· Designing and scheduling Federal preparedness programs to include first responder participation; and
· Establishing an information clearinghouse in OHS on Federal programs, assets, and agencies.
These findings and recommendations have been echoed in numerous other Commissions and reports, by the first responder community, and by state and local governments. In recent testimony before the Congress, Chief Ray Alfred spoke on behalf of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He stated: “Some of my colleagues in the fires service have … spoken of their concerns as to the lack of a coordinated Federal effort, both in terms of the preparedness and support programs … and the seemingly endless Federal response capabilities that appear duplicative and continue to grow.”
In the post-9/11 environment, we can ill afford to wage turf battles that in effect protect the inefficiencies of the status quo. We must instead focus on the merits of a proposal that seeks to address duplication, shore up gaps, eliminate confusion and reduce complication. As the attacks of September 11th have drawn much comparison to the attacks of December 7th, 1941, there is a forward to a book about Pearl Harbor that has been brought to my attention that speaks of the worst-case scenario in a government’s preparation and response:
“Surprise, when it happens to a government, is likely to be a complicated, diffuse, bureaucratic thing. It includes neglect of responsibility but also responsibility so poorly defined or so ambiguously delegated that action gets lost…
“…It includes the contingencies that occur to no one, but also those that everyone assumes somebody else is taking care of. It includes straightforward procrastination, but also decisions protracted by internal disagreement. It includes, in addition, the inability of individual human beings to rise to the occasion until they are sure it is the occasion – which is usually too late,” (Thomas Schelling, forward to Roberta Wohlstetter’s Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision).
The Office of National Preparedness looks forward to building on the grant-making experience accumulated by ODP. The centralization of terrorism preparedness efforts will enable ONP to enhance the core ODP activities such as exercise development, training, and equipment acquisition to better address the needs of homeland defense.
In order to help Americans strengthen their communities, President Bush tasked FEMA with overseeing Citizen Corps. This initiative is part of the overall effort of Freedom Corps, whose mission is to assist individuals and communities with implementing Homeland Security Programs in their areas. Since September 11, 2001, Americans are more aware than ever of the threat of terrorist acts on home soil. In the days following the attacks we saw immediate and selfless volunteering, generous monetary gifts, blood donations, and an outpouring of support and patriotism across America. Sustaining that spirit of volunteerism and unity is crucial to defending the homeland.
Citizen Corp’s broad network of volunteer efforts will harness the power of the American people by relying on their individual skills and interests to prepare local communities to effectively prevent and respond to the threats of terrorism, crime, or any kind of disaster.
Citizen Corps will build upon existing crime prevention, natural disaster preparedness, and public health response networks. Citizen Corps will initially consist of participants in the following five programs: the Volunteers in Police Service Program; an expanded Neighborhood Watch Program; the Medical Reserve Corps; Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), and the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS). FEMA has the responsibility for approving additional programs to be affiliated with Citizen Corps in the future.
Finally, Citizen Corps will bring together local government, law enforcement, educational institutions, the private sector, faith-based groups and volunteers into a cohesive community resource. The Federal role is to provide general information, to develop training standards and materials, and to identify volunteer programs and initiatives that support the goals of the Citizen Corps.
In addition to the President’s plan to provide greater assistance to First Responders, FEMA and ONP are currently implementing a number of other homeland security initiatives. We are working, for example, to foster intergovernmental mutual aid arrangements so that the entire local, State, Tribal, Federal and volunteer network can operate seamlessly together. ONP is in the process of establishing a national strategic exercise program that will ensure our first responders are as well trained and prepared as possible. It is also preparing a Report to Congress on Terrorism and Emergency Preparedness and Training that will include a complete accounting of these and all other Federal emergency and terrorism preparedness training programs and activities. In addition, we are continuing to use the Capability Assessment for Readiness (CAR) report as a means to locate gaps in preparedness, as well as unmet training needs.
All of these activities will strengthen the nation’s capability to respond to a terrorist incident.
Operationally, FEMA is well prepared and equipped to respond to an act of terrorism. Following a manmade or natural disaster FEMA will ensure that the Federal government and its partners provide needed support to disaster victims, first responders, and local governments. I look forward to working with each of you on this critical matter, as it will require a commitment from all of us to ensure its continued success.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer any questions you have.