EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – January 14, 2004

Going from a 'Federal' to a 'National' Approach
The Interim National Response Plan (INRP)
The National Incident Management System (NIMS)

Charles M. Hess
Deputy Director, Response Division
Emergency Preparedness & Response Secretariat
Department of Homeland Security

Amy Sebring
Moderator, EIIP Technical Projects Coordinator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: On behalf of Avagene Moore and myself, welcome once again to the EIIP Virtual Forum!

Our session today is devoted to a topic of considerable interest in the Emergency Management community, and derived from Homeland Security Presidential Directive #5. Our title is -- Going from a 'Federal' to a 'National' Approach -- The Interim National Response Plan (INRP) and The National Incident Management System (NIMS).

I have the pleasure of introducing today's speaker, Mr. Charles M. Hess, Deputy Response Division Director in the Emergency Preparedness and Response Secretariat, Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Hess is responsible for planning and executing the Federal government's response to natural disasters and the consequence management of all hazards including terrorist events involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). As Deputy to the Response Division Director, Mr. Hess is responsible for directing and overseeing the development and implementation of operational policies and procedures, and deployment of resources for use by DHS and other Federal departments and agencies.

Welcome, Charles!


Charles Hess: Good afternoon. I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk with you all today about the National Response Plan and the National Incident Management System. During the next few minutes, I will provide you with the latest information that I have about the NRP and the NIMS.

I will talk with you about the objectives and principles used in the development of these documents, particularly the guidance provide by Homeland Security Presidential Directive #5 (HSPD-5), the challenges of developing a management system and an operations plan that span the Incident Spectrum and provide a Layered Response Strategy. I will also talk with you about some of the key provisions and concepts of the NRP and the NIMS.

HSPD-5 set forth the mandate for development of the NRP and the NIMS. The key objective for the NRP and the NIMS is to provide a comprehensive, single, national approach to incident management. The term incident management, in this context, is being used broadly to include natural disasters AND terrorist events. The HSPD-5 directive institutionalizes the all-hazards approach that we have used for years in emergency management, and promotes full integration of all phases of incident management - prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.

Another HSPD-5 objective is to ensure a system that allows all levels of government to work efficiently and effectively together; to provide seamless integration of resources and capabilities; to provide a common lexicon and systems for horizontal and vertical integration; and to establish networks and systems for effective communication. HSPD-5 also mandates full integration of the crisis and consequence management components of incident manager and eliminates any barriers between the criminal investigation and the emergency response components.

As you all know, all incidents are local and MOST incidents are resolved at the local or Regional level without intervention or involvement of the Federal government. Or, if there is Federal involvement, it is based on specific authorities or day-to-day functions such as hazardous materials response.

The NIMS, which is now out for review and comment, provides a common operational framework for all levels of government. The NIMS is based on the National Interagency Incident Management System and the Incident Command System.

Once the NIMS is finalized and fully adopted by States and Federal departments and agencies, it will provide the common operational concepts and basic organizational structure needed to ensure seamless transitions and integration of resources. This compatibility and interoperability is critical particularly for incidents that exceed local boundaries, and even more particularly for those less frequent incidents that require support from Federal resources.

The challenge in developing the NIMS and the NRP was to create a system that works equally well for the low impact events as for the high impact events; a system that works equally for local responders as for State or Federal Responders; and a system that truly supported the Incident Commander.

The building blocks of this layered strategy, described in NIMS, are Standard Resource Typing and Standard Organizational Structure. Standard Resource Typing is vital for making certain the right resources get to the right place at the right time. With a Resource Typing system in place, an incident commander can requests assets from anywhere in the country with confidence that he will get what he needs whether the assets are from other local or State jurisdictions or from the Federal Government.

A Standard Organizational Structure for command and control ensures that responders from anywhere in the nation can work together regardless of the nature or the location of the incident. With a common structure and with proper training, responders know where they fit into the organization, they know their own roles and responsibilities, and they know what is expected of them.

HSPD-5 provided an exacting time frame for development of the NIMS and the NRP. The Initial National Response Plan was issued on September 30, 2003, as a bridging document to the full NRP, which should completed by the end of June 2004. The new NRP will replace the Federal Response Plan, the United States Government Interagency Domestic Terrorism Concepts of Operations Plan (CONPLAN), and the INRP. It will integrate and provide linkage to the National Contingency Plan and the Federal Radiological Response Plan. The draft of NRP base plan should be out for comment within the next month or so.

As it stands now, the new NRP preserves what works from the current national plans, adds homeland security focus, fully integrates criminal investigation and emergency response, and broadens the planning focus to include prevention and preparedness as well as response and recovery. Meanwhile, the INRP continues the operational framework of the existing national plans and adds the new elements introduced with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The INRP requires changes to existing plans to accommodate the new DHS elements. The new Homeland Security elements included in INRP and most likely in the new NRP include the Homeland Security Operations Center, the HSOC, the Interagency Incident Management Group (IIMG), the Principal Federal Official (PFO), and the Joint Field Office (JFO).

The HSOC is located at DHS headquarters and is the primary national-level hub for operational communications and information pertaining to domestic incidents. The HSOC provides situational awareness for the Secretary and the common operating picture needed to manage complex domestic incidents.

The National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) at FEMA continues to provide the resource and operational interagency coordination for major disasters, emergencies and other events. Most of you know this as the Emergency Support Team (EST).

The IIMG is senior level interagency policy coordinating group that is activated to support senior strategic decision-making. The IIMG is composed of representatives from all DHS components and other Federal departments and agencies as required by the nature of the specific event.

HSPD-5 designates the Secretary of Homeland Security as the principal Federal official for domestic incident management. To help carry out this important role in large-scale, complex, high-visibility, terrorist or catastrophic events, the Secretary may designate a Principal Federal Official (PFO) as his representative at the incident. The PFO provides senior leadership for the event, but does not replace or duplicate the roles of the Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) or the FBI Senior Agent in Charge (SAC).

The Joint Field Office provides a single, integrated field location for Federal, State and local incident management entities. Conceptually, it unifies the FBI Joint Operations Center (JFO) and the FEMA Disaster Field Office (DFO) into a single location. It is likely that the JFO could replace the DFO for all incidents involving a DHS response. Most likely, FBI will retain the JOC as the operational facility for events that exclusively involve law enforcement.

The NRP and NIMS development are on a fairly fast track, when you consider most government planning efforts. Even so, the DHS leadership recognized the importance of including stakeholders in the process and providing mechanisms from key stakeholders - particularly representatives of state and local government. An advisory group made up of representatives from key stakeholders was formed and meets periodically to review and provide input for drafts of the NIMS and NRP. The group is scheduled to meet again on January 19.

Organizations represented in the group include the National Emergency Managers Association, International Association of Emergency Managers, National Association of Counties, International Association of Fire Chiefs, and others including law enforcement.

The stakeholders delivered a clear message: "Keep it simple. Keep it Very Simple. Use what works. And build on good State and local systems and process - not the reverse." We are listening to our State and local partners and we believe the NIMS and NRP will meet these expectations. This concludes my prepared remarks.

[Audience Questions & Answers]


Doug Adams: How will the NRP fit in the National capital region?

Charles Hess: The NRP will be the overarching plan for coordinating Federal Response applicable everywhere.


Feldt: When are Federal agencies expected to designate IMG members?

Charles Hess: We will establish rosters and call down lists for the IIMG just as we do for ESFLG members.


Rob Moffat: Where and how do you see wireless technologies fitting into the NIMS?

Charles Hess: Communications and other supporting technologies are a key component of NIMS. Challenge will be to assure that all levels of government and interested parties have an opportunity to input on protocols and systems.


Kay Back: Where does the public fit in among the stakeholders? Will the public comment on the NRP? I understand it will be available, but does that mean we'll have input?

Charles Hess: Both the NIMS and NRP are going to be available to the public. Comment has been solicited from state and local entities as well as constituent groups such as IAEM and NEMA, etc. Principal concern is to assure governmental entities can use the NIMS and NRP.


Ken Parrish: Can a JFO/PFO be activated in advance of a Presidential Declaration be approved?

Charles Hess: Yes, if there were a particular threat or impending event, a PFO could be pre-positioned for activation, similar to what we do for commodities and teams pre hurricane landfall.


Ken Konigsmark: Are there roles/responsibilities for large private companies in the NRP or NIMS?

Charles Hess: Yes, candidly this is probably weakest link at this time. We have spoken with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to solicit their thoughts on private sector involvement.


Ray Pena: I'm guessing locals will need to revise emergency operations plans. By what date? Will there be guidance? When?

Charles Hess: Dates are currently in a state of flux. I still believe we are shooting to have a "final draft" NRP available this summer, followed by a period of training, exercising and evaluation with modifications as necessary prior to going live with new plan.


Burt Wallrich: When the phases of disaster are seen as prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery it does not really allow for full consideration of the relief work - taking care of the immediate life needs of victims such as food and shelter - which is neither first response nor recovery. Because relief isn't considered to be one of the phases it can be difficult to plan systematically for the role of private sector partners like Red Cross and other VOAD and Citizen Corps members in a disaster. So at the local level we have to insert relief as an unofficial but crucial "phase."

Charles Hess: Your point is well taken. Anytime we attempt to divide phases of an incident or disaster we run the risk of marginalizing key activities just by our naming conventions. Response includes lots of things including certain relief activities if needed.


Mike Ganley: Will the current ESF structure /format be effected at the FEMA ROCs?

Charles Hess: ESF structure is under review and is the reason I am leaving early from this session. Expect to see added ESFs but not too many – am looking at state-added ESFs as a model.


Peter Casals (IAEM): What is the target roll-out date for the NIMS? This summer as well, along with the NRP you mentioned above?

Charles Hess: Latest version of NIMS (7.1) has been available for about one month, I believe. Comments are being reviewed even now. Expect an updated version within next several weeks.


Dewey Harris: How close will the new NIMS standards be to the current ICS Structure being used by the Coast Guard and other agencies?

Charles Hess: Dewey, expect NIMS and ICS to be somewhat consistent with adjustments made to focus on potential terrorist threats.


Kay Back: Is there a public voice on an advisory group? Any group you'd go to (like Chamber for business) for thoughts on public voice?

Charles Hess: Kay, the simple answer is no; we have not identified a specific individual to represent the American Public at large. The reason we are trying to work closely with state and locals is that they theoretically represent the interest of the public.


Doug Adams: Does ERD (your division) have plans for managing the national effort to incorporate this new NRP, and if so, what do they look like (inspections, training, etc.)?

Charles Hess: We will establish supporting standards, criteria, and processes (similar to EMAP) which will describe how an entity achieves appropriate credentials.


Amy Sebring: That's all we have time for today. Thank you very much, Mr. Hess, for your time and effort. Please note that if we did not get to your question, you may write to Mr. Hess at [email protected] .

Charles Hess: Thanks very much. I appreciate your interest in NIMS and NRP development!

Amy Sebring: If you are not currently on our mailing list, and would like to get program announcements and notices of transcript availability, please see the Subscribe link on our home page.

We are pleased to announce three new partners today:

Korea Emergency Management Alliance, Kyoo-Man Ha, Research Fellow, URL: http://www.kema.re.kr ;

Resource Consultants, Inc., POC: Bob Fitton, Sr Director for Homeland Security, URL: http://www.resourceconsultants.com , and;

Bank of America, Seattle WA, POC: Gennie Thompson, Vice President & Regional Manager, Business Continuity Emergency Manager, URL http://www.bankofamerica.com .

If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please see the Partnership link on our home page.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. Welcome to the 'first- timers' and we hope you will join us again.