Special EMForum.org Webinar Program -- January 26, 2012

Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030
David J. Kaufman
Director, Office of Policy and Program Analysis
Federal Emergency Management Agency

The following is a summary transcript prepared from the recording. It is not intended to be a complete, verbatim transcript.
This transcript contains references to slides which can be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/SFI/120126SFIbrief.pdf
A video recording of the live session is available at http://www.emforum.org/SFI/120126SFIwebinar.wmv
An audio podcast is available at http://www.emforum.org/SFI/120126SFIwebinar.mp3


Amy Sebring: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to EMForum.org for today’s special event. We are very glad you could join us. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Moderator.

Today’s program is all about looking ahead to the future, hence the title of our program and the new report Crisis Response and Disaster Resilience 2030. Some of you may have been involved with the SFI for some time, and others may be completely new to the concept. Either way, our purpose today is to provide some background and get your feedback.

We will begin with an overview presentation, and then proceed to our discussion.

[Slide 1]

Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s guest: David J. Kaufman has been the Director of FEMA's Office of Policy and Program Analysis since his appointment during September 2009. In this position he is responsible for providing leadership, analysis, coordination, and decision-making support to the FEMA Administrator on a wide range of Agency policies, plans, programs, and key initiatives.

His previous service included establishing the Office of Preparedness Policy, Planning and Analysis in FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate and Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Preparedness Programs Division in the DHS Office for Domestic Preparedness.

Welcome David, and thank you very much for joining us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.


[Slide 2]

David Kaufman: Thank you. This is a discussion about looking at how the world is changing and how those changes impact our mission in dealing with crisis response and disaster management. First I will give an overview of the initiative, how we have gone through our process, our methodology and then I will spend most of my time talking about the findings and insights that we have developed to this point.

[Slide 3]

We launched the Strategic Foresight Initiative about 18 months ago collectively as a field of practice. We were concerned that we didn’t have enough space in our lives to step back and notice change or to ensure that we are well positioned to avoid strategic surprise in the future. This is an exploration we are doing involving all the players in the business of dealing with emergencies and disasters.

We felt it was important to create a forum where we could all talk about issues dealing with changes in the world and how they affect our mission. FEMA has stepped up to underwrite this undertaking and provide our forum. We just released our first major report.

[Slide 4]

We have undertaken this together as a field of practice. Today we have over 800 participants in the community from all perspectives. We have had an extensive series of webinars, calls, and outreach and a workshop that have helped us develop the insight we have.

[Slide 5]

I’ll cover methodology briefly. The first step was stepping back and asking who or what would affect the future of emergency management. We brought together representatives from 30 organizations to answer that question in August of 2010. They returned a list of nine drivers that we thought were significant issues that could impact us.

We began to research each of those drivers to develop understanding in each of those areas. Papers concerning those drivers are on our website.

This process is not about prediction. It is about developing insight and understanding of what we may face in the future. This is a tool to hedge against uncertainty. One way we do this is through alternative scenarios that explore different interactions between these drivers.

That brings us to where we are in the process—an initial definition and understanding of strategic needs we face as a field of practice as we look ahead over the next 20 years.

[Slide 6]

I mentioned the nine drivers. These are not the only nine. We have already begun identifying other issues.

I will talk about each of the nine drivers on your screen and relate some of the insights from each of these and how they interact with each other. It is important to understand what is occurring in each of these areas and how they affect each other.

[Slide 7]

As we look at the state of infrastructure in the United States, there have been studies regarding challenges, decay, degradation, and costs. In the nature of disasters, we consider the services that rely on that infrastructure and the fact that the infrastructure can contribute to the problems we face.

At the bottom of the slide, you see demographic shifts. The population is aging, increasing in diversity, and becoming more geographically concentrated in urban areas and coastal areas. There are high growths in minorities. All of these things affect how we communicate, coordinate, mobilize and what kinds of services we need to provide. Combined with the state of infrastructure—people are moving to these areas where the infrastructure is already under stress.

Another point is climate change. The nature of those changes has implications for our business associated with shifts to the nature of risks and planning.

We have looked closely at the current state of governmental budgets at every level—in particular, constraints and reductions in resources. It will be difficult to maintain what we have created and may be a challenge to continue to deliver the quality of service we have today.

Technology has revolutionized many things already. There are huge implications in the flow and availability of information in the future. This has implications in the ways people are using social networks—as sentinels, validators, and platforms for action. This changes how communicate and give warnings.

Disaster management is an inherently social process so how we communicate, warn people, or evacuate people is important. The current trend is a shift from trusting large institutions and trusting social networks. That is critical for us to make sure we are communicating so that information gets to the people who need it.

We have seen changes in the nature of the supply chain worldwide from everything from utilities to food. Identifying core suppliers can be resources in large scale catastrophic planning, but it also represents incredible concentration risks. Projecting those trends forward exacerbates these issues and raises new ones.

We see advances in the future in biotechnology, remote sensing, etc, that have implications for advancing our ability to execute. We see changes in the nature of empowerment of individuals due to social media.

There are shifts in the nature of terrorist threats. We use only unclassified open-source information in our analyses so we could have these discussions openly, but we are already seeing changes in the natures of threats. It is difficult to project what that will look like in the future.

[Slide 8]

I tried to touch on some trends and counter-trends in the areas of these drivers. We don’t want to zero in on any of the trends alone and predict that they will occur as projected. What we want to do is explore the alternatives and look for what holds up consistently. We are looking for issues, problems and needs that span the spectrum of the alternatives consistently.

We have constructed scenarios of different futures and looked for strategic needs that we are struggling with in every scenario.

[Slide 9]

We have grouped these findings into three basic themes. There is more amplification on these themes on our website. We have grouped them around essential capabilities, the nature of models and tools we need to employ, and the dynamic relationships and partnerships we need to have.

In the essential capabilities, we have omni-directional communication and knowledge sharing. That means it is communication among many partners and always in a two-directional way.

We talked about volunteer capabilities and the need to expand the capabilities of volunteer agencies to assist.

In the innovative models and tools section—there are some meaningful discussions about risk management tools and processes. For the most part, we do hazard and risk assessment looking through a rearview mirror, but for many of those hazards, the past is not indicative of the future. We are underestimating risk in some critical areas.

We need more dynamic processes that truly project forward and allow for more uncertainty and range projection in how we do assessments and how we manage the risks we identify.

Similarly, about alternative surge models—we are increasing requirements to surge resources to large crises. When we do that, we take away resources from other areas, and we are already challenged by the scope of bad crises today. We are forced to think about how we surge, who we use to surge, where the surge comes from, and how it is coordinated. We need to get more creative in thinking about the resources we can bring to the table.

In the area of dynamic relationships and partnerships, we discussed changes that were assessed to be occurring across all the alternative futures—a greater role being played by private sector, civic organizations, faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the public.

The question becomes one of how officialdom and established practice deal with those manifestations and how they may emerge. Overall, we see more play from more people both domestically and internationally.

[Slide 10, 11]

The bottom line is we are facing a world with increasing complexity, decreasing predictability, and increasing risk. The issue of resource constraints is not going away. Even where the economy is good, the resource base is insufficient to deal with increasing severity of challenges.

The role of individuals, families, communities and the private sector becoming more active remains to be determined depending on how that role is supported and how it comes to be. Trust is absolutely critical to everything we do. Without trust, information is viewed as suspect.

The effectiveness with which we can deliver outcomes to people in need requires trusted relationships. We have to actively strengthen these things and the way we see things emerging over the coming decades will further strain these issues.

We need better understanding of behavioral science to gain insight into new strategies to employ. We also need to take on working through and working with the influencers in social networks so that information is provided through the ways people are pre-disposed to receive it.

We are building mental and physical pathways that take the brain out of the equation and move it more to instinct so people will react quickly. This applies to individuals and communities. We need to know where communities and individuals turn in a crisis so that we can better inform them.

[Slide 12]

That brings us to where we are in our process. We have an initial round of findings. This is not finished—it is a sustained discussion thread that we need to maintain and we are willing to underwrite that. We need to identify need issues to explore and find new ways to explore them.

There was really very little in the way of strategic needs that I hadn’t heard anyone talk about before, and that is a good thing because we are already pulling on these different threads. The other side is that we are not moving quickly or deeply enough to deal with the nature of challenges we are seeing.

As I reflect on what the preponderance of effort has been in our field in the past ten to twelve years, it has been about breaking down silos within and across government. We have made unbelievable progress in this area.

That aligns with things we have called out as national priorities. I think the next ten years may need to be about the same process but moving beyond government to break down silos across sectors in a way that will allow much more collective capacity. These are societal challenges that need societal solutions.

[Slide 13]

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much David. Now, to proceed to our discussion. Please keep your question or comment related to today’s topic and reasonably concise. I will change back to the discussion topics so you can keep them in mind as we proceed. We are ready to begin now, so please enter your comment or question at any time.


Bob Fletcher: I congratulate Dave and FEMA for its engagement in strategic planning of this type. Futurists have labored for many years with societal challenges of this type as has DARPA and other government think tanks. FEMA's efforts to bring critical analysis and strategic thinking into mainstream risk management and HS/ EM arena is commendable. Yesterday's strategic thinking is today's short term planning and tomorrow's reactive response. I would be interested in hearing Dave's view on how this initiative might impact upon the body of DHS/ FEMA policy and regulatory doctrine that has been crafted to centrally direct/guide contingency planning at state and local level as well as into the private sector. Will top down direction be replaced by real time collaborative planning in support of unfolding local initiatives?

David Kaufman: That is the direction we think we need to go. We have been developing this discussion around whole community and these things have reinforced each other. We are trying to keep an anticipatory and integrative posture at all levels that is also enabling—for example, we are coordinating our logistic movements with major private sector players so that we are complementary to each other.

We are going back through the policy framework we operate under and trying to think about the challenges and the strategic direction, posture and philosophy we want to project as an agency. We are looking for the places in which we need to make changes.

I think top down direction will be replaced by real time collaborative planning. It is hard to figure out exactly what that means in practice, but those ideas are in place and the government is in the process now in developing national framework for prevention, protection and mitigation and is redoing the national response framework. We just published the national disaster recovery framework. The theme of enabling local initiative and supporting those actions are pretty clear in the President’s statement of direction.

Joseph Martin III: I notice much of the focus still appears to be on response and preparedness, but to what extent should mitigation and integrating Risk Management into our communities and city management principles (ala Integrated Disaster Risk Management) take importance as we look towards 2030?

David Kaufman: I do not think this is about response. There is a real need to be engaging as emergency managers and the community of practice in community planning, infrastructure planning and development discussions in a forceful way. It is important to discuss these risks and their implications over time.

The implications of what we are looking at are very stark and significant and we have a lot of room to go to develop tools to communicate that information and full understanding across the board.

Pat Schaffer: You spoke about hazard identification and risk assessments needing to change. Now there is not a systemic formula for risk assessments to be conducted. Do you foresee an alignment of methodology that all divisions in FEMA, State and local jurisdictions can use to be speaking the same language of risk?

David Kaufman: I am not a purist in this sense. I don’t think there is a golden methodology. I think there are many methodologies for particular problems, but we don’t dialog meaningfully about policy judgments and the prioritization about how we interpret the findings. Different factors have different importance at different levels.

We need to open the exchange so we can build shared context and begin to understand and build our ability to effectively coordinate and deliberate in times of crisis.

William Fry: What changes in our political environment did you consider? For example, will our trend of federalization continue?

David Kaufman: We did not look at that in this analysis. That merits discussion and we should be discussing it.

Claire B. Rubin: I did not see mention of education -- both of existing FEMA staffers and of the future practitioners who are in Higher Education programs in emergency management throughout the U.S.

David Kaufman: I would characterize education as part of the solution space. In the report you will see discussions around the importance of education, although maybe not as explicitly as it should be. Here at FEMA we believe it is a powerful place to go and something we should invest in so that we can build better understanding within the general population and for practicing professionals.

Chris Saeger: You spoke of public trust in government. How should professional responders demonstrate trust in volunteers?

David Kaufman: It is about recognition, respect and reciprocity at the heart of it—granting a meaningful seat at the table, engaging on level playing fields as equal partners, supporting and understanding where support is needed on the terms of voluntary organizations so that they are empowered to act.

Avagene Moore: The SFI Report mentions "a large and growing body of global best practices" that we can learn from and utilize. I believe strongly in this - however - in the EIIP’s 14-year history, we find little or no interest in subjects related to lessons learned from outside our borders. How do you suggest we overcome this?

David Kaufman: Look at catastrophes from the past few years—Haiti, Japan, Chile, etc. All of these offer opportunities to understand how different models and practices have played out. At FEMA we are very interested in learning from that. We have launched a comparative study program with a nine country informal working group that looks at community resilience.

I don’t think we do nearly enough and this was a theme at the scenario planning workshop. We could benefit from learning from events outside our borders. We are moving in that direction.

Amy Sebring: The report highlights the need for collaboration with Canada and Mexico. Has the SFI engaged with Canada and Mexico yet?

David Kaufman: Not specifically at SFI, although I have had some discussions with Canada and there was an interest in opening that dialog. We have engaged with Canada in issues with resilience and both countries about cross-border mutual aid.


[Slide 14]

Amy Sebring: Time to wrap for today. Here is the contact information where you can follow up and provide further feedback: [email protected] and the URL for the SFI Website http://www.fema.gov/about/programs/oppa/strategic_foresight_initiative.shtm

David, on behalf of Avagene and myself and all our participants, thank you very much for taking time to share this information with us today. And thanks also to your staff for assisting with the preparation for today’s program.

David Kaufman: Thank you. I enjoyed it. If you have questions, submit them to our email. This is an open process and we are here to be meaningful in supporting that.

Amy Sebring: For EMForum.org newcomers, please note we have regular Webinar programs on a wide range of emergency management related topics twice a month, normally on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at noon Eastern.

If you would like to receive our future program announcements, you can subscribe from our home page at http://www.emforum.org . Also note you can earn CEU’s for participating through a partnership with Jacksonville State University. Details are linked from our home page.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. Have a great afternoon and pleasant evening. We are adjourned.