EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – July 23, 2008

The Target Capabilities List Implementation Project
Assessing Our Nation's Preparedness

Robert Sullivan
Preparedness Policy, Planning and Analysis Division
National Preparedness Directorate
Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Edward Dolan
Director, Emergency Preparedness and Response
Office of Policy Development, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

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

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. On behalf of Avagene and myself, welcome to the Virtual Forum! We are pleased you could join us today, including our first-timers. We want you to feel comfortable about participating, and we will be giving instructions as we go along.

Our topic today is "The Target Capabilities List (TCL) Implementation Project: Assessing Our Nation's Preparedness." Since version 2.0 was published last September, FEMA has been working toward implementation and has involved stakeholders in a process to develop Target Capability Frameworks.

If you have not already done so, you can hear a brief intro to the topic on our Preview Podcast by Dennis Schrader, Deputy Administrator for FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate, which is linked from our home page.

Also, there is a related poll/survey question on our home page, "Moving toward a national benchmark for preparedness is: a) a critical advancement, b) challenging but attainable, c) unrealistic." Please take a moment after our session to respond if you have not voted already, and review the results to date.

Now to introduce our guests. Bob Sullivan supports the development of preparedness policies and target capabilities in FEMA’s National Preparedness Directorate. He’s been with FEMA since 1997, initially in Region 1, and has worked as both a hazard mitigation specialist and project manager. Previously, he was Deputy Director of the Northeast States Emergency Consortium, a non-profit disaster education and mitigation organization.

Ed Dolan is the Director for Emergency Preparedness and Response in DHS’ Office of Policy Development. He’s been actively involved in national homeland security policy, including implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 "National Preparedness" (HSPD-8). He is also a New York State Emergency Medical Technician instructor and has more than 20 years of experience as a volunteer fire fighter.

Welcome to you both, gentlemen, and thank you for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to Mr. Sullivan to start us off, please.


Bob Sullivan: Thank you. We appreciate this opportunity.

There are three fundamental questions for the emergency preparedness community: How prepared are we? How prepared do we need to be? What should we do to close the gaps? Officials at all levels of government and the public as well want to know whether we’re ready – whether we have the capabilities – to handle the next big disaster.

In order to answer these questions successfully, we need to maintain a dialogue with our local, tribal, State, and Federal colleagues and develop a framework for clearly and objectively measuring preparedness.

To set the stage, the policy context for this project is Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 "National Preparedness" (HSPD-8). The purpose of HSPD-8 is to "establish policies to strengthen the preparedness of the United States to prevent and respond to threatened or actual domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies."

Last year, DHS issued the National Preparedness Guidelines in response to HSPD-8. Among others things, the Guidelines help establish a system and metrics for assessing national preparedness. The Guidelines include the TCL (v2.0), which provides planning guidance on 37 capabilities.

This Project is a consolidated effort to implement HSPD-8 and the National Preparedness Guidelines. The Target Capability Frameworks are being built off the foundation of the TCL released in September 2007.

I should add that recent legislation, namely the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) and the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, called on DHS/FEMA to consolidate and improve our processes for defining and assessing preparedness.

One other background point: when we refer to capabilities, we mean capabilities needed to prevent, protect against, respond to, or recover from major events. This is about establishing targets for events that may require coordination and resource-sharing across multiple jurisdictions or regions of the country, and with the private and non-profit sectors as well.

Now, the project. FEMA is working with the homeland security and emergency management communities to develop an easy-to-use, objective approach for measuring capabilities. Together, we have begun creating a series of Target Capability Frameworks that can be used by States, local jurisdictions, and tribal governments to determine whether they need a given capability to be prepared for acts of terrorism and large scale disasters, and if so, what their performance level should be.

The end result will be the development of a single, integrated methodology and tool to facilitate capability planning, assessment, and reporting that will be integrated with building block programs across the preparedness lifecycle (plans, teams, equipment, exercises, and training).

Now, let me give you a high-level view of what these Target Capability Frameworks are. They are real easy to use, and each has three charts:

The first chart addresses Performance Classes. This chart organizes jurisdictions into classes based on various risk factors, such as size and population density. This avoids a "one size fits all" approach. Not every jurisdiction needs the same capabilities. Amy, please display the first chart.

[Slide 1]

Now, let’s move onto the second chart, Performance Objectives. This chart specifies five or six very specific objectives for each performance class. The objectives are outcome-focused and measurable. The idea is that a user should be readily able to identify how much of the capability they should be able to access given the specific circumstances of their jurisdiction. Amy, please show us the second chart.

[Slide 2]

Now let’s look at Resource Requirements. The Resource Requirements chart identifies resources needed to achieve the performance objective. Resource Requirements are tied to preparedness lifecycle and should be the "string" that ties all the elements of preparedness planning, personnel, training, equipment, and performance together. Amy, the last chart please.

[Slide 3]

Over time, we hope these Target Capability Frameworks will become our national benchmark for preparedness, a common approach that any State or jurisdiction could use – in a matter of minutes, really – to determine whether they are able to perform a given capability at a certain level of performance.

The Frameworks will also provide a clearer picture of what States and jurisdictions need to do – individually and collectively – to prepare for acts of terrorism and major disasters. They will lead to a greater ability across agencies, disciplines, and levels of government to coordinate, call upon, and deliver resources in all phases of disaster. It is our intention that the Frameworks will also be used to reduce administrative reporting burdens on the States by instituting a single system for meeting reporting requirements.

This is a long-term effort. Right now we’re working with local, State, Tribal, and Federal professionals across homeland security, emergency management, first response, law enforcement communities, and subject matter experts around the country at Technical Working Group Sessions to develop the Target Capability Frameworks for six capabilities: Animal Health Emergencies, Emergency Operations Center Management, Intelligence, Mass Transit Protection, On-Site Incident Management, and WMD/HazMat Rescue and Decontamination.

We are holding multiple sessions for each capability that will be completed in August. So far, the participants recognize the importance - and the challenges - associated with the project. They also want us to bring our preparedness tools together, and provide a common, objective "benchmark" for addressing preparedness.

We recognize that the development of these Frameworks isn’t going to happen overnight – significant work remains.

For the near term, we will complete the initial six Frameworks and conduct a national review of the Target Capability. We are planning to release the initial six Target Capability Frameworks in FY09.

We’ll develop additional Target Capability Frameworks in subsequent years, culminating in TCL v3.0 in 2010. Ultimately, we hope to release a single, integrated methodology and tool to facilitate the capability planning, assessment, and reporting process.

Before Ed and I take your questions, we want to emphasize the important role all levels of government play in these efforts. More than 1,500 stakeholders participated in the development of the TCL v2.0, and DHS/FEMA will continue to engage Federal, State, local, and tribal homeland security and emergency management professionals in all aspects of the project.

Our commitment moving forward is to continue to engage first response, emergency management, and homeland security communities. We will work closely with you, keep you and other leaders of our industry informed, and use a multi-faceted adjudication process in FEMA regions to elicit feedback and recommendations during our national review.

We would now like to hear your questions and feedback. We now turn the floor back over to our Moderator.

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Bob. We especially want to hear your comments about this approach, and any experience you may have had with implementing TCLs in your area, or participating as a stakeholder.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Tyler Fortier:
Will you incorporate COOP? [COOP=Continuity of Operations Planning]

Bob Sullivan: We are not currently reviewing continuity of operations capabilities and would defer to FEMA's Office of National Continuity Programs on future integration and reviews.

Ric Skinner:
Regarding the TC "Communications Interoperability," to what extent is non-voice interoperability -- that is data and information -- being given serious consideration?

Bob Sullivan: Thanks. As of right now, our efforts in this project are focused on the six TCs: animal health, intelligence, WMD/hazmat, EOC management, incident command, and mass transit protection. We hope to engage the communications community on future reviews of the communications related TCs.

Vicki Morris:
How is this initiative different than the one that was worked on called National Preparedness System, which dealt with a tool to join all reporting together, also incorporating the TCL's?

Bob Sullivan: Thanks Vicki. We hope that the lessons learned from the development of the NPS and the TCL v2.0 will be the foundation for this effort. FEMA is working to integrate the best elements of each system and create a single, comprehensive capability assessment system to enhance collaborative planning and coordination across all levels of government. Jurisdictions will be able to produce reports to inform their strategies and improve investment planning, and the Nation will be able to generate national preparedness data, as required by Congress.

Tim Riecker:
In New York State (taken as a best practice from our partners in a couple of other states), we're using some of the TCLs as the foundation for an emergency management training needs assessment. I'm looking forward to the results of your project and the impact it will have on future needs assessment efforts we put out. Do you have any insight or guidance so far based on the work completed or your vision moving forward?

Bob Sullivan: Thanks. Many communities and jurisdictions throughout the country are using the TCL v 2.0, and our intention is not to replace that document, but to build off of it. Our vision is creating a "front end" for the TCs that will provide an easy-to-use framework that provides objective performance measures for each TC.

Bob Robinson:
Is local or state participation going to be tied anyway into federal grant processes?

Bob Sullivan: As of right now, there will be no change in FY09 guidance based on the TCL project. However, FEMA is in the process of determining the potential impact of this effort on the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) and other Federal sources of preparedness grant funding. As part of that process, FEMA’s National Preparedness Directorate will work closely with Grants Program Directorate to determine how the TCL project will impact Federal preparedness grants administered by FEMA, and how future grant guidance will include information about the new capability frameworks.

Vicki Morris:
What amount of time do you see jurisdictions having to spend on this initiative, as their plates are full already?

Bob Sullivan: The process for developing the frameworks is centered around collaboration with stakeholders. We are currently engaged in Technical Working Groups at the Regional level. These TWGs are attempting to build out draft frameworks, which will then be provided to the emergency management community for comment and feedback.

Amy Sebring: Bob, I think Vicki is referring to further down the road, once the Frameworks are issued for use, and a local jurisdiction tries to implement.

Bob Sullivan: When the frameworks are fielded, we hope that they will greatly simplify decision making, resource decisions, and the administrative assessment burdens of the various preparedness assessments currently in the field.

Robie Robinson:
Why are we re-inventing the wheel when we already have EMAP created, vetted, and in place to benchmark and measure the preparedness of jurisdictions? EMAP has already benchmarked all states, is in the middle of a second round of all states and has been applied to local and regional jurisdictions as well.

Bob Sullivan: EMAP and other critical emergency management benchmarks, standards and guidance are key to this process. We envision the TCs as being the "string" that ties the policies, guidance, and standards of preparedness together.

Steve Spies:
How does this effort plan to integrate the NIC resource typing?

Bob Sullivan: NIC resource typing will be fully integrated into the effort. Resource typing will inform elements of what we refer to as the resource requirements component of the framework. Getting back to the "string" analogy, resource requirements will incorporate all elements of the preparedness life cycle -- planning, personnel, training, equipment and performance.

Liz Manion:
To ensure I understand, the draft TC Frameworks for 6 TCLs will be ready for comment in August and ready for release in 2009 --- do you have a more specific date/month for that? It appears that one of the outcomes is to make the TCL/frameworks scalable for whatever jurisdiction will be using these --- very useful.

Bob Sullivan: It is our intention to provide these for review late in the summer, depending on the final outcome of the TWG process. And you raise an issue of scalability. One of the key enhancements that we see is the introduction of performance classes into the framework. This is in response to feedback that we have received that the TCs provided a "one size fits all" approach, and that we needed to develop the TCs to address the differences between "how much" of each capability jurisdictions need to be able to access.

Amy Sebring: So you cannot say yet, when in 2009? Is there a target (pardon the expression) date range such as the Fall?

Bob Sullivan: It is our hope that we will have the six ready for review in the Fall.

Amy Sebring:
Speaking of performance classes, I have a question. There is no Federal level performance class? I believe this was brought up in recent GAO testimony, the need for a Federal level.

Bob Sullivan: I'll ask my colleague Ed Dolan from DHS Policy to field this question.

Amy Sebring: (Ed was delayed a bit in joining us. We were not ignoring him.)

Ed Dolan: Yes, we will have federal classes, or objectives, depending on the capability.

Shelley Lee:
Is it known yet whether the new TCLv2.0 will expand the number of DAE's deployed by FEMA or the mission of those DAE's at declared disaster sites?

Bob Sullivan: Thanks. One of the goals of this project is to focus the performance objectives on measurable outcomes, so instead of counting the number of resources required to perform a capability, we would instead ask, "Can you achieve the desired outcome?" We want to focus on those "critical few" objectives that have to be preformed to deliver the capability.

Ric Skinner:
How does the HLS Comprehensive Assessment Model (HLS-CAM) factor into TCL efforts? [See http://ndpci.us/hls_cam.html]

Ed Dolan: The idea is that there will be many, many ways to meet the performance objectives. We don’t want to be prescriptive and say you have to meet a capability any one way, but to provide lots of options for thoughtful folks to meet a given end, and to stress the importance of meeting an objectively measurable outcome. We don't want to require that people use a specific tool; rather, they can apply lots of tools to this.

[Question was lost from the transcript. Essentially it was asked whether the FEMA TCL Implementation Project was coordinating with other FEMA programs to reduce redundancy of state and local reporting requirements.]

Bob Sullivan: Yes. And thanks for this question. One of the central goals of this project is to establish these frameworks as a way to reduce the number of current assessments in the field, using the TCs to capture the information being collected in assessments like the State Preparedness Report and NIMSCAST. So the answer is absolutely yes. We are working closely with all elements of FEMA to find and flesh out those common areas so we can move towards a combined methodology and assessment.

Shelley Lee:
Will volunteer groups such as Citizen Corps, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Air Guard, etc. have a bigger role in the move toward achieving new TCL's?

Ed Dolan: The idea is to identify those things that we need combined efforts to achieve, so, depending on the capability, we may need volunteer groups, Coast Guard, etc. The point is that there are lots of different ways of pulling together different groups to provide resources, and it will be easier for them if we distill down what we're trying to do to a few common objectives.

Frannie Edwards:
The TCL 2.0 still does not acknowledge any mitigation step, only prevention. The list still appears to be focused on WMD. Will you ever add a natural hazards aspect, since hurricanes, wildfires, floods are seasonal and annual, and earthquakes are significant events? I thought this was a post-Katrina goal.

Ed Dolan: Yes, we need to acknowledge natural hazard requirements, which is how we've evolved to a single all-hazards approach. We've learned over and over that we can't know the next big thing, so if we have the right capabilities, we can respond effectively regardless of the scenario. For example, communities in areas that need more evacuation, or public alert and warning, or mass care capabilities can plan and prepare more effectively if we only stress the need to have the vital few capabilities that are the highest priorities.

Amy Sebring: Bob, since, due to your background, hazard mitigation must be near and dear to your heart, would you like to add a few words specifically on that theme?

Bob Sullivan: It very much is and we are going to be working on development of these capabilities throughout the entire emergency management and preparedness communities. The feedback on the capabilities that we get across the mission areas is the key to making the TCs the ‘string’ that can bring emergency management elements together.

Amy Sebring:
As a final question to both of you, I would like you to address a little more about the participation of the Working Groups -- how that has been going, what kind of comments you are getting, etc.

Ed Dolan: We're getting very good feedback from the working groups. The idea is to build toward a shared consensus, and the way we get to a consensus is to get a wide variety of inputs, and the groups have absolutely been doing that. As a result, we think we'll put together drafts that reflect the thinking of lots of different experts, from many different perspectives.

Bob Sullivan: Initial feedback from the nine TWG sessions conducted so far indicates that State, local, and tribal participants support the concept of frameworks and are eager to continue to participate in the development process. There is a large amount of interest and an acknowledgement at all levels that state and local feedback from the start is the key to the success of the effort. We have also heard support for the idea of a more concise, tiered set of objectives for each capability.

If I may, I'd like to reemphasize that this is really still the start of this process. Now that we have begun to develop these frameworks and engaged with our partners on building them, we will start expanding to additional capabilities, moving toward a release of v3.0 in 2010. So it is crucial that the lines of dialogue on the development of these frameworks remain open.


Amy Sebring: That's all we have time for today. Thank you very much Bob and Ed for an excellent job and we appreciate your time and effort and sharing this information. Thanks also to Amy Stephens and Ann McCartan with Booz Allen for assisting with setting up the program. And thanks to all our participants for great questions and comments. Please stand by just a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements.

Again, the formatted transcript will be available later today. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to get notices of future sessions and availability of transcripts, just go to our home page to Subscribe.

Before we adjourn, please take a moment now, or after you review the transcript to Rate today's session and/or write a review or post your comments. You can access the form either from today's Background Page or from our home page. If you do not have time to write a short review or comment, then please just take a moment to do the rating. It should take less than a minute and will assist future visitors to our site to find useful information.

Our next session will be August 13th when our topic will be Public Assistance Cost Recovery.

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Bob and Ed for an excellent job.