A Common Goal for Contingency Planning and Management,
Emergency Management, and Homeland Security:
Building a Disaster Resilient Nation

By Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.

February 28, 2005

Note: Some of the recommendations offered here first appeared in a briefer form in an article by the author in Global Assurance, July 2004 (http://www.contingencyplanning.com).

Since 9/11, expertise, understanding, and actions involving contingency planning and management (CPM), emergency management (EM), and homeland security (HS) have been evolving in increasingly complementary ways. At the same time, only a relatively small number of institutions and organizations are working to develop a work force with the capabilities to address post 9/11 challenges in a comprehensive way, a way that emphasizes the creation of a nation that is increasingly disaster resistant and disaster resilient. Part of the challenge is that there is as yet no well developed and integrated body of knowledge and understanding that encompasses CPM, EM, and HS, a body of knowledge and understanding that has been brought together for the purpose of enhancing the disaster resistance and disaster resilience of the nation. Efforts to accelerate the development of such a body of knowledge could play an all important role in preventing, mitigating, and minimizing the effects of any disaster or incident, whether natural or man-made in origin.

Following 9/11, an increasing array of initiatives and efforts seem to be focusing on similarly aligned or complementary goals:

  • Initiatives that have been ongoing on the part of the organizations at the forefront of field of contingency management and planning. These include programs and initiatives of the Disaster Recovery Institute International (DRII) (http://www.drii.org/) and CPM East and West (http://www.cpm.org). Of particular relevance to the development of an integrated body of knowledge and understanding encompassing CPM, EM, and HS are the workshops and conferences organized by these organizations. Of particular note is the CPM Resource Center's publication of The CPM Dictionary. This dictionary is "a compilation of over 2500 terms, acronyms and abbreviations pertinent to the business continuity, security and emergency management disciplines" (http://www.contingencyplanning.com/Tools/resources/index.aspx.)

  • The National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council's initiatives focusing on disaster resilience. These efforts have included a report that was the focus of an October 24, 2004 Disasters Roundtable Workshop on "Creating a Disaster Resilient America: Grand Challenges in Science and Technology".

  • The United Nations efforts that have emphasized disaster reduction, including the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Kobe, Japan, January 11-22, 2005. As summarized in a World Health Organization newsletter account, a recommendation came out of that Conference that called on "disaster-prone countries to address risk and invest heavily in disaster preparedness" and "(foster) a culture of disaster preparedness and resilience…at all levels." Also identified was the need "to recognize the relationship between disaster reduction, sustainable development and poverty reduction." (For the newsletter and links to the Conference report and recommendations, see http://www.disaster-info.net/newsletter/98/world.htm.)

  • Presidential Directives resulting in the launching of initiatives by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) aimed at developing an integrated approach to disaster management and response. As a complement to these efforts by DHS, a part of the Homeland Security Advisory Council structure has also focused increasing attention to the need for a common lexicon.

How could these and other similar or complementary efforts and initiatives be maximized so that they would be most likely to result in progress? A five-step approach that could build on these developments and help ensure the application of newly integrated knowledge is outlined here. Such an approach could be helpful in addressing current challenges while advancing economic security; individual, community, and societal security; and national security.

A Proposal for a Five Step Approach

1) Convening of a group of thought leaders. A first step could be to convene a group of five to ten thought leaders with expertise that encompasses CPM, EM, and/or HS. These individuals would be selected for their shared commitment to developing a common framework for CPM, EM, and HS. Thought leaders could be commissioned to present working papers that would be designed to help focus and advance discussion, understanding, and action. An article by the author entitled "Using E-Technology to Advance Homeland Security Efforts" provides a description of approaches to knowledge generation, consolidation, and transfer that have been used in the medical research arena by the Office of Medical Applications of Research (OMAR) of the National Institutes of Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (http://gordonhomeland.com or http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/etechnology.html.) The approaches include the holding of two different types of conferences: state of the science conferences (or, in the case of CPM, EM, and HS: state of the art conferences) and consensus development conferences. The general approach taken by OMAR could be readily adapted to the challenges involving the consolidation of knowledge and understanding involving CPM, EM, and HS.

2) The holding of follow up meetings. A second step could be to hold a much larger meeting or series of meetings aimed at

  • Sharing and enhancing the understanding consolidated in the small group meetings;
  • Achieving a shared understanding of present challenges; and
  • Considering what would be entailed in the development and implementation of an action plan.
Discussion could focus on refined versions of the working papers that would result from the initial meetings of thought leaders.

3) Identifying actions and strategies. A third step would be to identify a set of specific actions and strategies aimed at advancing and integrating knowledge and understanding involving CPM, EM, and HS. A new set of meetings or online exchanges involving thought leaders could be held to help complete identification and compilation of information about proven and/or promising programs, policies, approaches, and strategies involving CPM, EM, and HS. These might involve initiatives in the following areas:

  • Education and Training: Education and training initiatives that could include the need for accelerated efforts to establish and implement relevant degree and certificate programs and other training programs, including in-service and pre-service programs for professionals and paraprofessionals. For an overview by the author to references and resources relating to training and education, see "Education and Training Initiatives Needed to Address Threats and Challenges to Homeland Security" (http://gordonhomeland.com or http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/homeland_educ.html) and "Capabilities and Skills Needed by Those in New Roles of Responsibility for Homeland Security at the State and Local Levels of Government," (http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/CapabilitiesAndSkillsNeeded.html or http://gordonhomeland.com). Also see the section on education and training in the "List of Selected Homeland Security References and Resources" (compiled by the author and updated January 10, 2005, http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/resources.html or http://gordonhomeland.com).

  • Disaster Resistant/Disaster Resilient Communities, Businesses and Industries, States, and Regions and a Disaster Resistant/Disaster Resilient Nation: Private/public sector efforts aimed at developing a "disaster resistant" or "disaster resilient" nation with disaster resistant and resilient communities, businesses and industries, states, and regions. This would include EM efforts that focused attention on all phases of the EM cycle: prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery, while also including a focus on CPM and continuity of operations planning, preparedness, and implementation. This would also include focus on multi-purpose public/private sector strategies, action plans, and systems designed to enhance readiness, situational awareness, information collection and sharing, knowledge transfer, decision-making, and action as these apply to the full range of threats and challenges, including national security threats and challenges. For a discussion of the knowledge transfer process, see the author's "Knowledge Transfer: Improving the Process" (http://gordonhomeland.com or http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/knowledge_transfer.html.) For a discussion of various aspects of the planning and strategizing, see the author's "Comparative Scenario and Options Analysis: Important Tools for Leaders, Change Agents, Planners, and Decisionmakers" (http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/compscen.pdf or http://gordonhomeland.com) and "Recognizing and Addressing Problems of Scientific and Technological Complexity" (http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/problems_scientific.html and http://gordonhomeland.com.

  • Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) and Continuity Efforts: Programs, policies, approaches and strategies aimed at restoring, rebuilding, preserving, protecting, and securing the nation's critical infrastructure and critical assets. CIP concerns encompass cybersecurity as well as concern for the reliable and secure operation of Program Logic Computers (PLCs), Digital Control Systems, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Systems. A multi-pronged approach to CIP and continuity could play a significant role in preventing as well as minimizing the near-term and long-term impacts of any event whatever its origin. (Analysis of and recommendations regarding CIP concerns can be found in the following work by Gordon: "Improving Homeland Security & Critical Infrastructure Protection and Continuity Efforts" (http://gordonhomeland.com or http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/hscipreport.pdf); "Improving Homeland Security - Continuing Challenges and Opportunities," a presentation to the EIIP Virtual Forum, 3/24/2004 (http://gordonhomeland.com or http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/eiipdhs.htm); and "Infrastructure Threats and Challenges: Before and After September 11, 2001" (http://gordonhomeland.com or http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/homeland_infra.html). Recommendations concerning disaster resistant communities and regions, including FEMA's former Project Impact model. This approach included public private partnerships that focused on mitigation and preparedness. The approach is noted in "Improving Homeland Security - Continuing Challenges and Opportunities." Also see the section on CIP in the "List of Selected Homeland Security References and Resources (January 10, 2005)" (http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/resources.html or http://gordonhomeland.com) for additional references and resources on CIP.

4) Creating and building upon action groups and networks. A fourth step would involve the creation of formal and informal action groups and networks: Such efforts would build upon existing groups and networks that would be instrumental in carrying out the plan of action. For pertinent references and resources, see the section on existing task groups, partnerships, and consortia, etc., in the "List of Selected Homeland Security References and Resources (January 10, 2005)" (http://users.rcn.com/pgordon/homeland/resources.html or http://gordonhomeland.com)

5) Enacting a plan of action. The fifth step would involve carrying out the plan of action and building on existing action plans. The leadership needed to facilitate implementation of a plan of action could come from the private sector or the public sector or a collaboration involving both sectors. It may be that the initial impetus for such efforts could evolve most quickly in the private sector.

Now is an opportune time to address the challenge of integrating the bodies of knowledge and understanding that are encompassed by CPM, EM, and HS. Now is the time to consolidate this knowledge and understanding and to put it to use in ways that contribute to the disaster resilience and security of the nation.


Paula Gordon's homeland security website at http://gordonhomeland.com includes
writing, reports, and compilations of references and resources on homeland security concerns.
E-mail: pgordon@erols.com.




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