Comparative Scenario and Options Analysis:
Important Tools for Agents of Change
Post 9/11 and Post Hurricane Katrina

Paula D. Gordon, Ph.D.

Vol. 1 No. 2 Homeland Security Review (2006)

Imagining how the future might unfold is not an aptitude that everyone has. It is, however, an aptitude that can be developed and put to good use by leaders, planners, decision-makers, managers, and other agents of change. (Hereafter in this article all of these will be referred to as "change agents" or "agents of change.") The exercise of imagination can take any of a variety of forms from wild guesses, crystal ball-like readings, and wishful thinking to thoughtfully crafted analyses based on best available knowledge, insight, and understanding. The latter kind of analyses may prove especially helpful tools for change agents to use. Such tools can include the analysis and comparison of analyses of scenarios and options. Such analyses can provide a helpful, as well as powerful ways of imagining or visualizing the future.

Based on Webster, a "scenario" can be defined as being "an imagined or possible series of events or sequence of actions." Scenarios can be used to think through and describe how events might unfold. An "option" can be defined as one of several possible alternative choices. For change agents, such choices might include problem definitions, programs, policies, approaches, strategies, tactics, courses of action, and possible outcomes. "Options analyses" might be seen as building blocks of scenarios. The comparative analysis of scenarios, as well as the comparative analysis of options, can be used to examine, plan, develop, weigh, and/or consider courses of action or approaches. Comparative scenario and options analyses can also be used to form decisions concerning immediate, near- or long-term actions. They can also be used to arrive at possible or plausible explanations of past events. Typologies which can be viewed as attempts to categorize or classify areas of concerns or "map of a universe of concerns" can also play a useful role in such analyses and will also be discussed in this article.

This article is intended to serve as an introduction to the subject of comparative scenario and options analysis. The essential nature of such analysis and some potential uses and benefits will be described. Various ways in which comparative scenario and options analysis can be used by agents of change will be discussed. In addition, the article will address some ways in which these tools can be applied to both past and current concerns and challenges bearing on emergency management and homeland security in a post 9/11 and post Hurricane Katrina world. This will include a focus on the relevance of critical infrastructure protection, reliability, resilience, and continuity concerns to both emergency management and homeland security. The typology of emergencies that will be presented may help shed light on the extremely problematic nature of the local, State, and Federal response to Hurricane Katrina and the failure to fully comprehend the differences between moderately severe emergencies in which infrastructure has not been severely damaged or destroyed and catastrophic emergencies in which major elements of the critical infrastructure have ceased to function effectively or ceased functioning altogether.

Comparative Hypothetical Scenarios

Hypothetical scenarios can be used to consider ways in which the future might possibly unfold and ways in which the future may be shaped or changed. Such scenarios can differ greatly with respect to their generality or specificity. Since omniscience is not an attribute that human beings have, hypothetical scenarios are always going to involve less than perfect knowledge and understanding concerning the future. Indeed, hypothetical scenarios necessarily also reflect less than perfect knowledge and understanding concerning the past and the present. A case in point is a comparative scenario analysis in a White paper on Y2K that focused on several different ways in which Y2K could have unfolded.1 The purpose of including the comparative scenario analysis in that White Paper was to point out the potential outcomes of two different courses of actions, one course of action being far more proactive than the other.2 (An analysis of different interpretations of what actually happened can be found in a separate treatment of the subject.) 3

In developing or considering one or more scenarios, it is helpful to address the following questions:

Another set of questions can be raised concerning the merits of such analysis. These can include:

Indeed, comparative scenario analysis and comparative options analysis can both serve as invaluable educational change tools. Such analytic tools can aid decision-makers and change agents in general in arriving at conclusions concerning the most promising course of action. The use of such tools can also give change agents a significant sense of "buy in" and "ownership" regarding the conclusions that they reach.

Comparative Options Analysis

Comparative options analysis can share much in common with comparative scenario analysis. The two kinds of analysis may also serve complementary purposes. Comparative options analysis can involve consideration and "parsing" of several different ways of looking at a range of different actions that might be taken. Each option might be likened to a snapshot each of which reflects a different constellation of factors, assumptions and considerations. These snapshots may differ according to a variety of criteria that an analyst might decide to use. For instance, options analysis might focus on "status quo" and ideal approaches or on "poor", "good", "better", and "best" ways of addressing a problem. Alternatively, options analysis might focus on different ways of looking at a set of related concerns. For example, Table 1 provides a range of ways of describing emergencies of different levels of severity.

A Note about Typologies

Before discussing Table 1, it would be helpful to include a note about typologies.

Typologies can play a useful role in options analysis. Typologies can in fact be viewed as a kind of options analysis. A definition of "typology" according to Webster's is an "analysis or classification based on types of categories." A typology can be a set of different possible ways of viewing a "universe" or area of concern. Indeed, typologies can be used to map or identify a universe or set of related concerns. An example of such a typology can be found in an article entitled "The Ethics Map."6 That "map" divides ethical behavior in the public service into three categories:

Examples of behavior falling under each category are noted in that analysis.7

Another example is Waino Suojanen's typology of organizations.8 Suojanen identifies the following kinds of organizations:

Other typologies from various fields including government, administration, organization management, and policy development include everything from typologies of different ways of viewing the public interest, to typologies of business organizations and typologies of different approaches to planning.10

A Typology of Emergencies of Differing Levels of Severity

The typology in Table 1 provides a means of comparing and contrasting a range of possible ways of looking at emergencies that are of varying levels of severity, ranging from emergencies that involve the death or injury of scores of people and minimal destruction of property or infrastructure to emergencies that involve the death or injury of millions of people and massive destruction of property and infrastructure. Of course there may be innumerable permutations of all these possibilities. Table 1 focuses in a very general way on some of the possible permutations.

A purpose served by this typology of emergencies is to provide an overview of the "universe" of one possible way of categorizing emergencies of differing levels of severity. These categories can then be used as the basis for comparing and contrasting the ways in which emergencies of varying levels of severity can be seen to differ from one another. Once these differences are clarified, the different approaches that will be needed to address emergencies of varying levels of severity are characterized. These emergencies of differing levels of severity are compared and contrasted using a set of identical parameters. In this typology of emergencies, the parameters used are as follows:

Size of Emergency Numbers of Dead & Injured & Extent of Damage and Destruction Roles of Government General Approaches Capacity for Providing Care Kinds of Skills and Training Needed
Small Scale Scores with minimal damage Local Surging of capabilities Adequate capacity for providing care Focus is on meeting needs of a small scale emergency
Medium Scale Hundreds with minimal to moderate damage Local, state, regional Surging of capabilities and providing for makeshift capabilities Capacity for providing care is taxed but not overwhelmed Focus is on meeting needs of a medium scale emergency
Large Scale Thousands with moderate damage and destruction All levels of government Surging of capabilities and taking extraordinary steps to provide for makeshift capabilities Capacity for providing care is taxed and verging on being overwhelmed Focus is on meeting needs of a large scale emergency
Catastrophic Scale Millions with major catastrophic damage and destruction All levels of government Augmenting whatever is in place and with makeshift capabilities Capacity for providing care is overwhelmed Focus is on developing improvisational skills and meeting needs in an emergency of catastrophic scale
Mega-Catastrophe Multi-millions plus with unprecedented catastrophic damage and destruction Elements of government remaining intact Augmenting whatever is left in place with largely makeshift capabilities Capacity for providing care is totally overwhelmed Focus on meeting the needs of a worst case catastrophe which require reliance on improvisational skills

* *Adapted from a Typology of Emergencies in a "Manual for Local Level Emergency Management Coordinators" by Paula D. Gordon, April 1984 (Available through Inter Library loan from the FEMA Library, 500 C St SW, Washington, D.C.)

The original version of this typology was developed as part of a guidance manual intended for local level emergency managers.12 The manual was meant to help local-level emergency managers prepare for and respond to emergencies of varying levels of severity, through and including an all out nuclear war. The individuals who asked that the guidance be developed did not seem to be basing that request in a realistic assessment of worst case scenarios. The original version of this typology was developed to help those individuals recognize that the universe of emergencies of varying levels of severity needed to be viewed in a vastly expanded way compared to the perspective they had been using. Planning efforts focusing on mass casualty events have often been based in and unrealistic assumptions concerning the destruction that can accompany events in which massive numbers of casualties occur along with unprecedented destruction of property and critical infrastructure. For many decades prior to the December 2004 Asian Tsunami, the enormity of the possible consequences of such a major catastrophic event had not been seriously considered either by very many persons in the field of emergency management or in other roles of public responsibility. The extent of the death and destruction resulting from the Asian Tsunami had been previously foreseen or imagined by very few people.

Natural disasters involving massive loss of life in the United States have been rare. Most notable of these from the distant past have been the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 in which 2800 lives may have been lost and the Galveston, Texas Flood of 1900 in which over 8000 lives were lost.13 Even in a post 9/11 environment, scenarios have rarely been seriously considered in which the nation's infrastructure or the critical infrastructure of a region might be so badly damaged that capabilities to respond would be overwhelmed. As a result, preparedness efforts and contingency planning, more often than not, have been based on very limited and often unrealistic assumptions concerning worst case scenarios. Indeed, even now, many of those analyzing the response to Hurricane Katrina do not seem to be fully cognizant of the many unique aspects of the impacts of that catastrophic hurricane, especially those impacts occurring in conjunction with the breaching of the levee system in New Orleans. Few planners had ever seriously taken into consideration the possible loss or even temporary destruction of multiple elements of the critical infrastructure and the consequent impact on the social fabric and the ability of governments to govern and respond to an emergency involving unprecedented levels of destruction and disruption.14

A major purpose of the original version of this typology had been to jar the consciousness of planners, decision-makers, and those involved in emergency preparedness and management into considering new assumptions concerning the implications of a range of worst case scenarios and catastrophic events. In this way, such individuals might also come to understand that small scale emergencies can not be approached in the same way that larger scale emergencies or emergencies of catastrophic proportions need to be approached. The typology and the guidance material of which it was a part were intended to broaden the understanding of those involved in emergency preparedness and management and help them recognize the importance of developing additional skills and capabilities that would needed in the largest scale emergencies and catastrophes. Many of these capabilities have been written about in case studies and writing and reflections on responses to emergencies. Perhaps, chief among these is the ability to improvise, exercise ingenuity and creativity, and "think outside the box". Other essential capabilities and skills include those having to do with leadership, problemsolving, analysis, decision-making, information gathering, information management, situational awareness and assessment, networking, communication, and conflict resolution and negotiation.15

The Typology of Emergencies focuses on a wide "universe" of possibilities that need to be taken into consideration by those in emergency preparedness and management and those at the highest levels of government who play major roles in the largest scale emergencies and catastrophes. The Typology can be helpful in introducing them as well as the general public to a more realistic understanding of what can actually be entailed in attempts to deal with, respond to, and recover from emergencies and catastrophes of widely differing levels of severity.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, this newly adapted version of the Typology of Emergencies (Table 1) might give rise to insights into why the response and recovery have been so problematic. Planners and those in roles of public responsibility had simply never imagined a true catastrophe in which the major elements of the critical infrastructure were simultaneously impacted. Even the version of the National Response Plan that had been newly minted in 2005 and the government training material designed to introduce its use did not take into consideration the possibility of such widespread impacts.16 The latter two levels of severity of emergencies in the Typology were simply not taken into consideration in any kind of realistic way in the planning or implementation processes.

Many may well remain in denial or otherwise fail to comprehend the enormity of the consequences of larger scale emergencies and worst case catastrophes, but as more individuals, particularly individuals in roles of public responsibility, come to comprehend the enormity of these concerns, the more likely it is that they will adopt realistic and thoughtful approaches for addressing all aspects of the emergency management cycle: prevention, preparedness, mitigation, contingency and continuity of operations planning and management, response and recovery. The more likely it will be that attention will be given to the different kinds of skills and capabilities, including improvisational capabilities that are needed when planning for or addressing larger scale emergencies and catastrophes.

An Example of Comparative Options Analysis from 1984

In 1984, a comparative options analysis played a key role in the decision-making of a FEMA task group headed by then Director Louis Guiffreda. That issue paper was designed to assist the task group in considering ways of reconfiguring the government's approach to nuclear attack preparedness.17

The original version of the table seemed to help the members of the FEMA task group weigh the pluses and minuses of adopting one of a range of options. In a sense, that table serves as a tool for helping to arrive at a consensus concerning the option that was ultimately decided upon.

The five different options for configuring the agency's nuclear attack preparedness efforts that were examined in greater detail in the issue paper were as follows:

  1. Minimal Activity Option (Status Quo)
  2. Medium Visibility/Communications-Focused Option
  3. High Visibility/Advocacy-Oriented Option
  4. Consensus Seeking/Compromise-Oriented Option
  5. Reoriented/Non-Confrontational Option (modeled after the functional all hazards approach to emergency management and civil defense being taken by West Germany at the time).

Parameters in the table included the following:

Each of the five options was described in terms of each of these parameters.

The FEMA task force adopted the fifth option, the all hazards approach. Modeled on the approach that was in place in West Germany, this option was one in which governmental emergency preparedness and response responsibilities were delineated according to functional areas, not by type of emergency, such as nuclear attack, hurricane, flood, or earthquake. Certain functions were seen as being common to all of these emergencies. Functions were seen as being cross-cutting and as being applicable in a wide range of emergency situations, preparedness, mass care, and evacuation from affected areas, being but three examples.

The table in effect provided a means for advocates of the various options to identify the relative merits and deficiencies of each option without being psychologically threatened or put on the defensive. It also paved the way for consideration and eventual adoption of a new option, the fifth option, that had not previously been considered.

Emergency Management and Homeland Security and
The Need for Comparative Options Analysis Today

Before and after 9/11 and before and after Hurricane Katrina, there have been numerous shifts in perspectives concerning what the nature of the Federal involvement in emergency management and the homeland security should be. There have also been differences of perspective on the part of those both inside as well as outside government who are involved in emergency management or homeland security. There are conflicting views concerning the relationship that the field of emergency management has or should have with respect to the emerging "field" of homeland security. In addition it should be noted that some individuals are developing perspectives concerning the way in which these two fields might be integrated.18

Since 9/11 and the major revamping of emergency preparedness, response and emergency management approaches, the “all-hazards approach” previously in place has undergone major changes. Since Hurricane Katrina, renewed attention has been given to an all-hazards approach. It is not as yet clear how this renewed attention might factor into resource allocations, planning, preparedness, and implementation, and the general direction of efforts in homeland security and emergency management.

In the post 9/11 world, there has been a growing recognition of the need to focus additional attention on all aspects of the emergency management cycle. In the post Katrina world, many are struck by the need to give more attention to preparedness and mitigation and make those a comprehensive part of preventing, preparing for, and managing emergencies.19 The need for contingency and continuity of operations plans is a part of this comprehensive approach to emergency management. The time may now be right for a focusing and convergence of the emergency management cycle as it can pertain to both the field of emergency management and an essential aspect of homeland security concerns. This refocusing needs to be on steps that simultaneously serve to strengthen emergency management and homeland security efforts. Both of these areas of endeavor need to focus on strengthening the nation's societal and economic stability while also enhancing individual, community and national security. In Table 2, a way of doing just that is described in the third option. That option is compared with a status quo option and one other option.

Table 2 is entitled "Approaches to Federal Emergency Management and Homeland Security (Including Preparedness and Mitigation for Natural Disasters, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Terrorist Attacks, and Other Catastrophic Events."20

Options Nature of Approach Basic Stance Feasibility Likely Outcomes
Status Quo Approach Fragmented Not an all hazards approach Resources diluted Large potential attack impacts
All Hazards Approach Building on National Response Plan Dual use emphasis Resources better used Improved approach to minimizing potential impacts
A Tiered
All Hazards/Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience Approach to Civil and National Security*
Building on the evolving National Response Plan and catastrophic annex and adding a proactive all-hazards/critical infrastructure protection and resilience focus Multiple use emphasis, including a focus on all aspects of the emergency management cycle** Resources optimally used Greater stability/greatest likelihood of minimizing impacts

* Reflecting a need for planning and implementation that takes into consideration the different requirements for differing levels of severity of emergencies. This approach would including a strong focus on critical infrastructure protection, reliability, resilience, and continuity; societal and economic stability; and civil and national security.

** Including a stronger more comprehensive focus than at present to prevention, mitigation, protection, preparedness, and contingency planning and continuity of operations planning, as well as response and recovery.

Elements of the third option were underscored in the speech that President Bush made in New Orleans on September 15, 2005.21 Similar themes as well as similar recommendations for actions can also be found in presentations and writing by Gordon between 2002 and 2005.22

Reasons for Using Comparative Scenario or Comparative Options Analysis

Why consider using something as imprecise as either comparative scenario or comparative options analysis? Why try to envisage possible ways in which the future might, could, or should unfold? Why consider the effects that certain actions might have on near term or long term events? Why weigh one course of action and its possible outcomes and consequences against another alternative course of action and its outcomes and consequences? The answer is simply that such thoughtful consideration may result in better decisions and courses of action that in turn result in minimizing or preventing losses and improved response and recovery efforts. Such actions can also result in maintaining or improving security or the quality of life. Indeed, a weighing of possible approaches can provide a means for clarifying what the best options in any given situation might be. Visualizing how the future might, could, or should unfold can actually affect the way that the future does unfold because such understanding, however imperfect, can better inform and shape action.23

The use of comparative scenario or options analysis can provide opportunities for assimilating lessons that can be gleaned from past actions and events. Those with responsibility for evacuation planning learned many difficult lessons in both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Comparative options analysis based on the lessons learned could be extremely helpful in developing plans for the future.

The typology of emergencies could help bring home to planners and those in major roles of responsibility an understanding that far different approaches are needed for catastrophes than emergencies of lesser levels of severity. If this is realized, it might also be recognized that whatever the level of severity, all emergencies require a far higher levels of preparedness and community resilience, levels well beyond the levels that presently exists in most parts of the nation. In addition, the role that critical infrastructure can play in response and recover efforts should be clear from the Typology of Emergencies as well as in the comparison found in Table 2 of Approaches to Emergency Management and Homeland Security. There are major choices to be made. Using the tools described here can result in making choices that are far more sound and informed than the decisions that have been made in the recent past.

A comparison of different scenarios or options for action should not only lead to more thoughtful action and assimilation of lessons learned, it should also identify potential pitfalls, deficiencies, and impacts that might not otherwise have been apparent.


Comparative scenario and options analysis is little more than the application of common sense and investigatory and analytic tools to clarifying and organizing thinking and understanding concerning approaches that can be taken to addressing problems and challenges.24 When engaging in such analysis a universe of possibilities can be envisaged, "captured", and explored. It may be a narrow portion of a universe of possibilities or it may be an extremely large portion of such a "universe". If well conceived and utilized, comparative scenario and options analysis can play critical roles in helping develop and apply our intellect, understanding, knowledge, experience, commonsense, creativity, and humanity to improving the way in which we address the range of challenges and problems that face us, whether on a local, regional, national, or global level.

1Paula D. Gordon, Part 5 of "A Working White Paper on Y2K: A Call to Action: National and Global Implications of the Year 2000 and Embedded Systems Crisis." 1998-1999, (Part 5 includes a discussion of scenarios describing ways in which those problems may have unfolded.)

2Paula D. Gordon, 1998-1999, ob.cit.

3A description of the way in which events actually unfolded can be found in Paula D. Gordon, "Strategic Planning and Y2K Technology Challenges: Lessons and Legacies for Homeland Security," 2001.

4Work that provided an early influence on thinking of the author concerning this approach to analysis included: Gerald Feinberg, The Prometheus Project: Mankind's Search for Long-Range Goals. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1968;

Yehezkel Dror, Public Policymaking Reexamined. San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Co., 1968; Paul Davidoff, "Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning." Journal of the American Institute of Planning, 31 (November 1965): 331-338; and Dean Harper and Haroutun Babigian, "Evaluation Research: The Consequences of Program Evaluation" Mental Health Digest, Vol. 3, No. 9 (September 1971) National Clearinghouse on Mental Health Information.

For another complementary approach to scenario development, see "Appendix: Steps to Developing Scenarios" pp. 241 - 248 in Peter Schwartz, The Art of the Long View ~ Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, New York: Currency Doubleday, 1991.

An example of a comparative options analysis that was used by decision-makers at the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can be found in Paula D.Gordon, "Approaches to Developing an Understanding of the U.S. Civil Defense Program". Issue Paper with a comparative scenario analysis of alternative options and a recommendation for an all-hazards approach. The analysis was requested by and submitted to the Civil Defense Coordinating Council of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C., March 1982. Available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Library and through Inter-Library loan: 500 C St. SW, Washington, D.C.

5The comparative options analysis that was used by decision-makers at FEMA in 1982 served such an educational function. Paula D.Gordon, "Approaches to Developing an Understanding of the U.S. Civil Defense Program", ob. cit.

6Paula D. Gordon, "The Ethics Map: A Map of the Range of Concerns Encompassed by 'Ethics and the Public Service'," 2004.


8Waino W. Suojanen, The Dynamics of Management. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1966.

9Idem. See especially pages 4 - 11 and 20.

10For examples of other typologies, see a typology of approaches to the public interest in Wayne A.R. Leys, "The Relevance and Generality of 'The Public Interest' as cited in Paula D. Gordon, Public Administration in the Public Interest, Doctoral Dissertation, American University, 1975, page 97 (see; a typology of approaches to planning in Paula D. Gordon, "Recognizing and Addressing Problems of Scientific and Technological Complexity," page 6,; and a typology of business organizations adapted from the work of Arthur (1996), Desprez and Hiltrop (1996) Lampel and Mintzberg (1996), Sveiby (1997) in Rene Tissen, Daniel Andriessen, and Frank Lekanne Deprez, The Knowledge Dividend: Creating High-Performance Companies Through Value-Based Knowledge Management, Prentice Hall, 2000, p. 131.

11Lt. General Russel L. Honore, CDR JTF-Katrina has provided a typology that focuses on the capacity of different levels of government and the private industry to confront a catastrophic disaster. See Figure 8 in his testimony on February 9, 2006 before the Senate Committee looking into Katrina: JTF-Katrina Response to Hurricane Katrina. (URL:

12Paula D. Gordon, Manual for Local Level Emergency Management Coordinators, April 1984. Available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Library and through Inter-Library loan.

13 and

14A case in point is found in an EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation – December 15, 2004 by the Acting Director, FEMA Preparedness Division, Department of Homeland Security on "Catastrophic Incident Planning Strategies for a Proactive National Response." It is particularly noteworthy that no mention is made of the possibility of extensive damage or destruction of one or more elements of the critical infrastructure. Of particular significance is the near total lack of attention in the after action reports on Katrina, coming from the executive and the legislative branches of government to the significance of the enormity of the catastrophe and the significance of the concurrent or sequential failure of all the essential elements of the critical infrastructure. Except for the observations of a few key actors or observers, the significance of the severity of the catastrophe eluded most contributors or signatories to those after action reports, including the authors of the reports from the White House, DHS, the House, the Senate, and GAO. General Honore's observation summed up the significance of the severity of the catastrophe colorfully: He likened the immediate aftermath of Katrina to a football game in which your team is losing 25 to nothing. General Honore said that Katrina was like a football game in which you could not expect to win anything in the first quarter. (From a September 9, 2005 CNN transcript of an interview he gave on CNN at and a February 11, 2006 talk given before the Houston Forum and broadcast by C-SPAN.)

15Ibid. Also see Paula D. Gordon, "Capabilities and Skills Needed by Those in New Roles of Responsibility for Homeland Security at the State and Local Levels of Government." Posted at or see link at Also published in the PA TIMES, Vol. 28, Issue 3, March 2005 (a publication of the American Society for Public Administration); and Paula D. Gordon, "Transforming and Leading Organizations," posted at or see link at Also published in Government Transformation, Winter 2004-05 issue ( The latter article includes discussion of the leadership and problemsolving skills needed to address more severe emergencies. The following references are included in this article: 15Warren Bennis and Patricia Biederman, "The Manhattan Project" in Organizing Genius: The Secrets of Creative Collaboration. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1996: 171-195; Gene Kranz, Failure is Not an Option. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000; Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Leadership. New York: Miramax, 2002; Chuck Lee, Speech to the Executive's Club of Chicago, December 13, 2001. Available at Accessed January 10, 2004; Ben Charmy, "Digging Out of the Rubble," (with an interview of Mark A. Wegleitner), C-Net News.Com. Available at Accessed January 11, 2004; Mark A. Wegleitner, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, Verizon Communications. Presentation at the McGraw Hill Homeland Security Summit & Exposition in Washington, DC, June 6, 2002; Andrew Morton, Nine for Nine: The Pennsylvania Mine Rescue Miracle 2002. London: Michael O'Mara Books Ltd., November 2002; ESRI Press Release Available at Accessed January 10, 2004; 15Encyclopedia: Bhopal Disaster, National Master.Com. Available at Accessed January 11, 2004.

16The FEMA Independent Study Course known as IS 800 was designed to provide an introduction to the National Response Plan (NRP). All the relevant documents including a copy of the NRP are accessible in this free online course. See The NRP is accessible separately at Modifications of the NRP are still in process as of this writing. For information and link, see The FEMA IS Course 800 on the NRP has been undergoing change as well.

17Paula D. Gordon, "Approaches to Developing an Understanding of the U.S. Civil Defense Program" ob.cit.

18Paula D. Gordon, "A Common Goal for Contingency Planning and Management, Emergency Management, and Homeland Security: Building a Disaster Resilient Nation," article posted February 28, 2005 at or see link at (This article incorporates ideas presented in "The Convergence of Contingency Planning, Emergency Management, and Homeland Security," Global Assurance, July 2004 (

19A copy of a letter dated September 26, 2005 from the Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado at Boulder to be sent to select members of the U.S. Congress regarding the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina can be found at The letter underscores "the significant failures in disaster mitigation, planning, preparedness and response" that Hurricane Katrina "exposed." The letter emphasizes the need to examine the "institutional and societal failures contributing to the destruction of the Gulf Coast." Advocated in the letter is the establishment of an expert panel to provide advice to policy makers and legislators. A purpose of this panel would be to assist in a review of governmental policies and the governmental responses relating to Hurricane Katrina. One of the proposed issues to be addressed was "What steps can be taken, both immediately and over the long term, to improve the nation's resiliency to extreme events?" An interesting aspect of the letter is that the use of the words "catastrophic event" and "extreme event" to describe Hurricane Katrina, and the main focus of the letter on "institutional and societal" failures, lead one to the conclusion that the level of emergency that the letter writers are equating with catastrophic or extreme event are closer to the moderate level than the worse or worst case level of emergency on the Typology of Emergencies. Emergencies that involve the devastation or destruction of major elements of the critical infrastructure are not something that those in the field of emergency management have been used to addressing. It is not surprising that this letter has the focus that it does. Also see Paula D. Gordon, ", "Thoughts about Katrina: Responses to Two Questions about Hurricane Katrina and America's Resilience," December 1, 2005. URL: or see link at (The Forum on Building America's Resilience to Hazards, held December 19-21, 2005, was sponsored by The American Meterorological Society in collaboration with The Space Enterprise Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All invited attendees were asked to submit responses to any or all of four questions prior to the Forum. These are the author's responses to two of the questions.) A report issued by the Multihazard Mitigation Council in December 2005 also provides long awaited evidence of the costs and benefits of mitigation initiative: For every $1 spent in mitigation involving FEMA projects, an estimated amount of nearly $4 was saved.

20This is an updated and abbreviated version of a table that was developed as a part of an issue paper for FEMA by Paula D. Gordon, Approaches to Developing Understanding of the Civil Defense Program, FEMA Issue Paper, March 1982, ob.cit.

21President Bush, September 15, 2005 New Orleans Speech (

22Paula D. Gordon, "Infrastructure Threats and Challenges: Before and After September 11, 2001". PA TIMES, Vol. 24, Issue 12, December 2001. Reprinted as a commentary in the Journal of Homeland Security, April 16, 2002. Also posted at or see link at Also see "Improving Homeland Security - Continuing Challenges and Opportunities," transcript of Emergency Information Infrastructure Partnership (EIIP) Virtual Forum, Paula D. Gordon, guest speaker on March 24, 2004. Posted at or see link at and Paula D. Gordon, "Improving Homeland Security & Critical Infrastructure Protection and Continuity Efforts," February 25, 2003. See The latter is a report in which a status quo approach to addressing homeland security challenges is compared with a more comprehensive approach to homeland security and emergency preparedness and management. Also see Paula D. Gordon, "Thoughts about Katrina: Responses to Two Questions about Hurricane Katrina and America's Resilience," December 1, 2005. URL: or see link at

23Some thought provoking work for those who may be interested in exploring scenario analysis and long range thinking in greater depth includes the following: Gerald Feinberg, The Prometheus Project: Mankind's Search for Long-Range Goals. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1968; Peter Schwartz, The Art of the Long View ~ Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World, New York: Currency Doubleday, 1991; and Jerome C. Glenn and Theodore J. Gordon, Futures Research Methodology -- Version 2.0 ISBN: 0-9722051-1-X 2003. The latter is an extraordinary compendium of descriptions of "tools and methods for forecasting and analysis of global change".

24Other work that relates to complex problem solving and addressing complex societal challenges includes the following: Philip Slater and Warren Bennis, The Temporary Society, New York: Harper and Row, 1968; Paula D. Gordon, Recognizing and Addressing Problems of Scientific and Technological Complexity, 2003,; Paula D. Gordon, " Knowledge Transfer: Improving the Process" 2003,; Paula D. Gordon, "Transforming and Leading Organizations" 2004. transforming_orgs.pdf; Paula D. Gordon, Dissertation: Public Administration in the Public Interest: A Prescriptive Analysis of a Democratic Humanist Paradigm of PublicAdministration. American University, Washington, D.C., 1975,