Measuring Disaster Preparedness: FEMA Has Made Limited Progress in Assessing National Capabilities, Statement of William O. Jenkins, Jr., Director Homeland Security and Justice Issues, Testimony Before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 410KB]

"This testimony discusses the efforts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)--a component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)--to measure and assess national capabilities to respond to a major disaster. According to the Congressional Research Service, from fiscal years 2002 through 2010, Congress appropriated over $34 billion for homeland security preparedness grant programs to enhance the capabilities of state, territory, local, and tribal governments to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks and other disasters. Congress enacted the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (Post-Katrina Act) to address shortcomings in the preparation for and response to Hurricane Katrina that, among other things, gave FEMA responsibility for leading the nation in developing a national preparedness system. The Post-Katrina Act requires that FEMA develop a national preparedness system and assess preparedness capabilities--capabilities needed to respond effectively to disasters--to determine the nation's preparedness capability levels and the resources needed to achieve desired levels of capability. Federal, state, and local resources provide capabilities for different levels of 'incident effect' (i.e., the extent of damage caused by a natural or manmade disaster). FEMA's National Preparedness Directorate within its Protection and National Preparedness organization is responsible for developing and implementing a system for measuring and assessing national preparedness capabilities. The need to define measurable national preparedness capabilities is a well-established and recognized issue."

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