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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NIMS Guidelines

What are the U.S. government’s directives for implementing the NIMS guidelines? Provide an explanation for your response.

The US Government has directed that the federal agencies are the responsible agents for disseminating NIMS guidelines and their effective implementation; “Federal departments and agencies play an important role in ensuring effective NIMS implementation; not only must they implement NIMS within their departments and agencies, they must also ensure that the systems and processes are in place to communicate and support NIMS compliance at all jurisdictional levels” (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2010, p. 1). FEMA maintains a set of compliance packages on it's implementation page which are targeted at aiding the following entities in NIMS standardization: Federal Departments and Agencies, States and Territories, Tribal Nations, Local Governments and Jurisdictions, Nongovernmental and Private Sector (FEMA, n.d.)

In your opinion, how effective are these directives?
There are several criticisms regarding NIMS implementation. The first is that there are “many unintended and often unwelcome consequences of such programs, such as encouraging rigidity, institutionalized passivity, apathy, and dependency” (Buck, Trainor, & Aguirre, 2006, p.17). Buck et al also contend that “NIMS ignores the evidence that disaster reconstruction, recovery, and mitigation are intensely social processes dominated by pre-existing social power differentials “ (2006, p.18). One social process singled out by Buck et al is politicized response; “Even a cursory review of what happened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina indicates that the political effects of this catastrophe superseded NIMS, ICS, and other command and control designs.”(2006, p.19). Buck et al also claim that NIMS ignores the presence of volunteers, a phenomenon they term “mass assault”; “At the present time the ICS system does not and probably could not provide for the integration of groups that arise spontaneously and that often perform very important functions in the immediate aftermath(2006, p.20). Buck et al conclude, “Many social demands produced by disasters are too complex and unexpected to be handled by the ICS. The command and control model does not currently, and given the social complexity likely never will work for all phases of disaster operations. The federal government’s hopes to apply NIMS to all phases of disaster operation are misguided. The ICS coordinative mechanisms, such as the multi-agency coordination centers or unified commands, are ill suited to the complexity of the recovery and mitigation tasks as well as to a good deal of disaster response efforts (2006, p.21). However, despite the criticism, it should be noted that NIMS is not fully implemented in the sense that many responders do not “buy in” to the concept. Jensen found that “the average county in the United States(as perceived by that county's emergency manager)did want to implement the NIMS but after modifying the system somewhat” (2010, pp. 94-95), and that since “not all counties in the United States intend to implement the system they are mandated to use in the way it was designed has important implications for the potential of the system to act as an organizing mechanism for emergency management across the United States” (2010, p. 96). Katrina and the BP oil spill both demonstrate instances in which politics, a lack of familiarity with NIMS procedure, and other social processes mitigate the effectiveness of NIMS directives.

Buck, D. A., Trainor, J. E., & Aguirre, B. E. (2006). A Critical Evaluation of the Incident Command System and NIMS. Journal of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, 3(3), 1–27. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=i3h&AN=22625019&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2010). FY 2010 NIMS Implementation Objectives and Metrics for Federal Departments and Agencies. Retrieved February 3, 2015 from http://www.fema.gov/pdf/emergency/nims/FY2010_FederalNIMSImplementationObjectivesMetrics.pdf

Federal Emergency Management Agency. (n.d). Implementation Guidance and Reporting. Retrieved February 3, 2015 from https://www.fema.gov/national-incident-management-system/implementation-guidance-and-reporting#guidancestakeholders

Jensen, J. A. (2010). Emergency management policy: predicting National Incident Management System (NIMS) implementation behavior (Dissertation). North Dakota State University. Retrieved February 3, 2015 from https://cms-devel.ndsu.nodak.edu/fileadmin/emgt/Final_Dissertation_Complete.pdf

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