Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials The United States has a unique position amongst the countries of the world;...
Friday, December 4, 2015
What is the role of technology in resource and agency coordination?
Technology is essentially the creation of tools. Tools are used to make a task more efficient. At the simplest level, you use a hammer to concentrate force on a single spot, or a lever to add force while moving an object. Tools need to be used correctly to be efficient; try pulling out a nail with the striking side of a claw hammer, for example. In terms of resource and agency coordination, technology provides tools to make the tasks of coordination more efficient. Cell phones and satellite radios make mobile communications possible, a thumb drive full of contact numbers and procedural documentation beats the heck out of lugging around a briefcase. Take the case of the FDNY command center during the WTC bombing:
“Chief officers at the World Trade Center scene kept track of the location and assignment of units, but they had no way of backing-up their records. For example, the FDNY Field Communications Unit was responsible for tracking the assignment of Fire units to different alarms, towers, and staging areas. This unit worked next to the Incident Command Post and kept records on a magnetic command board, using small magnets placed on a diagram to indicate unit locations. Chief officers at the Operations Posts in the two towers also used magnetic command boards to track the units assigned to their buildings. These boards and the records they kept were destroyed when the towers collapsed” (McKinsey & Company, n.d, p. 11). A tablet with a custom app could have managed that data, and have been backed up automatically through wireless connection. Data collected in the wake of incidents can be analyzed through statistical software to provide better planning for the next such incident. In every component of effective coordination, from communications to data management to interoperability, advances in technology makes these tasks more efficient. “Information technologies and crisis informatics may vastly increase response efficiency by aiding in the communication and interoperability of responding organisations and the communities impacted” (Bevc, Barlau, & Passanante, 2009, p.19)
Why is the strategic planning process a dynamic endeavor necessitating complete evaluation to sustain an agency’s efficiency?
Every step of implemented change has an effect on the process. In addition, unplanned changes to the environment that the implemented change is taking place in can have an effect on the planning process. The strategic management and planning process is a cycle in which each stage of planning and change may require additional analysis, planning, and correction. “Assessing the current position requires measurement, monitoring and evaluation of outputs and outcomes from the previous planning cycle to determine whether policy objectives are being achieved” (“Leadership, strategic thinking and planning drive good government, JAKARTA POST,” 2004, para. 11).
Bevc, C., Barlau, A., & Passanante, N. (2009). Mapping convergence points in the initial emergency response to 9/11. Disasters, 33(4), 786–808.
Leadership, strategic thinking and planning drive good government, JAKARTA POST. (2004, October 12). WorldSources Online. Retrieved February 19, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/340564046?pq-origsite=summon
McKinsey & Company. (n.d.). FDNY McKinsey report - Increasing the FDNY’s preparedness. Fire Department of New York. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/mck_report/toc.shtml
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Beslan School Massacre: Potential Preventative Measures in Retrospective
The attack on School Number One in Beslan, North Ossetia is a worst case scenario in school violence. The school, and the particular day on which it was attacked, was targeted as a terror tactic. Due to the commonality of suicide devices (bomb vests, and dead-man switches) amongst the terrorists, it is likely that the terrorist intent was to cause as much damage – and thus terror – as possible before dying themselves. This is what the terrorists told their hostages, “'If they come at us with tanks, we will fight back until we run out of ammunition. But then we will take your lives as well as our own.'”(Walsh & Beaumont, 2004, para. 50). This is a type of attack that is very difficult to stop once the attack has begun. The optimal method of preventing such attacks will be discussed shortly.
It does not appear that there was a policy at the school for such events. In fact, Dunlop discusses the situation in which authorities were aware of a likely terrorist attack in the area, but decided not to protect any of the schools (2005, pp.5-6). This lack of planning continued up to the attack itself, when all authorities could do was react. “As local police rushed towards the red brick building, grabbing whatever escapees they could, the first exchanges of gunfire began” (Walsh & Beaumont, 2004, para. 11).
At no point did the government response seem to be effective. The details of interagency coordination and communications remain unknown. Dunlop suggests that “The chain of command...remained muddled” (2005, p. 29). Investigative reviews of the government response give conflicted reports of command and planning issues. “The Kesayev Report asserts that the storming of the school was initiated following a command by federal forces” while the Torshin Report argues “that President Vladimir Putin initially gave instructions to Russian security chiefs, but fails to mention his role further”, also claims that no plan to storm the school was ever prepared by law-enforcement agencies”, and that the government attack on the terrorists but was “a spontaneous attack initiated by armed citizens outside the school who were then supported by special forces troops” (“Russia: Beslan Reports Compared”, 2007, para 24-27). Indeed, the official investigation was not transparent to the public at all. “At a press conference announcing the commission, Mironov stressed that it will not conduct a public investigation” (Coalson, 2004, para. 7).
There are three recommendations to make in the interests of keeping our schools safer. The first is to identify and eliminate terrorist organizations before they conduct operations against soft targets. “The literature on targeted killings suggests that their use diminishes the coercive and operational capability of violent, non-state groups in a number of ways”(Wilner, 2010, p. 312). The second is the standardization of security plans throughout our school systems. “Many schools do not have a formal, written security plan, and even for those that do, they are often either inadequate or not properly exercised” (Hutchinson. 2013, p.11). The final recommendation is the placing of armed guards in schools. The guards would not be able to prevent an attack on the scale of Breslan, but they would be able to counter smaller attacks, and in the act of defending against larger scale attacks provide opportunities for students and educators to escape the situation. “A properly trained armed school officer, such as a school resource officer, has proven to be an important layer of security for prevention and response in the case of an active threat on a school campus” (Hutchinson. 2013, p.11).
ReferencesCoalson, R. (2004, September 21). Analysis: Putin's 'Managed' Investigation Into Beslan. Radio Free Europe: Radio Liberty. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1054959.html
Dunlop, J. (2005). Beslan: Russia’s 9/11? The Jamestown Foundation.
Hutchinson, A. (2013). Report of the National School Shield Task Force. National School Shield Task Force. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from http://www.nraschoolshield.com/NSS_Final_FULL.pdf
Russia: Beslan reports compared. (2007, January 3). Radio Free Europe: Radio Liberty. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1073791.html
Walsh, N. & Beaumont, P. (2004, September 4). When hell came calling at Beslan's School No 1. The Guardian. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/05/russia.chechnya
Wilner, A. S. (2010). Targeted killings in Afghanistan: Measuring coercion and deterrence in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 33(4), 307–329. doi:10.1080/10576100903582543
Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Strategic Planning Critique of the 9/11 Emergency Response
The 9/11 attacks on America became a catalyst for major changes in the way our country deals with catastrophic emergency. To examine this process, several components of the process must be explored. First, the strategic plans that were in place must be analyzed. The flow of communications must be evaluated. The question of how agencies reacted must be answered. The implications of whether a top-down approach or a bottom-up approach to emergency response must be considered. Finally, Recommendations regarding public sector and government agencies and their preparations for the management of critical incidents must be examined.
Beginning with an analysis of the strategic plan in response to the 9/11 attacks, it can be seen the the “overall” strategic plan was a paper tiger. “After the first World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings, the federal government instituted a number of initiatives intended to identify preparedness issues and appropriate corresponding prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery strategies. The Department of Justice (DOJ) served as a lead agency working with other appropriate federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)” (Fleming, 2009, pp. 168-169). However, these initiatives suffered from the facts on the ground, “Federal attempts to improve capacity for emergency response were also compromised by the fact that the actors who would bear the immediate burden of response...were more agents of state and ( more often) local government” (Roberts, 2006, p.325). In reality, “the last best hope for the community of people working in or visiting the World Trade Center rested not with national policymakers but with private firms and local public servants,especially the first responders:fire,police,emergency medical service,and building safety professionals” (The 9/11 Commission, n.d, p.278.). Local authorities had prepared for critical incidents, but ineffectively. “In July 2001, Mayor Giuliani updated a directive titled 'Direction and Control of Emergencies in the City of New York. 'Its purpose was to eliminate 'potential conflict among responding agencies which may have areas of overlapping expertise and responsibility' “ Nevertheless,the FDNY and NYPD each considered itself operationally autonomous. As of September 11,they were not prepared to comprehensively coordinate their efforts in responding to a major incident. The OEM had not overcome this problem” (The 9/11 Commission, n.d, p.284-285). Compounding the lack of unified command, individual agency preparations were incomplete, “While the Fire Department had a recall procedure for Fire Operations personnel, it had not been activated for more than30 years and personnel received no training in its activation. The Department had no recall procedure for EMS personnel. As a result, the recall was disorganized and ineffective” (McKinsey & Company, n.d, p. 10). In addition, “The Port Authority also sought to prepare civilians better for future emergencies. Deputy fire safety directors conducted fire drills at least twice a year, with advance notice to tenants. 'Fire safety teams' were selected” on each floor (The 9/11 Commission, n.d, p.280). As we move to examining the initial response, and the communications breakdowns, we can see how the planning strategy was incomplete.
The flow of communications was the first breakdown in emergency response. “Throughout the response on September 11, the FDNY and NYPD rarely coordinated command and control functions and rarely exchanged information related to command and control”(McKinsey & Company, n.d., p.9). This was borne out in the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission, which found that the first major breakdown was “a failure of communication at both the macro-level between government
agencies as well as the micro-level with the inability of local emergency response personnel being able to communicate with each other during the time of an emergency.” (Penn, 2007, pp. 83-84). A review of FDNY oral histories shows that:
-The systematic use of information to control, deploy, and coordinate resources is essential in an emergency. 9/11 showed how communication failures and information handling breakdowns can complicate emergency responses.
-In extreme emergencies, communications go down, command structures are disrupted, chains of command are ineffective or broken, information arrives to groups or individuals on the scene in a piecemeal and sometimes confusing fashion, and these first-liner responders react and improvise, interpreting the information at hand as best they can
-FDNY officers operated in something approaching an information vacuum — they lacked reliable intelligence, could not see media reports that people across the nation were seeing, and could not get aerial video coverage or verbal reports from police and other helicopters on the condition of the towers. (Dearstyne, 2007, pp.30-3)
Despite the breakdown of communications and control, local agencies responded with personal heroism. At first, agencies were able to hold to procedure. “The FDNY’s First Battalion Chief witnessed the first crash from a nearby street and was the first arriving chief officer on the scene. In accordance with FDNY protocols, he established an Incident Command Post in the lobby of World Trade Center”(McKinsey & Company, n.d, p. 5). But the breakdown in communications was compounded by the location of emergency coordinators. “The OEM’s headquarters was located at 7 WTC. Some questioned locating it both so close to a previous terrorist target and on the 23rd floor of a building (difficult to access should elevators become inoperable).There was no backup site” (The 9/11 Commission, n.d, p.284). The FDNY system of command was devastated by the collapse of the Towers:
Chief officers at the World Trade Center scene kept track of the location and assignment of units, but they had no way of backing-up their records. For example, the FDNY Field Communications Unit was responsible for tracking the assignment of Fire units to different alarms, towers, and staging areas. This unit worked next to the Incident Command Post and kept records on a magnetic command board, using small magnets placed on a diagram to indicate unit locations. Chief officers at the Operations Posts in the two towers also used magnetic command boards to track the units assigned to their buildings. These boards and the records they kept were destroyed when the towers collapsed (McKinsey & Company, n.d, p. 11).
Other failures in the response to the incident were based on the failure to plan. “The FDNY requested and received mutual aid from Nassau and Westchester counties on September 11. However the Department had no process for evaluating the need for mutual aid, nor any formal methods of requesting that aid or managing it” (McKinsey & Company, n.d, p. 10). Other breakdowns in communications became apparent in the evacuation of the Towers. The 9/11 Commission describes a situation in which the “The deputy fire safety director in the lobby... initially gave announcements to those floors that had generated computerized alarms,advising those tenants to descend to points of
safety—...and to wait there for further instructions....But the first FDNY chiefs to arrive in the lobby were advised by the Port Authority fire safety director...that the full building evacuation announcement had been made within one minute of the building being hit” (The 9/11 Commission, n.d, p.286), Finally, first responders had to deal with the uncertainty of the situation. “firefighters became engaged in activities they usually do not do: 'busting up and hauling concrete,' scrambling over a rubble pile, and removing victims and decayed bodies and body parts” (Jackson, 2002, p.xi).
It is in this uncertainty that the local responders truly shone though. Individual acts of leadership and initiative demonstrated the utility of a bottom-up approach in emergency response. Although Jackson contends that “The most critical need for site management is a coherent command authority” (2002, p.xiii) and Hood reinforces this argument from from the hierarchist perspective, “the lessons to be learnt include the need to clarify lines of command and communication” (2005, p.392), it can be seen in contrast that “bureaucracies are acknowledged to have many distinctive weaknesses – such as an inability to execute routines quickly” (Roberts, 2006, p.314), and this was the case of the day:
the number of FDNY personnel en route to or present at the scene was far greater than the commanding chiefs at the scene had requested. Five factors account for this disparity. First,while the second fifth alarm had called for 20 engine and 8 ladder companies,in fact 23 engine and 13 ladder companies were dispatched. Second,several other units self-dispatched. Third, because the attacks came so close to the 9:00 shift change,many firefighters just going off duty were given permission by company officers to “ride heavy” and became part of those on-duty teams,under the leadership of that unit’s officer.(The 9/11 Commission, n.d, p.297)
Walker asserts that to prepare for the future, “the nation's “tragedy reinforces the need for America to learn from the past” (2002, p.97). The nation's priorities were changed as a result of the attacks. “local preparations for disasters of all types and on all scales have been given the
highest priority, and guarding against terrorist acts, in particular, is recognized as a critical need”(The United States Conference of Mayors, 2001, p.1), FEMA concluded that “The most prevalent themes for improving community responses to terrorism and other catastrophic events that emerge from the review of key recommendations” were; Command and Control,Communications, and Training and Exercises. Other cross cutting themes identified by FEMA included; Coordination, Mutual Aid, and Strategic Planning. (Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2002, p.5). The importance of communications is stressed throughout incident reviews.“Emergency responders repeatedly stressed the importance of having timely and reliable health and safety information. 'What kills rescue responders is the unknown' “(Jackson, 2002, p.xii). Bevc et al support the importance of communications. “Information technologies and crisis informatics may vastly increase response efficiency by aiding in the communication and interoperability of responding organisations and the communities impacted”(Bevc, Barlau, & Passanante, 2009, p.19). Overall, however, “it is critical that we have strong and sustained leadership” (Walker, 2002, p.94).
Bevc, C., Barlau, A., & Passanante, N. (2009). Mapping convergence points in the initial emergency response to 9/11. Disasters, 33(4), 786–808. doi:
Dearstyne, B. (2007). The FDNY on 9/11: Information and decision making in crisis. Government Information Quarterly, 24(1), 29–46. doi:10.1111/j.0361-3666.2009.01109.x
Federal Emergency Management Agency. (2002). Summary of post 9/11 reports “lessons learned.” Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://www.hsdl.org/?view&did=448479
Fleming, R. S. (2009). Managerial lessons learned from 9/11/01. Business Renaissance Quarterly, 4(1), 167–177. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/212576264?pq-origsite=summon
Hood, C. (2005). Which organization, Whose theory? The 9/11 Commission Report and organization theory. International Public Management Journal, 8(3), 391–396. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/218868142?pq-origsite=summon
Jackson, B. A. (Ed.). (2002). Protecting emergency responders: lessons learned from terrorist attacks. Santa Monica, Calif: Rand Corporation. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/conf_proceedings/2006/CF176.pdf
McKinsey & Company. (n.d.). FDNY McKinsey report - Increasing the FDNY’s preparedness. Fire Department of New York. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://www.nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/mck_report/toc.shtml
Penn, E. B. (2007). Introduction: Homeland security and criminal justice - five years after 9/11. Criminal Justice Studies, 20(2), 81–89. doi:10.1080/14786010701396814
Roberts, A. (2006). The limits of control: The market state, divided power, and the response to 9/11. International Public Management Journal, 9(3), 313–332. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/218823400?pq-origsite=summon
The 9/11 Commission. (n.d.). The 9/11 Commission report. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/911/report/911Report.pdf
The United States Conference of Mayors. (2001). A national action plan for safety and security in America’s cities. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://www.usmayors.org/pressreleases/documents/ActionPlan_121101.pdf
Walker, D. M. (2002). 9/11: The implications for public-sector management. Public Administration Review, 62(S1), 94–97. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/197172403?pq-origsite=summon
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Challenges and Challenge Mitigation in Emergency Management Strategic Planning
There are two categories of efforts that agencies should adapt to improve their strategic planning process. The first category lies in the types of organizational analysis that are available to use to accomplish the improvement, and the second are the leadership tools that managers must use to ensure that both effective analysis and the changes/corrections identified by that analysis are effectively carried out. Examples of analytic tools are processes such as SWOT, and specific evaluations in the form of training exercises. Hardin suggests that “a SWOT analysis can be helpful to evaluate your current state of readiness for ...other threats including natural disasters” (2015, para. 3). It is also “important that local government organizations and personnel operating within the EOC understand the assessment methodologies available for evaluating and monitoring exercises” (Sinclair, Doyle, Johnston, & Paton, 2012, p. 508) Leadership is required to “champion” change (Bryson, 2011, P. 363), not only the changes, but to ensure the analytic tools are utilized correctly. The strategic management and planning process is a cycle in which each stage of planning and change may require additional analysis, planning, and correction. A major responsibility of management responses is the need to be aware of challenges to the strategic planning process.
The primary challenge that emergency agencies must content with is the availability of resources; “emergency management agencies and programs have not received the political and fiscal support that they should have” (Choi, 2008, p. 3). The next critical challenge is uncertainty. ”there are factors beyond the control of those designing the policy that will impact the extent to which the policy is implemented as well as the policy's performance and output”(Jensen, 2010, p .114). Other challenges include the level of public awareness of emergency response, public expectations of the level of emergency response, a lack of adequate foresight in planing, the resistance of aligned agencies to proper collaboration, and a lack of commitment to the process internally,
The most effective method of addressing these challenges is flexibility, which is a principle of FEMA planning (FEMA, 2007, p. 4). Choi suggests that agencies “should have the following in place prior to attempting implementation: a powerful and effective process sponsor; a strategic planning team; a willingness to be flexible concerning what constitutes a strategic plan; and a willing to construct and consider arguments geared to many different criteria” (2008, p. 6). Collaboration with other agencies is critical in emergency planning. Whichever methods are selected, it is the leaders of the agency that are responsible for selecting and employing those methods. “Organisation leaders are generally given responsibility for overall design of the planning system” (Drago & Clements, 1999, Abstract). It can be asserted that leadership in itself is a method for answering challenges.
External views of the agency are dependent upon agency performance. “The public increasingly expects better public sector leadership before, during, and after catastrophic disasters (emergencies) and extreme events (crises) than it has seen in the past” (Kapucu, Arslan, & Demiroz, 2010, p. 452). Public trust in emergency agencies dropped after the televised debacle of Katrina. The government conducted performance studies “after wide public criticisms on its performance in responding to Hurricane Katrina” (Oh, 2012, p.16). Because public perception of the agency is a factor in obtaining resources through the political process, it can be seen as a specific challenge in long term planning.
Strategic planning is not just a long term endeavor, but an ongoing process. “Federal stakeholders are incorporating these new inputs by developing new operational plans, revising existing plans, and updating training and exercise programs to reflect new organizational structures and responsibilities” (US Department of Homeland Security, 2014, p. 15). The cycle of plan, act, and evaluate requires the use of analytic tools and effective leadership throughout the strategic change process. Flexible leadership is necessary to adapt to the challenges that arise during the process.
Bryson, J. M. (2011). Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement, 4th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved February 19, 2015 from http://digitalbookshelf.southuniversity.edu/books/9781118281161/Root/0
Choi, S. (2008). Emergency management: implications from a strategic management perspective. Journal of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, 5(1), 1–21. Retrieved February 24, 2015 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=i3h&AN=31195725&site=ehost-live&scope=site
FEMA. (2007). Emergency management definition, vision, mission, principles. Retrieved February 24, 2015 from www.training.fema.gov/hiedu/08conf/emergency%20management%20principles%20monograph%20final.doc
Drago, W. A., & Clements, C. (1999). Leadership characteristics and strategic planning. Management Research News, 22(1), 11–18. Retrieved February 19, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/223548645?pq-origsite=summon
Department of Homeland Security. (2014). 2014 National Preparedness Report. Retrieved January 28, 2015 from http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409688068371-d71247cabc52a55de78305a4462d0e1a/2014%20NPR_FINAL_082914_508v11.pdf
Hardin, L. (2015). Using NIMS to improve your emergency response plan. SM4 Safety News. Retrieved February 26, 2015, from http://sm4.global-aero.com/articles/using-nims-to-improve-your-emergency-response-plan/
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
Kapucu, N., Arslan, T., & Demiroz, F. (2010). Collaborative emergency management and national emergency management network. Disaster Prevention and Management, 19(4), 452–468. doi:http://dx.doi.org.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/10.1108/09653561011070376
Oh, N. (2012). Strategic uses of lessons for building collaborative emergency management system: Comparative analysis of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav response systems. Journal of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, 9(1), 1–20. Retrieved February 1, 2015 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=i3h&AN=78277925&site=ehost-live&scope=site
Sinclair, H., Doyle, E. E., Johnston, D. M., & Paton, D. (2012). Assessing emergency management training and exercises. Disaster Prevention and Management, 21(4), 507-521. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09653561211256198