Vance Taylor

Jul 16, 2009

Last year the Department of Homeland Security asked the President’s private sector advisors on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) to examine the following question: What impedes the nation’s ability to respond and recover from a major disaster resulting in the prolonged loss of infrastructure service?  On Tuesday, the Department and the President received their answer.

In the report entitled “Frameworks for Dealing with Disasters and Related Interdependencies,” the NIAC identifies areas that impede private sector and local/state government recovery of critical infrastructures and impediments to the deployment of needed federal resources.  Their recommendations to overcome, or eliminate, obstacles to recovery include:

•    Involve the private sector.  Provide them with a seat at the Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs), include them on the front end of disaster response-related exercises, and share information such as best practices/lessons learned;

•    Prioritize water services.  Ensure that appropriate attention and resources are provided to the water sector by creating a water-specific Emergency Support Function (ESF) within the National Response Framework.  Virtually every sector needs water services restored before they can return to normal operations;

•    Cut through the red tape.  Put mechanisms in place to waive timely or burdensome obstacles such as Environmental Impact Statements, revise the Stafford Act to include all-hazards, and refine information sharing during multi-jurisdictional disasters.

Approved by a unanimous vote within the council, the report now moves to the White House for the President to review.  Given today’s risk landscape, let’s hope he’s a fast reader…


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