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  4. Written testimony of FEMA for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emergency Management hearing titled “Are We Prepared? Measuring the Impact of Preparedness Grants Since 9/11”

Written testimony of FEMA Protection and National Preparedness Deputy Administrator Tim Manning for a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia hearing titled “Are We Prepared? Measuring the Impact of Preparedness Grants Since 9/11”

Release Date: June 25, 2013

342 Dirksen Senate Office Building


Chairman Begich, Ranking Member Paul, and Members of the Subcommittee: Good morning. I am Timothy Manning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness. On behalf of Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Fugate, thank you for the opportunity to appear today.

As you know, FEMA’s preparedness grant programs have contributed significantly to the overall security and preparedness of the Nation. We are more secure and better prepared to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the full range of threats and hazards the Nation faces than we have been at any time in our history. We plan better, organize better, equip better, train better, and exercise better, resulting in improved national preparedness and resilience.

Much of this progress has come from leadership at the State and local levels, fueled by FEMA’s grant programs. Over the past ten years, Congress, through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has provided State, territorial, local, and tribal governments with more than $36 billion. We have built and enhanced capabilities by acquiring needed equipment, funding training opportunities, developing preparedness and response plans, exercising and building relationships across city, county, and State lines. Although Federal funds represent just a fraction of what has been spent on homeland security across the Nation overall, these funds have changed the culture of preparedness in the United States. Response and recovery efforts from last year’s Hurricane Sandy and the recent tragedy in Boston bear witness to the improved capabilities that preparedness grants have supported.

We are beginning to measure the effectiveness of the grant funding in several ways. First, FEMA has established measurable goals and objectives through the National Preparedness Goal and National Preparedness System that enable us to systematically measure improvements in first responder capabilities and state-wide preparedness. FEMA established the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment, (THIRA) to provide a common approach for identifying and assessing risks, documenting their associated impacts, and setting capability targets. It creates an integrated risk picture through a five-step process that identifies threats and hazards; details their consequences; examines the core capabilities needed by States, territories, and urban areas; sets capability targets; and applies the results to products like the State Preparedness Report (SPR).

Because grantees must link grant investments to capability gaps or requirements or gaps they have identified for the 31 core capabilities as part of the THIRA and SPR, we can measure grantees’ implementation of the System and annual progress in meeting the goals they have established for each of the 31 core capabilities defined in the National Preparedness Goal.

Measuring Preparedness Grants: The National Preparedness System

In March 2011, President Obama signed Presidential Policy Directive 8 on National Preparedness, directing the development of a National Preparedness Goal. Plainly stated, the National Preparedness Goal, developed through a collaborative process including all levels of government, the private sector and the general public, envisions a secure and resilient Nation with the capabilities required across the whole community to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risk.

The National Preparedness System (NPS) is the instrument that the Nation employs to build, sustain, and deliver the core capabilities in order to achieve the National Preparedness Goal. FEMA requires grantees to implement the NPS and establish a Whole Community approach to homeland security and emergency management. To support building, sustaining, and delivering these core capabilities, grantees use the components of the NPS: identify and assess the risks we face; estimate capability requirements to meet those risks; build and sustain capabilities; plan to deliver capabilities; validate those capabilities through exercises and real world incidents; and then review and update our capabilities and plans. FEMA is tracking grantees’ progress implementing the components of the NPS and their progress closing capability gaps.

In 2012, FEMA released a consistent methodology for determining risks through its Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 201: Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) Guide. Diverging from past efforts to establish measures and metrics for a capability that would be applied uniformly across all jurisdictions, this approach allows a jurisdiction to establish its own capability targets based on the risks it faces. Once each jurisdiction has determined capability targets through the THIRA process, the jurisdiction estimates its current capability levels against those targets in its State Preparedness Report (SPR). The THIRA and SPR processes are scalable to encourage sub-jurisdictions and sub-grantees to provide input to the State or territory. The THIRA and SPR results highlight gaps in capability, which gives FEMA a basis to measure grantees’ progress in closing those gaps over time. On December 31, 2012, States and territories submitted their THIRA and SPR to FEMA. The summary results are published in the annual National Preparedness Report.

The next component of the National Preparedness System is to build and sustain critical capabilities. This step ties grant investments directly to needs and shortfalls. In State grant application Investment Justifications, grantees must address the capability gaps and requirements documented in their SPR that the investment intends to address. In addition, the grantee must identify the specific outcomes that the investment will yield.

In FY 2012, DHS preparedness grants required grantees to belong to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) and to ensure that grant-funded capabilities are deployable outside of their community to support regional and national efforts. EMAC offers assistance during an incident by allowing States to send personnel, equipment, and commodities to help disaster relief efforts in other States.

In addition, grant recipients report their use of grant funds to build or sustain shareable, standardized, typed resources. Standardized resources promote collaboration during emergency response and recovery operations, as their well-defined capabilities and components make them easier to integrate with other jurisdictions’ resources.

The next step in the National Preparedness System is planning to deliver capabilities. Grantees are required to review and update their Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) every two years and to incorporate the latest FEMA guidance in their plans. In November 2010, FEMA published CPG 101: Developing and Maintaining Emergency Operations Plans, Version 2 (CPG 101 v.2), to assist in making the planning process consistent across all phases of emergency management and for all homeland security mission areas. Grantees are required to submit to FEMA an annual assessment of their progress in developing and/or updating their EOP that reflects this planning guidance. Nearly two-thirds of grantees reported having revised their existing EOPs to align with CPG 101 v.2. Nearly a quarter of grantees reported having exercised their EOP in alignment with CPG 101 v.2.

Equally important is the next step of validating capabilities through real-world incidents, exercises, and assessments. FEMA requires grantees through the Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) Program to exercise their EOP regularly. Grantees also assess all 31 core capabilities annually in the SPR and identify whether exercises and real-world incidents have sufficiently prepared them to meet the capability targets in their THIRA. FEMA also works with grantees to develop case studies detailing how capabilities supported through grant investments are used in real-world incidents, as highlighted in the NPR.

National Preparedness Report

The National Preparedness Report (NPR) examines preparedness improvements across the Nation. The first NPR, released last year, included specific accomplishments in the context of the core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal. While the inaugural 2012 NPR highlighted preparedness accomplishments in the decade following the September 11, 2001 attacks, the 2013 NPR – recently transmitted to this Committee – focuses primarily on accomplishments either achieved or reported on during 2012.

In total, the 2013 NPR identifies 65 key findings. Several of these findings focus on overarching national trends and highlight areas of national strength, areas for improvement, and issues that cut across multiple capabilities and mission areas.

The 2013 NPR found that the Nation continues to make progress building preparedness in key areas, including planning, operational coordination, intelligence and information sharing, and operational communications – each of these was identified as an area of strength in the 2012 NPR. Hurricane Sandy highlighted strengths in the Nation’s ability to respond and recover from disasters. Federal partners supplemented State and local resources through established response and recovery support functions, and whole community partners provided valuable support to survivors.

The Nation also made progress in addressing the areas for improvement identified in last year’s NPR, including: cybersecurity; recovery-focused core capabilities like economic recovery, protection of natural and cultural resources; housing; and integration of individuals with disabilities and access and functional needs.

This year, FEMA established criteria to identify areas for national improvement using State preparedness data, exercise information, and linkages to long-term drivers of emergency management. The 2013 NPR identifies two new areas for improvement using this repeatable methodology: infrastructure systems and public and private partnerships. Over time, it is expected the NPR will also identify new areas for improvement and remove areas that are effectively addressed.

The strengths and areas for improvement in the NPR will be used to inform planning efforts, focus priorities for Federal grants, and enable informed collaboration among stakeholders working together to improve the nation’s preparedness.

Hurricane Sandy

Our investments paid off before and after Hurricane Sandy, with our Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant program funding supporting regional response teams, training programs, interoperable communications, and plans development. New York City’s success in responding to Hurricane Sandy stems in part from grant-funded investments in personnel and supplies, as well as community outreach and warning systems.

New York City used UASI-funds to develop and train the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) Incident Management Team (IMT). The FDNY IMT was activated for Hurricane Sandy operations on October 28. The IMT successfully managed resource deployment, personnel, finances, and logistics for operations in Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Missions included managing homebound evacuations; providing for fire and life safety; and managing tree removal and dewatering operations. From November 24 to December 29, the team coordinated the logistics of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s support to residents as part of the their home wellness initiative.

In addition, UASI-funded personnel at New York City’s Office of Emergency Management developed and conducted exercises on the City’s evacuation and sheltering plans, which address complex, large-scale operations such as evacuating more than three million residents and sheltering up to 605,000. New York City activated these plans in response to Hurricane Sandy, and involvement in the plan’s development enabled City agencies to hasten recovery efforts like clearing downed trees and removing debris.

New York City also used UASI funds to develop an emergency stockpile of meals, water, and other essential supplies. This stockpile supported the mass care needs of 10,000 people across 71 shelters during and after Hurricane Sandy. During Hurricane Sandy, the City deployed more than 80 percent of the stockpile. In addition, the UASI program has provided roughly $2 million per year to the Ready New York campaign, a city-wide effort to bolster community resilience. In 2012, the campaign supported more than 700 outreach events and distributed over a half million preparedness guidebooks.

New York City used another UASI-supported program, Notify NYC, to better inform City residents during Hurricane Sandy. Using phone calls, emails, text messages, and Twitter, Notify NYC provided nearly 70 warnings and emergency updates about Sandy to a network of over 170,000 subscribers in advance of and after the storm.

The State of New Jersey used Public Safety Interoperability Communications grants to fund construction of a statewide 700 MHz trunked radio communications system, which was one of the biggest public safety communications success stories related to Hurricane Sandy. The New Jersey Office of Information Technology and New Jersey State Police distributed nearly 500 portable radios to local, county, state, and Federal responders to access the system and meet critical communications needs in areas where local communication systems were inoperable. And despite heavy rain and high winds, infrastructure supporting the statewide system suffered only minimal, isolated damage. Out-of-state personnel deployed throughout New Jersey continued to use the system as their primary means of communication until early February 2013.

Boston Marathon Bombing

Similarly, Federal grant programs helped bolster State and local preparedness and response for the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing. In particular, FEMA’s HSGP helped Boston and Massachusetts first responders build, sustain, and deliver capabilities critical to the bombing response.

For example, the Massachusetts State Police used a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) imaging unit purchased with DHS grants funds to search for, locate, and apprehend the surviving bombing suspect. Boston also used UASI funds to train SWAT teams to better integrate bomb technicians into tactical operations, a crucial capability that was demonstrated in the aftermath of the Marathon bombings. In addition, UASI investments helped the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) support bombing-related operations, analysis, and investigations. The Boston Urban Area also has made significant investments in its Operational Communications capabilities through a variety of enhancements, including: the acquisition of radio caches, the establishment of a mutual aid radio network, and the development of a radio channel plan.

Prior to the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston and Massachusetts used Federal grant funds to plan, train, and exercise for improvised explosive device (IED)-related threats and hazards. Boston conducted a Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop (JCTAWS) in 2011 focused on integrating response operations to a complex attack in the Boston metropolitan area. FEMA’s Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program supported Boston and Massachusetts’ efforts to develop key regional plans, including a Regional IED Annex, which established coordinated protocols for response to a significant IED incident. This grant program also supported a tabletop exercise for the Boston region featuring a coordinated IED attack across three states.

Urban Search and Rescue

Investments in state and local capabilities developed nationwide coverage for response to structural collapse. Today, the Nation possesses significantly more capability in the Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) environment than it did ten years ago. Ninety-seven percent of the U.S. population lives within a four-hour drive of a structural collapse team. A recent FEMA tally identified nearly 300 structural collapse/US&R teams; only 55 percent of these teams existed prior to 2001. The national expansion of state and local US&R teams is a direct result of FEMA contributions in grant funding and training. From fiscal year (FY) 2006 to FY 2010, state, local, tribal, and territorial grantees allocated approximately $158 million in preparedness assistance to build and maintain US&R capabilities, which can be deployed to support operations nationally. Meanwhile, in this same period, students completed nearly 33,000 search and rescue-related courses.

In summary, FEMA has provided measurable objectives for grantees through the National Preparedness Goal. The Goal is a guidepost for the entire nation and provides national objectives. The THIRA allows jurisdictions to determine their own desired outcomes/objectives for their jurisdiction, which contributes to achieving the National Preparedness Goal. FEMA is now tracking grantees’ implementation of the National Preparedness System and their progress in sustaining and building capabilities to meet the National Preparedness Goal. These products are maturing and will allow the Nation to look holistically across all capabilities and whole community partners to gauge areas of strength and areas for improvement, and better target grants.

FEMA will also use project-based monitoring as the principal means of measuring project progress. FEMA will continue to follow projects from creation to completion, measuring basic data to assess impact over time, improving accountability, and enhancing FEMA’s ability to identify progress made in preparedness.

In the past several years, FEMA has made significant improvements to its internal operations and in its management and oversight of the HSGP. We also have enhanced our ability to measure the effectiveness of grant dollars on the Nations’ overall preparedness.

Our grant monitoring team continues to strengthen our efforts, ensuring that:

  • Funds are used in accordance with Federal law, regulations and administrative procedures;
  • Funds are utilized to meet the objectives of the grant program as determined by law or grant guidance;
  • Waste, fraud, and abuse of grant funding is identified where it may exist and is eliminated; and
  • Grantees are practicing sound grant management practices and making progress toward program goals.

In FY 2013, FEMA implemented an integrated monitoring plan designed to realize efficiencies and improve information sharing between the financial and programmatic monitoring staff. While financial and programmatic monitoring works hand-in-hand, they entail separate methodologies and processes. Financial monitoring focuses on compliance with statutory, regulatory, and FEMA grant administration requirements. Programmatic monitoring is designed to identify administrative or performance issues that could impede the success of grant objectives, and to target assistance to resolve those issues as early as possible in the grant cycle. The integrated analysis of financial and programmatic monitoring data will increase our ability to identify common issues and challenges and to proactively target assistance to grantees.

Evolving the Grant Program: The National Preparedness Grant Program

As we look to further strengthen our ability to prepare for events, the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget proposes to reform the grant programs and establish a National Preparedness Grant Program (NPGP). Creating this program would create a robust national network of capabilities, eliminate redundancies and make the most of our limited resources, while strengthening our ability to respond to evolving threats across America.

Specifically, the proposed NPGP would consolidate current State and local preparedness grant programs into one overarching program (excluding EMPG and Assistance to Firefighters Grants programs) to enable grantees to collaboratively build and sustain core capabilities towards achieving the National Preparedness Goal.

By removing stovepipes, encouraging collaboration among disciplines and across levels of government, State and local governments would be able to collectively prioritize their needs and allocate increasingly scarce grant dollars where they would have the greatest impact.

Consolidating the existing suite of grant programs will allow the nation to streamline and enhance its preparedness capacity with cross-jurisdictional, multi-purpose, and readily deployable State and local assets that work together as part of a strong national system.

The Program will focus on developing and sustaining the core capabilities–as identified and defined in the National Preparedness Goal–necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from events that pose the greatest risks to the United States.

Implementing the NPGP will also improve the efficiency of the grant programs by eliminating the burden on grantees to meet often redundant mandates from multiple individual grant programs. As the subcommittee is aware, the Redundancy Elimination and Enhanced Performance for Preparedness Grants Act identified the elimination of duplicative mandates as a priority.

This process, and the creation of NPGP, will ensure that grantees have the ability to build and sustain capabilities that can be deployed not just on the local level, but on the regional and national levels as well – creating an interconnected network of local, state, regional and national capabilities to increase the security of the nation. We look forward to working with this Committee toward that end.


We have demonstrated the efficacy of our grant programs through thoughtful analysis. The National Preparedness Goal provides us with a clearly defined target to work toward and we have greatly improved our ability to assess needs and track spending toward meeting those needs.

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss these important issues before the Committee. I am happy to respond to any questions you may have.

Last Updated: 10/06/2022
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