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  4. Written testimony of FEMA for a House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications hearing titled “Assessing the Nation’s State of Preparedness: A Federal, State, and Local Perspective”

Written testimony of FEMA Protection and National Preparedness Deputy Administrator Timothy Manning for a House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications hearing titled “Assessing the Nation’s State of Preparedness: A Federal, State, and Local Perspective”

Release Date: September 19, 2013

311 Cannon House Office Building


Chairwoman Brooks, Ranking Member Payne, and Members of the Subcommittee: Good morning. I am Timothy Manning, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness at the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). On behalf of Administrator Fugate, it is my pleasure to appear before you today to discuss the Nation’s State of Preparedness.

The Administration remains committed to strengthening the security and resilience of the United States through systematic preparation for the threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation, and 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 an 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, 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 made us more prepared.

In March 2011, President Obama signed Presidential Policy Directive 8 on National Preparedness (PPD-8), which describes the Nation’s approach to national preparedness. PPD-8 aims to strengthen the security and resilience of the United States through the systematic preparation for the threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation, including acts of terrorism, cyber incidents, pandemics, and catastrophic natural disasters. PPD-8 defines five mission areas – prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery – and requires the development of a series of policy and planning documents to explain and guide the Nation’s efforts in helping to ensure and enhance national preparedness.

The body of work established pursuant to PPD-8 creates a system that allows us to understand how well prepared we are by setting a goal, establishing a baseline, setting common and comparable terminology, measuring capability gaps, and assessing our progress toward filling them. PPD-8 creates the National Preparedness System (NPS), a cohesive approach that allows us to use the tools at our disposal in the most effective manner and in a way that allows us to monitor and report on our progress.

National preparedness is the responsibility of the whole community to include all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and individual citizens. Each year, the Nation makes additional advances toward achieving the National Preparedness Goal (NPG) and implementing the NPS.

The National Preparedness Goal

The NPG, released in September 2011, is the cornerstone of PPD-8 and defines a set of 31 distinct core capabilities across the mission areas needed to achieve national preparedness. The NPG, 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

The NPS is the instrument the Nation uses to build, sustain, and deliver the core capabilities to achieve the NPG. Implementation of the NPS uses a whole community approach to homeland security and emergency management that supports building, sustaining, and delivering the core capabilities through identifying and assessing of the risks we face; estimating capability requirements to meet those risks; building and sustaining capabilities; planning to deliver capabilities; validating those capabilities through exercises and real-world incidents; and then reviewing and updating our capabilities and plans.

Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

The foundation of the NPS is identifying and assessing risks. To be truly prepared and to understand our progress toward our goal, we need to know what we are preparing to address and to what level of service. Every community should understand the risks it faces. By understanding its risks, a community can make smart decisions about how to manage risk, including developing needed capabilities. Risk is the potential for an unwanted outcome resulting from an incident, event, or occurrence, as determined by its likelihood and the associated consequences. By considering changes to these elements, a community can understand how to best manage and plan for its greatest risks across the full range of the threats and hazards it faces. The Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process helps communities identify threats and hazards and determine capability targets and resource requirements necessary to address anticipated and unanticipated risks.

The First Edition of the Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG 101) presented the basic steps of the THIRA process. Specifically, the First Edition described a standard process for identifying community-specific threats and hazards and setting capability targets for each core capability identified in the NPG. In August 2013, FEMA refined the THIRA methodology through the release of CPG 201, Second Edition. The Second Edition expands the THIRA process to include an estimation of resources needed to meet the capability targets. The THIRA process now assists communities to answer questions such as, “What are my current and future risks?” and, “What level of service do I need to address my risks?”, and addresses what specific capabilities are needed, such as teams of specialized resources.

The results of the THIRA process will continue to mature. Over the coming years, as FEMA and our partners refine our application of the THIRA through repetitive efforts, the results – capability targets and required resources – will be improved. And today, the THIRA process is providing communities all across the country with a clearer picture of what resources are needed to address their risks and providing a realistic and empirical basis for strategic and operational planning than has ever been possible before.

State Preparedness Report

The THIRA process gives communities their end-state – capability targets based on their own threats and hazards and the resources required to meet those targets. The State Preparedness Report (SPR) measures the rate of change between current baselines and the end-state identified in the THIRA. Once each jurisdiction has determined capability targets through the THIRA process, the jurisdiction estimates its current capability levels against those targets in its SPR. The SPR is an annual self-assessment of state preparedness based on the targets set in the THIRAs. The SPR is submitted by the 56 states and territories to FEMA. The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) requires an SPR from any state or territory receiving Federal preparedness assistance administered by DHS. Developing an effective SPR also requires active involvement from the whole community, and FEMA encourages jurisdictions to seek input from multiple stakeholders when assessing their capabilities.

The THIRA and SPR processes are scalable to encourage sub-jurisdictions and sub-grantees to provide input to the State or territory. The summary results are published in the annual NPR.

The next component of the NPS is to build and sustain 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 the investment will yield.

National Planning Frameworks

The National Planning Frameworks describe how the whole community works together to deliver the core capabilities needed to achieve the NPG as part of a unified and coordinated effort. There is one Framework for each of the five mission areas (prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery). These mission areas represent a continuum of interrelated activities and reflect the relationships and partnerships across the whole community.

The Frameworks document the roles and responsibilities of the whole community in national preparedness, recognizing the value of partnerships and working together.

Each Framework:

  • Summarizes the roles and responsibilities across the whole community;
  • Defines each mission area’s core capabilities, along with key examples of critical tasks;
  • Defines coordinating structures — either new or existing — that enable the whole community to work together to deliver the core capabilities;
  • Describes the relationships to the other mission areas;
  • Identifies relevant information to help with operational planning;
  • Provides information that state, local, tribal, and territorial governments can use to revise their operational plans; and
  • Uses concepts from existing preparedness efforts and doctrine, such as the National Incident Management System.

The Frameworks also affect whole community preparedness reporting and assessments. For example, the Frameworks can assist whole community partners as they complete the THIRA process. The critical tasks described in the Frameworks will help whole community partners understand the activities, which help to deliver capabilities to the established targets, as well as the resources needed conduct the activities and achieve the targets.

The environment in which we operate grows ever more complex and unpredictable. The Frameworks are living documents, and will be regularly reviewed to evaluate consistency with existing and new doctrine, policies, evolving conditions, emerging risks, and the experience gained from their use.

As of today, four of the five frameworks have been published. The National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), which was released in September 2011 and rolled out across the country during the next six months, focuses on how to restore, redevelop, and revitalize the health, social, economic, natural, and environmental fabric of the community and build a more resilient Nation. The updated National Response Framework (NRF), as well as the new National Prevention and National Mitigation Frameworks, were rolled out on May 6, 2013. Each of these frameworks addresses the unique expectations and challenges for each mission area.

The NRF aligns roles and responsibilities across government and the private sector in a unified approach in responding to any threat or hazard.

The National Prevention Framework focuses on addressing the challenges stemming from an imminent terrorist threat.

Fostering a culture of preparedness – centered on risk (present and future) and resilience to natural, technological, and terrorist events – is the focus of the first edition of the National Mitigation Framework. The document provides context for how the whole community works together and how mitigation efforts relate to all other parts of national preparedness.

The Protection Framework is nearing completion. We are working closely with our partners in DHS and across the homeland security and emergency management communities to ensure that the draft Protection Framework aligns with the implementation of Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) and Executive Order (EO) 13636. PPD-21, which replaced HSPD-7, expands, clarifies, and advances the national approach to protecting critical infrastructure pursuant to the strategic guidance of the Secretary of Homeland Security. And EO 13636 directs Federal agencies to use their existing authorities and increase cooperation with the private sector to provide better protection for the computer systems that are critical to our national and economic security. This alignment will ensure that the efforts undertaken under PPD-21 and EO 13636 complement other efforts under way in the prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery mission space.

Federal Interagency Operational Plans (FIOPs)

At the Federal level, each framework is supported by a mission area-specific Federal Interagency Operational Plan. The individual FIOPs describe how the Federal Government delivers core capabilities for each mission area. Each FIOP describes the concept of operations for integrating and synchronizing existing Federal capabilities to support state, local, tribal, territorial, insular area, and Federal plans, and is supported by Federal department-level operational plans, where appropriate. The Prevention, Protection, Mitigation, Response and Recovery FIOPs are under development. The Protection FIOP will follow the release of the Protection Framework.

National Preparedness Report

The National Preparedness Report (NPR) examines preparedness 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 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 to 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. The 2013 NPR also found that the Nation has made some progress in planning to address the long-term challenges posed by climate change and extreme weather, but that this remains an area of focus for preparedness activities nationally.

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 that the NPR will also identify additional 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.

Preparedness in Action

The past year has given FEMA more opportunities than we would like to assess preparedness. Whether it was Hurricane Sandy or the Boston Marathon Bombing, real-world incidents and National Level Exercises have tested our preparedness efforts.

Hurricane Sandy demonstrated that integrating and coordinating with the whole community is a critical part of FEMA’s role in disaster response and recovery efforts, making the Operational Coordination core capability one of the most valuable core capabilities during any incident. These real-world experiences also confirmed that enhancing infrastructure systems is a national area in need of improvement. Stressed infrastructure systems – including water and wastewater treatment, surface transportation, airports, inland waterways, marine ports, electricity infrastructure, and communications and fuel systems – can present obstacles to effective response and recovery operations. Climate change and extreme weather events also expose vulnerabilities in key infrastructure sectors—including transportation and commercial facilities.

The response to the Boston Marathon Bombings was another example of how the Nation’s preparedness activities had a positive effect on response. FEMA has supported twelve exercises directly involving the City of Boston. These have included topics as diverse as chemical or biological attacks, hurricane preparedness, hazardous materials events, cyber incidents, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In 2011, DHS – in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Counterterrorism Center – hosted a Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop that focused on integrating response operations to a complex attack in the Boston metropolitan area. Many participants from the local, state, and Federal community, who participated in these exercises, responded to the bombings.

Oklahoma’s response to the May 20, 2013 tornado that devastated the city of Moore is also indicative of the meaningful impact of FEMA’s homeland security grant funding. Oklahoma’s Regional Response System, developed with the support of FEMA’s grant funds, deployed Technical Rescue Teams to assist with rescue efforts. Ambulance Strike Teams and Mass Emergency Medical Surge Teams also responded, providing care to thousands of survivors.

The responses to Hurricane Sandy, the Oklahoma tornadoes, and the Boston Marathon Bombings demonstrated the security and resilience of the Nation. Our preparedness programs, posture, and investments were critical in each one of those responses, but there is still more – there is always more to do – to improve preparedness. We will continue to work with communities across the country to prepare. All disasters are local, but we’re proud to be there to support communities across America as they prepare for whatever hazard they may face.


The NPS, as envisioned by PPD-8, has contributed to our ability to focus on those areas where gaps exist in order to strengthen public safety and the nation’s security and resilience. Our ability to measure our progress has also improved, and clarity and focus will be brought with the continued implementation of the Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment process. We look forward to working with the Congress and stakeholders as we continue to reduce vulnerabilities the Nation faces. Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I am happy to answer any questions the Subcommittee may have.

Last Updated: 10/06/2022
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