National Governors Association issues homeland security emergency management guide
The National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices released its “Governor’s Guide to Emergency Management Volume Two: Homeland Security” on Sept. 19 at the National Press Club in Washington. For an electronic copy of the guide, click here.
The guide is intended to serve as a reference for the 55 U.S. state and territorial governors and their staffs with respect to homeland security. In addition to outlining state-focused homeland security information, policies and procedures, the guide addresses the governors’ national priorities as they were outlined in NGA’s August 2002 “States’ Homeland Security Priorities” Issue Brief.
“The past year has demonstrated that homeland security is a complex challenge that demands significant investment and collaboration among local, state and federal governments—and integration with the private sector. With the development of this guide, governors will have a comprehensive tool to use as they continue to develop new state homeland security measures,” a statement from NGA reads.
The guide addresses state structure and how to set up a homeland security team, including the development of state plans, emergency powers of the governor, role of the National Guard, how to establish continuity of operations and alert systems, and how to communicate with the public during a crisis.
In addition to management and structural issues, the guide discusses each potential terrorist threat at length—biological, agro, chemical, nuclear, radiological, and cyber. Chapters provide governors with detailed background information and checklists for each of these potential threats, identify federal resources and model response plans, and discuss how to prepare responses to these threats. Although the guide includes information on federal assets, it was written with participation from state homeland security directors and is focused primarily on state response capabilities.
“In the days after Sept. 11, 2001, America’s governors were called upon to immediately secure our airports and borders, protect our critical infrastructure, examine our public heath systems and assess our readiness to respond to further attacks,” said NGA Chairman Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton. “Governors have worked hard during the past year to develop homeland security strategies for our states in conjunction with the Administration’s efforts to design a national strategy, but it is important to remember what governors have been saying since Sept. 11, 2001: ‘homeland security begins with hometown security.’ “
The NGA’s statement said that, even before the events of Sept. 11, 2001, governors had identified terrorism as a clear and present domestic security concern. NGA said that since 1996, the issue has been part of the governors’ association’s emergency management efforts. But NGA said that the magnitude and nature of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the subsequent anthrax crisis, and continuing national alerts have led governors to initiate unprecedented efforts to design and implement comprehensive state-based strategies to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks.
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of this new guide,” said NGA Vice Chairman Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. “With so many open seats, there will be a number of new governors next year—men and women who have to be prepared to deal with a terrorist attack from the moment they step into office. NGA will provide every new governor with a copy of this guide within two weeks of their election. The NGA Center for Best Practices will work one-on-one with these new governors to help them prepare to take on these responsibilities, which have now risen to the top of every governor’s agenda.”
NGA, founded in 1908, is the instrument through which the nation’s governors collectively influence the development and implementation of national policy and apply creative leadership to state issues. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. The NGA Center for Best Practices helps governors and their policy advisors develop and implement innovative solutions to governance and policy challenges facing them in their states. The Center provides tailored technical assistance, tracks and evaluates state innovations and best practices, and helps governors and their staffs develop cutting-edge solutions to stay ahead of problems.