The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Plan for Revitalizing U.S. Civil Defense:

A Review of Three Major Plan Components

NSIAD-84-11: Published: Apr 16, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 16, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the status, costs, and effectiveness of three major components of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) 7-year plan for revitalizing the National Civil Defense Program (NCDP). GAO evaluated the Nuclear Attack Civil Preparedness (NACP), Radiological Defense (RADEF), and Direction and Control components of NCDP, which together compose 74 percent of the estimated cost of NCDP.

NACP is concerned with relocating the population and providing fallout protection after an attack. The 7-year plan requires the development of crisis relocation plans (CRP). GAO found that FEMA has emphasized the development of CRP for areas located near strategic military bases, rather than for urban high risk areas. In addition, several critical NACP segments are inactive and unfunded, and industrial protection programs are not included in the 7-year plan. RADEF is designed to provide information, equipment, and technical advice to protect the population from radiation following a nuclear attack. While FEMA has made progress in the development of radiological instruments, problems remain regarding: (1) the number of instruments necessary; (2) instrument inventories and distribution plans; and (3) radiological defense officer staffing and training. The Direction and Control component of NCDP is concerned with providing information to the public before, during, and after an attack, allocating community resources, and directing evacuation and recovery activities. GAO found that many emergency operating centers (EOC) do not meet FEMA standards and have deficiencies that might render them inoperative during an attack. In addition, under the Broadcast Station Protection Program (BSPP): (1) FEMA program analysis and cost estimates are questionable; and (2) many fully protected stations have facility, operational, and equipment deficiencies that could prevent them from operating effectively after an attack.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should direct FEMA regional officials to review reported RADEF equipment stock levels for accuracy and shortages so that current stock levels can be determined and equipment needs more accurately identified.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should direct FEMA regional officials to review the adequacy of state RADEF equipment distribution plans and exercises so that the ability of the states to use federally funded RADEF equipment can be determined.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should update RADEF guidance and course material so that radiological defense officers can more readily obtain current FEMA policy guidance and receive training that more accurately depicts and prepares them for the conditions likely to be experienced in a nuclear attack.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should develop a central information system for determining the status, location, and training needs of individuals receiving training for RADEF program implementation. Such a system is needed so that FEMA can evaluate the ability of the United States to implement RADEF training and support that would be needed in the event of a nuclear attack, and develop more accurate RADEF program cost estimates and plans.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should reevaluate current estimates regarding the number, location, and types of EOC needed for a national network that more closely reflects CRP requirements, population, existing state and local resources and capabilities, and local participation in civil defense. EOC program cost estimates in the 7-year plan should be revised accordingly and closely coordinated with state and local EOC cost estimates.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should update principal civil defense policy guidance, such as the National Plan, the Emergency Operating Center Development Manual, the Emergency Communications Manual, and BSPP guidance, so that state and local governments can better plan to meet national civil defense objectives. The availability of updated program guidance would also help convince state and local governments of federal commitment to a revitalized civil defense and might encourage more state and local participation in civil defense programs.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should emphasize the completion of detailed state EOC development plans so that the degree of probable local participation and funding of direction and control programs can be more accurately estimated.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A study of the number of BSPP stations needed did not alter the number originally requested. Recent FEMA budgets have provided almost no funds for the BSPP program.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should reevaluate current estimates of the number of BSPP stations needed according to their broadcast area coverage capabilities and adjust BSPP cost estimates accordingly in the FEMA 7-year plan.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA has taken steps to monitor CRP status and encourage CRP updating through agencies and several program review efforts. FEMA does not have the personnel or funds to establish a direct monitoring system.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should direct the FEMA regions to monitor the degree to which local jurisdictions with completed initial CRP are refining CRP and developing the necessary operational procedures and coordination. FEMA could thus better identify CRP implementation problems, better evaluate the extent of local civil defense participation, and direct limited resources to areas where they would be more effectively used.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA actions on this recommendation will likely be modified as a result of a National Security Council reconsideration of the role of civil defense in national security. Ongoing and future GAO work will consider this recommendation and related FEMA actions in the context of new civil defense policy guidance.

    Recommendation: The Director, FEMA, should direct the establishment of an adequate system for collecting data and monitoring the status of civil defense programs and facilities at state and local levels that will ensure program compliance, identify deficiencies, and improve EOC and BSPP planning and cost estimates.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

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