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United States Government Accountability Office: 


Before the Subcommittees on Disaster Recovery and Intergovernmental 
Affairs and Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce 
and the District of Columbia; Senate Homeland Security and 
Governmental Oversight Committee: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 2:30 p.m. EST:
December 07, 2011: 

National Capital Region: 

2010 Strategic Plan is Generally Consistent with Characteristics of 
Effective Strategies: 

Statement of William O. Jenkins, Jr., Director: 
Homeland Security and Justice: 


Chairmen Akaka and Pryor, Ranking Members Johnson and Paul, and 
Members of the Committees: 

I appreciate the opportunity to participate in today's hearing on the 
status of efforts to enhance emergency preparedness in the National 
Capital Region (NCR). The NCR is a partnership among the District of 
Columbia, the State of Maryland, the Commonwealth of Virginia, area 
local governments, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office 
for National Capital Region Coordination (NCRC) within the Federal 
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and nonprofit organizations and 
private sector interests.[Footnote 1] The partnership aims to help the 
region prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover 
from "all-hazards" threats or events. Gridlock and hazardous 
conditions during recent events like the January 26, 2011, snow and 
ice storm and the August 23, 2011, earthquake demonstrate the 
importance of regional communication and coordination in the NCR and 
that challenges remain. Well-crafted and executed operational plans 
are critical for effective response to emergencies, but sound 
strategic planning is also important.[Footnote 2] As I have previously 
testified, a coordinated strategy to establish and monitor the 
achievement of regional goals and priorities is fundamental to 
enhancing emergency preparedness and response capabilities in the NCR. 

We reported on this issue repeatedly from 2004 through 2006, and I 
testified most recently on the NCR's preparedness before the 
Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal 
Workforce and the District of Columbia, Committee on Homeland Security 
and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate, in September 2006. My remarks 
today focus on the extent to which strategic planning for NCR 
preparedness is consistent with characteristics we have previously 
identified as desirable for strategies for complex undertakings, such 
as NCR preparedness. This statement is based on work we recently 
completed for you. To conduct this work, we compared the 2010 
strategic-plan update with six characteristics of an effective 
homeland-security strategy we previously identified.[Footnote 3] We 
reviewed the content of the strategic plan and associated documents--
such as investment plans--but we did not evaluate whether and how well 
NCR has fostered, implemented, and executed coordinated capability 
efforts. We have recently initiated a review of NCR preparedness 
efforts for these subcommittees and expect to issue a report late next 

We conducted this work from November 2011 through December 2011 in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe the 
evidence provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions 
based on our audit objectives. 

In summary, the 2010 NCR strategic plan, when accompanied by its 
supporting documents--investment plans, work plans, and a Performance 
Management Plan--collectively referred to in this statement as the NCR 
strategy, is largely consistent with the six characteristics of a 
strategy that we advocated for complex homeland-security undertakings 
where multiple organizations must act together to achieve goals and 
objectives.[Footnote 4] However, neither the Performance Management 
Plan nor the investment plans have yet been finalized; decisions 
remain regarding how the NCR will conduct future regional risk 
assessments; and it is not clear that NCR has systematic processes in 
place to identify the full range of resources available to support its 
goals.[Footnote 5] Finally, it is important to keep in mind that 
strategies themselves are not endpoints, but rather, starting points. 
As with any strategic planning effort, implementation is the key. The 
ultimate measure of the 2010 NCR strategy's value is how useful it is 
as guidance for policymakers and decisionmakers in allocating 
resources and balancing priorities. 


The NCR is a unique regional partnership, in that it is the only 
region that has a statutorily created and federally funded office 
devoted solely to supporting coordination and cooperation within the 
region. Appendix I provides more information about the region and the 
organizations responsible for supporting preparedness coordination. 

We have reported in the past on preparedness efforts for the NCR. Our 
past work for Congress has tracked the evolution and development of 
increasingly effective efforts to develop a coordinated NCR 
preparedness strategy, along with some opportunities for continuing 
improvement in strategy-related efforts. See appendix II for more 
information about our past NCR work. 

The 2010 NCR Strategy Is Largely Consistent with Desirable 
Characteristics for Effective Strategies: 

We have previously identified six characteristics of effective 
strategies that could be applied to the NCR.[Footnote 6] We noted that 
these six characteristics would help to enable its implementers to 
effectively shape policies, programs, priorities, resource 
allocations, and standards and enable relevant stakeholders to achieve 
intended results. These characteristics call for strategies to include 
(1) purpose, scope, and methodology; (2) problem definition and risk 
assessment; (3) goals, subordinate objectives, activities, and 
performance measures; (4) resources, investments, and risk management; 
(5) organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination; and (6) 
integration and implementation.[Footnote 7] More information about the 
six desirable strategy characteristics and their application to a 
regional preparedness strategy appears in appendix III. 

Purpose, Scope, and Methodology: 

The 2010 NCR strategy addresses why the strategy was produced, the 
scope of its coverage, and the process by which it was developed. The 
introduction to the plan specifies that it was produced to help 
identify the capabilities needed to strengthen the region's homeland 
security efforts and to define the framework for achieving those 
capabilities. The scope of the plan, as outlined in the introduction, 
is strategic investment in new and existing capabilities to help all 
localities in the NCR prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond 
to, and recover from all-hazards threats and events. Specifically, the 
plan's goals and objectives are designed to build new and expanded 
capabilities and to ensure maintenance of previous investments. 
Additionally, the aim of these capabilities, according to the plan, is 
to help support the localities in the NCR as they execute their 
operational plans in all phases of homeland security. The plan's 
methodology appendix specifies that the effort to produce the 2010 
plan started with an NCR partner-led assessment of progress under the 
2006 NCR Strategic Plan and stakeholder recommendations on how best to 
update the goals to reflect current priorities of the NCR.[Footnote 8] 
As part of this effort, subject-matter experts identified priority 
capabilities from the 2010 UASI Investment Justifications that serve 
as the foundation for the plan's goals and objectives.[Footnote 9] 
Additionally, the appendix outlines how the NCR partners (1) accounted 
for legislative, policy, and economic factors; (2) facilitated 
stakeholder engagement; (3) drew on capabilities-based analysis to 
identify priorities; and (4) designed capability initiatives to be 
specific and measurable. 

Problem Definition and Risk Assessment: 

The 2010 NCR strategy generally addresses the particular problems and 
threats the strategy is directed towards, and the NCR has undertaken 
efforts to assess threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences. In our 
September 2006 statement on NCR strategic planning, we noted that an 
ongoing risk-assessment methodology is important to help ensure 
identification of emerging risks. It is not clear from the strategy 
how the NCR plans to update risk information, but according to 
responsible NCR officials, a regional risk assessment will be 
conducted every 2-4 years, and during this fiscal year the NCR will be 
making decisions about the timing and methodology for the next 
regional risk assessment. In addition, the officials said risk 
information can enter prioritization decisions as subject matter 
experts bring to bear their knowledge of critical-infrastructure 
sector-specific risk assessments and lessons learned from regional and 
worldwide incidents. 

The 2010 NCR Strategic Plan includes a profile of the region that 
details how particular social, economic, and critical-infrastructure 
factors in the region serve to increase both the threat and 
consequence components of its profile. For example, the plan's profile 
explains that the NCR has more than 340,000 federal workers; 2,000 
political, social, and humanitarian nonprofit organizations; more than 
20 million tourists per year; 4,000 diplomats at more than 170 
embassies; and some of the most important symbols of national 
sovereignty and democratic heritage. The plan notes that the region 
needs to be prepared for a variety of threats and challenges. The 
region has historically experienced, and in some cases routinely 
experiences, natural events such as ice, snowstorms, and flooding; 
special events such as international summits, inaugurations, and 
parades; and human-caused threats such as terrorist attacks. 

The plan identifies previously conducted risk-assessment efforts that, 
along with other information, helped inform the identification of 
priority goals, objectives, and activities. First, the NCR's Hazard 
Information and Risk Assessment, conducted in 2006, was used to 
identify threats and vulnerabilities and then to consider consequences 
of various incidents. Second, NCRC conducted another assessment--the 
NCR Strategic Hazards Identification Evaluation for Leadership 
Decisions (SHIELD)--in 2008. NCRC developed SHIELD with input from 
federal, state, local, and private-sector partners and in 
collaboration with DHS's Office of Risk Management and Analysis. 
SHIELD's analysis ranks potential critical-infrastructure hazards and 
provides options for risk reduction, with a focus on probable 
scenarios for the region. 

Goals, Subordinate Objectives, Activities, and Performance Measures: 

The 2010 NCR strategy addresses what the strategy is trying to 
achieve, and steps to achieve those results in the next 3 to 5 years; 
however, the Performance Management Plan to help monitor progress 
toward those results is not expected to be finalized until December 
31, 2011. The strategy clearly identifies updated and prioritized 
goals from the previous version of the strategy. Each of these four 
goals is accompanied by supporting objectives, which in turn, are 
supported by more targeted initiatives. According to the strategy, the 
goals, objectives, and initiatives were developed by multiple 
stakeholders, including emergency managers, first responders, health-
care officials, and information-technology specialists, among others, 
and focus on developing and sustaining key capabilities in the region. 
(A full description of the goals, objectives, and initiatives 
identified in the 2010 NCR strategy appears in appendix IV.) 

In our work on desirable strategy characteristics, we reported that 
identification of priorities, milestones, and performance measures can 
aid implementing parties in achieving results in specific timeframes--
and could enable more effective oversight and accountability.[Footnote 
10] The strategy states that a Performance Measurement Plan will guide 
monitoring of the strategy's implementation to evaluate progress in 
achieving its goals and objectives. NCR provided us with a draft copy 
of the Performance Measurement Plan, which is currently under 
development. Our review of this draft showed that the NCR has begun 
efforts to develop measures. While the 2010 plan states that the 
initiatives it defines are intended to be attained during the next 3 
to 5 years, the strategy does not currently communicate specific 
milestones for achieving the plan's objectives and initiatives. 
However, according to NCR officials, with the annual planning and 
implementation cycle beginning in January 2012, they plan to enter 
into a new phase of their strategy efforts, designed to make the 
strategy process more data-driven and project-management focused. 
According to the officials, this phase entails each objective being 
assigned a designated leader, who will be responsible for setting 
milestones and monitoring project plans for achieving his or her 
objective across the region. 

The Performance Measurement Plan template information for each 
initiative includes (1) the strategic goal and objective the 
initiative supports; (2) a scale to track progress toward achieving 
the initiative;[Footnote 11] (3) the initiative's relationship to 
DHS's Target Capabilities List;[Footnote 12] (4) applicable national 
standards; and (5) multiple metrics for each initiative to be tracked 
separately for Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. For example, 
in the draft plan, the NCR initiative to "catalog all critical 
infrastructure and key resources in the NCR and conduct consequence-of-
loss analysis" ties in with three separate DHS Target Capabilities and 
is based on the DHS National Infrastructure Protection Plan's 
definition of Tier-2 Critical Assets.[Footnote 13] It then provides 
five separate metrics to monitor the identification and documentation 
of assets, as well as the completion of consequence and loss analyses. 
A senior official in the NCR said that subject-matter experts are 
currently completing progress reports on the metrics for each of the 
initiatives in the strategy. 

Resources, Investments, and Risk Management: 

The 2010 NCR strategy contains information and processes designed to 
help address what the strategy will cost, the sources and types of 
resources and investments needed, and where resources and investments 
should be targeted based on balancing risk reductions with costs. 
According to the strategic plan, its implementation will be guided by 
investment plans that define the activities required to achieve the 
goals and objectives, and an annual work plan will lay out grant-
funded projects needed to complete the investment plans. We have 
reviewed draft copies of 16 investment plans, which are out for NCR 
partner comment until December 22, 2011. Our review of the draft 
investment plans show that they specify their relationship to the 
strategic objective they are designed to support, but we did not 
evaluate how well the specific content of each investment plan is 
designed to achieve those objectives. 

In our work on desirable strategy characteristics, we reported that, 
ideally, a strategy would identify appropriate mechanisms to allocate 
resources, such as grants, in-kind services, loans, and user fees, 
based on identified needs.[Footnote 14] The strategic plan notes that 
the UASI grant program provides a key source of funding for achieving 
the priority capabilities in the NCR's Strategic Plan. The strategic 
plan's methodology appendix states that the 2010 UASI Investment 
Justifications serve as the foundation for the strategic plan's goals 
and objectives. In previous NCR work, we raised concerns about NCR's 
singular focus on UASI resources.[Footnote 15] The strategic plan 
states that the NCR draws upon federal grant programs outside of those 
provided by DHS, such as public health-related grants from the 
Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Justice. 
However, it is not clear that NCR has a systematic process for 
identifying and allocating funding other than UASI to help achieve 
priority objectives. According to responsible officials, NCR officials 
coordinate with local, state, and federal jurisdictions to help ensure 
UASI investments do not duplicate existing federal, state, and local 
assets. These officials also said the new Management Review Process, 
set to begin in January 2012, is to help with the identification and 
documentation of available resources. 

Similarly, the plan does not identify nonfinancial resources--such as 
Department of Defense (DOD) NORTHCOM or National Guard Bureau 
resources--that potentially could support priority objectives. 
[Footnote 16] The federal government has an array of resources that 
can be made available, at request, to assist state and local response. 
For example, DOD has significant capabilities to augment a federal 
chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive 
(CBRNE) response, like those identified in the strategic plan, and 
also contributes to the organization, training, and equipping of state-
controlled military units focused on consequence management. 

According to the 2010 strategic plan's methodology appendix, the 
region's priorities are informed by risk assessments--specifically 
SHIELD--gap analyses, after-action reports, and other studies. 
According to NCR officials, NCR and its jurisdictions coordinate with 
various DOD organizations to ensure the availability of CBRNE assets. 
Moreover, they said that subject-matter experts also bring their 
knowledge of other resources and capabilities to bear during efforts 
to identify gaps and prioritize resources. However, they acknowledged 
they have not systematically considered how existing federal 
capabilities--like DOD resources--relate to efforts to build the 
capabilities within their priority objectives, but are considering how 
they might further enhance coordination in the future. We will 
continue to monitor this issue as we conduct future work on NCR 

Organizational Roles, Responsibilities, and Coordination: 

The 2010 NCR strategy addresses the roles and responsibilities of the 
various NCR organizations. We previously reported that identifying 
which organizations will implement the strategy, their roles and 
responsibilities, and mechanisms for coordinating their efforts helps 
answer the fundamental question about who is in charge, not only 
during times of crisis, but also during all phases of preparedness 
efforts: prevention, vulnerability reduction, and response and 
recovery. The NCR has responsibility for coordinating information and 
resources from multiple jurisdictions at the federal, state, and local 
levels to ensure that strategic goals are met. 

According to the 2010 NCR strategy, NCR stakeholders have constructed 
the strategy to complement state and local operational plans. 
Operational plans remain the responsibility of state and local 
emergency-management agencies, and state and local emergency-
operations plans describe how each jurisdiction will coordinate its 
response to an event regionally. 

The Governance appendix to the NCR strategic plan details the various 
organizations involved in preparedness for all-hazards disasters in 
the region and their roles and responsibilities. For example, the 
Emergency Preparedness Council is described as the body that provides 
oversight of the Regional Emergency Coordination Plan and the NCR 
Strategic Plan to identify and address gaps in readiness in the NCR, 
among other responsibilities. Additionally, the appendix lays out the 
Regional Emergency Support Function committees for functions most 
frequently used to provide support for disasters and emergencies in 
the region. 

According to the plan, representatives from various sectors work 
together toward building capabilities within each support function and 
the chairs of the committees provide leadership in identifying gaps in 
regional capabilities in the committee's areas of responsibility and 
identify the need for UASI funds or other resources to address those 
gaps. An example of a Regional Emergency Support Function committee is 
the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee which focuses on 
nutrition assistance, animal and plant disease and pest response, food 
safety and security, as well as the safety and well-being of household 

Finally, the appendix highlights the Regional Programmatic Working 
Groups which consist of practitioners, policymakers, and 
representatives from the government, civic, and private sectors. The 
groups serve to fill gaps, coordinate across the Regional Emergency 
Support Function, and provide more focused attention on high-priority 
areas. For example, the Exercise and Training Operations Panel Working 
Group supports training and exercises for all Regional Emergency 
Support Functions. 

Integration and Implementation: 

The 2010 NCR strategy addresses how the plan is intended to integrate 
with the NCR jurisdictions' strategies' goals, objectives, and 
activities and their plans to implement the strategy. An appendix 
dedicated to the plan's alignment with national and state strategic 
plans lays out how the NCR's strategic plan aligns with related 
federal, state, and local strategies, programs and budgets, and 
emergency plans. The appendix states that the aim of the NCR strategic 
plan is to align regional strategic planning efforts with federal, 
state, and local planning efforts by identifying common goals, 
objectives, and initiatives to be implemented by the region. In 
addition, it says the strategic plan provides a framework by which 
state and local entities can plan, resource, and track priority 
homeland security-related programs and budgets. 

Concluding Observations: 

The NCR faces a significant challenge coordinating federal, state, 
local, and regional authorities for domestic preparedness activities. 
Due to the size and complexity of the NCR, coordination with relevant 
jurisdictions may confront challenges related to, among other things, 
different organizational cultures, varying procedures and work 
patterns among organizations, and a lack of communication between 
departments and agencies. A well-defined, comprehensive homeland 
security strategic plan for the NCR is essential for effectively 
coordinating investments in capabilities to address the risks that the 
region faces, and our preliminary observations are that the 2010 
Strategic Plan was comprehensively developed. However, we have 
previously noted that strategies themselves are not endpoints, but 
rather, starting points. As with any strategic planning effort, 
implementation is the key. The ultimate measure of value for a 
strategy is how useful it is as guidance for policymakers and 
decisionmakers in allocating resources and balancing priorities. It 
remains to be seen the extent to which the plan is implemented 
effectively. We will continue to monitor this as part of our ongoing 

Chairmen Akaka and Pryor, Ranking Members Johnson and Paul, and 
Members of the Subcommittee, this completes my prepared statement. I 
would be pleased to respond to any questions that you or other Members 
of the Committee may have at this time. 

Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments: 

For further information about this statement, please contact William 
O. Jenkins, Jr., Director, Homeland Security and Justice Issues, at 
(202) 512-8777 or Contact points for our Offices of 
Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on the last 
page of this statement. In addition to the contact named above, the 
following individuals from GAO's Homeland Security and Justice Team 
also made key contributions to this testimony: Chris Keisling, 
Assistant Director; Kathryn Godfrey, Susana Kuebler, David Lysy, Linda 
Miller, and Tracey King. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: The NCR Region and Organizations: 

National Capital Region: 

The National Capital Region (NCR) is a complex multijurisdictional 
area comprising the District of Columbia and surrounding counties and 
cities in the states of Maryland and Virginia (as shown in figure 1) 
and is home to the federal government, many national landmarks, and 
military installations. In addition to being the headquarters to all 
three branches of the federal government, the NCR receives more than 
20 million tourists each year. The NCR is the fourth-largest U.S. 
metropolitan area in the country and is also close to other densely 
populated areas, including Baltimore and Philadelphia. Those living 
and working in the NCR rely on a variety of critical infrastructure 
and key resources including transportation, energy, and water. The 
transportation system contains the nation's second-largest rail 
transit and fifth-largest bus systems. The intricate network of major 
highways and bridges serve the region's commuters and businesses, and 
the NCR also has two major airports within its borders. These 
attributes both heighten the threat and raise the consequences to the 
region in the instance of human-caused incidents. An incident caused 
by any hazard could result in catastrophic human, political, and 
economic harm to the region, as well as the entire nation. 

Figure 1: National Capital Region Jurisdictions: 

[Refer to PDF for image: area map] 

District of Columbia; 
* Montgomery County; 
* Prince George's County; 
* Arlington County; 
* City of Alexandria; 
* Fairfax County; 
* Loudoun County; 
* Prince William County. 

Source: National Capitol Planning Commission. 

[End of figure] 

Roles and Responsibilities of the NCRC: 

The Homeland Security Act established the Office of National Capital 
Region Coordination (NCRC) within the Department of Homeland Security. 
The NCRC is responsible for overseeing and coordinating federal 
programs for and relationships with state, local, and regional 
authorities in the NCR and for assessing and advocating for the 
resources needed by state, local, and regional authorities in the NCR 
to implement efforts to secure the homeland, among other things. One 
of the NCRC mandates is to coordinate with federal, state, local, and 
regional agencies and the private sector in the NCR to ensure adequate 
planning, information sharing, training, and execution of domestic 
preparedness activities among these agencies and entities. 

NCR Governance Structure and Organizations that Support Preparedness: 

Figure 2, below, depicts the NCR organizational structure. 

Figure 2: NCR Organizational Structure: 

[Refer to PDF for image: organizational structure] 

Top level: 
Senior Policy Group: DC, MD, VA, NCRC. 

Second level, reporting to Senior Policy Group: 
* Emergency Preparedness Council (Assessment & Advisory); 
* CAO Committee: 
- R-ESF/RPWG Committee Chairs. 
Third level, reporting to R-ESF/RPWG Committee Chairs: 
* R-ESF Committees & Working Groups. 
Emergency Preparedness Council (EPC): 
Provides oversight regarding the implementation of the Regional 
Emergency Coordination Plan and the NCR Homeland Security  
Strategic Plan to identify and address gaps in readiness in the NCR. 
The EPC functions as the federally required Urban Area Working Group 
with oversight responsibility for the Urban Area Security Initiative 
process in partnership with the SPG, CAO, and State Administrative 

Regional Emergency Support Function (R-ESF)/Regional Program Work 
Group (RPWG) Committee Chairs:  
R-ESF Chairs are elected by members to lead the R-ESFs for a year and 
are responsible to the CAOs. 
RPWG chairs are selected by the SPG with concurrence of the CAOs and 
lead for RPWG for a year and are responsible to the SPG and CAOs.  

Senior Policy Group (SPG): 

Provides continuing policy and executive-level focus to the NCR's 
homeland security concerns. Membership consists of senior officials 
from Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia, and DHS/FEMA's Office 
of National Capital Region Coordination.  

Regional Emergency Support Function Program Work Groups (RPWG): 
The 16 R-ESFs provide the structure for coordinating regional 
interagency support for a regional preparedness, response, and recover 
from an incident under leadership of CAOs. 
The 4 RPWGs provide the structure for coordination when multiple R-
ESFs need to come together on a continuing basis to address matters 
for concern for the region. RPWGs are responsible to both the SPG and 

Chief Administrative Officers Committee (CAO): 
Comprised of Chief Administrative Officers, City Managers and 
Administrators, the General Manager of WMATA. The CAOs provide 
leadership for R-ESFs, RPWGs and committees and address regional 
Source: National Capital Region Homeland Security Program. 

[End of figure] 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Our Past Work on NCR and Related Emergency Preparedness 

GAO product: Homeland Security: Management of First Responder Grants 
in the National Capital Region Reflects the Need for Coordinated 
Planning and Performance Goals, GAO-04-433 (Washington, D.C.: May 28, 
Findings and recommendations: NCR faced several challenges organizing 
and implementing efficient and effective regional preparedness 
programs. Among these challenges included the lack of a coordinated 
strategic plan, performance standards, and reliable, centrally sourced 
data on funds available and the purposes for which they were spent. We 
concluded that, without these basic elements, it would be difficult to 
assess first-responder capacities, identify first-responder funding 
priorities, and evaluate the effective use of federal funds to enhance 
first-responder capacities and preparedness. We recommended, for 
example, that the Secretary of Homeland Security (1) work with local 
National Capital Region (NCR) jurisdictions to develop a coordinated 
strategic plan to establish goals and priorities. Department of 
Homeland Security (DHS) generally agreed with our recommendations and 
NCR finalized its first strategic plan in 2006. 

GAO product: Homeland Security: Effective Regional Coordination Can 
Enhance Emergency Preparedness, GAO-04-1009 (Washington, D.C. Sept. 
15, 2004); 
Findings and recommendations: The characteristics of effective 
regional coordination we previously identified were applicable to the 
NCR's efforts to coordinate emergency preparedness. We noted that, if 
implemented as planned and as observed in its early stage, the NCR's 
Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) program would include a 
collaborative regional organization. While we remained concerned that 
the NCR did not include a full array of homeland-security grants in 
its planning, we reported that the NCR's UASI program planned to 
address those issues by identifying non-UASI funding sources and 
collecting information about the funding allocations, expenditures, 
and purposes, as well as data on spending by NCR jurisdiction. NCR is 
currently planning to implement a process to help ensure 
identification of other funding resources. 

GAO product: Homeland Security: Managing First Responder Grants to 
Enhance Emergency Preparedness in the National Capital Region, GAO-05-
889T (Washington, D.C.: July 14, 2005); 
Findings and recommendations: In this statement, we reported on the 
implementation of the recommendations from our May 2004 report. DHS 
was working with the NCR jurisdictions to develop a coordinated 
strategic plan. At that time, we identified the need for NCR to gather 
data regarding the funding available and used for implementing the 
plan and enhancing first-responder capabilities in the NCR--data that 
were not routinely available. We reported that such data would allow 
DHS to implement and monitor the future plan, identify and address 
preparedness gaps, and evaluate the effectiveness of expenditures by 
conducting assessments based on established guidelines and standards. 
We remained concerned that no systematic gap analysis had been 
completed for the region. We noted that the NCR planned to complete an 
effort to use the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) as 
a means of conducting a gap analysis and assess NCR jurisdictions 
against EMAP's national preparedness standards. Since we last 
reported, the District of Columbia has received its EMAP accreditation. 

GAO product: Homeland Security: The Status of Strategic Planning in 
the National Capital Region, GAO-06-559T (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 29, 
Findings and recommendations: At the time of this report, a completed 
NCR strategic plan was not yet available. We identified five areas 
that would be important for the NCR as it completed a strategic plan. 
Specifically, we reported that a well-defined, comprehensive strategic 
plan for the NCR was essential for assuring that the region is 
prepared for the risks it faces and that the NCR could focus on 
strengthening (1) initiatives that will accomplish objectives under 
the NCR strategic goals, (2) performance measures and targets that 
indicate how the initiatives will accomplish identified strategic 
goals, (3) milestones or time frames for initiative accomplishment, 
(4) information on resources and investments for each initiative, and 
(5) organizational roles, responsibilities, and coordination and 
integration and implementation plans. 

GAO product: Homeland Security: Assessment of the National Capital 
Region Strategic Plan, GAO-06-1096T (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 28, 2006); 
Findings and recommendations: We concluded that the 2006 NCR strategic 
plan included all six characteristics we consider desirable for a 
regional homeland-security strategy. To illustrate, the plan includes 
regional priorities and presents the rationale for the goals and 
related objectives and initiatives. However, we noted that the 
substance of the information within these six characteristics could be 
improved to guide decision makers. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: Six Desirable Strategy Characteristics: 

We previously outlined a set of desirable characteristics for 
strategies involving complex endeavors that require coordination and 
collaboration among multiple entities.[Footnote 17] The desirable 
characteristics are presented in table 1, along with a brief 
description and the benefit of each characteristic. 

Table 1: Desirable Characteristics for a Strategic Plan, Their 
Description, and Benefit: 

Characteristic: Purpose, scope, and methodology; 
Description: Addresses why the strategy was produced, the scope of its 
coverage, and the process by which it was developed; 
Benefit: A complete description of the purpose, scope, and methodology 
in a strategy could make the document more useful to the entities it 
is intended to guide, as well as to oversight organizations, such as 

Characteristic: Problem definition and risk assessment; 
Description: Addresses the particular problems and threats the 
strategy is directed towards; 
Benefit: Use of common definitions promotes more effective 
intergovernmental operations and more accurate monitoring of 
expenditures, thereby eliminating problematic concerns. Comprehensive 
assessments of vulnerabilities, including risk assessments, can help 
identify key factors external to an organization that can 
significantly affect that organization's attainment of its goals and 
objectives and can help identify risk potential if such problem areas 
are not effectively addressed. 

Characteristic: Goals, subordinate objectives, activities, and 
performance measures; 
Description: Addresses what the strategy is trying to achieve, steps 
to achieve those results, as well as the priorities, milestones, and 
performance measures to gauge results; 
Benefit: Better identification of priorities, milestones, and 
performance measures can aid implementing entities in achieving 
results in specific time frames--and could enable more effective 
oversight and accountability. 

Characteristic: Resources, investments, and risk management; 
Description: Addresses what the strategy will cost, the sources and 
types of resources and investments needed, and where resources and 
investments should be targeted based on balancing risk reductions with 
Benefit: Guidance on resource, investment, and risk management could 
help implementing entities allocate resources and investments 
according to priorities and constraints, track costs and performance, 
and shift such investments and resources as appropriate. Such guidance 
could also assist organizations in developing more effective programs 
to stimulate desired investments, enhance preparedness, and leverage 
finite resources. 

Characteristic: Organizational roles, responsibilities, and 
Description: Addresses who will be implementing the strategy, what 
their roles will be compared to others, and mechanisms for them to 
coordinate their efforts; 
Benefit: Inclusion of this characteristic in a strategy could be 
useful to organizations and other stakeholders in fostering 
coordination and clarifying specific roles, particularly where there 
is overlap, and thus enhancing both implementation and accountability. 

Characteristic: Integration and implementation; 
Description: Addresses how a strategy relates to other strategies' 
goals, objectives, and activities (horizontal integration), and to 
subordinate levels of government and their plans to implement the 
strategy (vertical integration); 
Benefit: Information on this characteristic in a strategy could build 
on the aforementioned organizational roles and responsibilities--and 
thus further clarify the relationships between various implementing 
entities, both vertically and horizontally. This, in turn, could 
foster effective implementation and accountability. 

Source: GAO. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 

Appendix IV: NCR 2010 Strategic Plan Goals, Objectives, and 

Goal: Ensure Interoperable Communications Capabilities; 
Ensure response partners have the ability to transmit and receive 
voice, data, and video communications: 

Objectives: Ensure response partners can communicate by voice in all 
environments on a day-to-day basis; 
Initiatives: Increase access to voice systems capable of transmitting 
and receiving voice information to and from National Capital Region 
(NCR) response partners. 

Objectives: Ensure response partners can communicate and share 
necessary, appropriate data in all environments and on a day-to-day 
* Develop and maintain secure data communications governed by common 
standards and operating procedures. 
* Share Computer Aided Dispatch data between jurisdictions and other 
related data systems to streamline the process of capturing 911 
information and responding to incidents. 
* Share Geographic Information System data between jurisdictions and 
other related data systems. 

Objectives: Ensure response partners can communicate and share 
necessary, appropriate video information in all environments on a day-
to-day basis; 
Initiatives: Increase access to video systems capable of transmitting 
and receiving video information to and from NCR response partners. 

Goal: Enhance Information Sharing and Situational Awareness; 
Ensure NCR partners share the information needed to make informed and 
timely decisions; take appropriate actions; and communicate accurate, 
timely information with the public: 

Objectives: Ensure the public has all information necessary to make 
appropriate decisions and take protective actions; 
Initiatives: Improve the dissemination of accurate, timely information 
to the public using multiple venues, including social media outlets, 
to ensure that the content of emergency messages and alerts is easily 
accessible and available to the public. 

Objectives: Define, obtain, and share appropriate situational 
information with NCR partners so that they have the necessary 
information to make informed decisions; 
Initiatives: Define essential elements of data and information for 
situational awareness for each discipline and all partners in the NCR. 
Then develop, maintain, and utilize business practices and common 
technical standards for situational awareness in order to make 
informed decisions.[A] 

Objectives: Improve the NCR's ability to collect, analyze, share, and 
integrate intelligence and law enforcement information so that NCR 
partners receive appropriate information; 
* Ensure all NCR fusion centers share information through secure and 
open systems, produce relevant and standardized analytical products, 
and share information in a timely manner with appropriate NCR 
* Ensure NCR partners have the systems, processes, security 
clearances, tools, and procedures to access, gather, and share 
appropriate intelligence, law enforcement, and classified data. 

Goal: Enhance Critical Infrastructure Protection; 
Enhance the protection and resilience of critical infrastructure and 
key resources (CI/KR) in the NCR to reduce their vulnerability to 
disruption from all-hazards events: 

Objectives: Understand and prioritize risks to CI/KR; 
* Catalog all CI/KR in the NCR and conduct consequence-of-loss 
* Conduct a comprehensive risk analysis of the NCR CI/KR, including a 
review of the critical systems upon which they depend and the 
interdependencies of those systems. 
* Develop and implement a plan for sharing CI/KR information among 
public and private entities throughout the NCR. 

Objectives: Reduce vulnerabilities and enhance resiliency of CI/KR; 
* Develop and implement sector vulnerability-reduction plans. 
* Conduct a technology-feasibility assessment and develop a plan for 
technology investments for CI/KR. 
* Develop and implement a cybersecurity plan for NCR critical systems. 

Objectives: Ensure continuity of critical services required during 
emergencies and disaster recovery[C]; 
* Identify key facilities throughout the NCR that require backup 
critical services. 
* Assess facilities' plans for loss of critical services. 

Objectives: Promote broad participation in CI/KR community outreach 
and protection programs; 
* Develop a community-awareness training and education program. 
* Develop a strategy for using CI/KR data to inform law enforcement. 
* Establish a regional business information-sharing committee. 

Objectives: Monitor Critical Infrastructure to provide situational 
awareness and to promote rapid response; 
* Develop and implement a plan for a comprehensive CI/KR monitoring 
* Develop and implement a plan that integrates CI/KR monitoring 
information into response operations. 

Goal: Ensure Development and Maintenance of Regional Core Capabilities; 
Develop and maintain the basic building blocks of preparedness and 
response by ensuring the NCR develops a baseline of capabilities 
including: Mass Casualty, Health Care System Surge, and Mass 
Prophylaxis; Mass Care and Evacuation; Citizen Participation, Alert, 
and Public Information; Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, 
and Explosive Detection and Response; and Planning, Training, and 

Objectives: Increase the Region's capacity for medical surge 
preparedness and response to an all-hazards event to reduce deaths and 
* Ensure that private health care, federal, state, and local public 
health, and EMS programs and providers in the NCR can increase surge 
capacity to respond to mass-casualty incidents and events requiring 
mass prophylaxis. 
* Establish a regional monitoring and response system that allows for 
health and medical-response partners to track patients, hospital bed 
availability, alerts, and EMS/hospital activity in a shared, secure 
* Ensure the ability to track patients from the start of pre-hospital 
care to discharge from the health-care system during both daily 
operations and mass-casualty incidents. 

Objectives: Improve the region's capacity to evacuate and provide mass 
care for the public, including special needs individuals, when 
impacted by an all-hazards event; 
* Develop, coordinate, and integrate local and state evacuation plans 
so that evacuation polices and routes complement each other to ensure 
the NCR's ability to coordinate evacuation across the region. 
* Ensure the NCR's ability to provide sheltering and feeding for the 
first 72 hours following an incident for individuals in the general 
population, persons with special needs, persons with special medical 
needs, and pets. 

Objectives: Strengthen individual, community, and workplace 
preparedness for emergency events through public engagement and 
citizen participation designed to reach the general population and 
special needs citizens in response to and recovery from all-hazards 
* Sustain the NCR's ability to alert and warn residents, businesses, 
and visitors using multiple methods including social media. 
* Bolster recruitment, management, and retention of volunteers through 
Community Emergency Response Team, other citizen corps programs, 
Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster member agencies, the 
Medical Reserve Corps, and registration in Emergency System for 
Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals programs. 
* Ensure post-incident human services and recovery assistance 
throughout the NCR including case management, emergency housing, 
behavioral health, spiritual care, and family reunification. 

Objectives: Ensure the NCR has region-wide capacity to detect, 
respond, and recover in a timely manner from CBRNE events and other 
attacks requiring tactical response and technical rescue; 
* Enhance the NCR's ability to detect chemical, biological, 
radiological, and other types of contamination. 
* Ensure region-wide access to Type 1 hazardous material (HazMat), 
bomb response/Explosive Ordnance Device units, and tactical teams and 
ensure each unit/team is able to respond in a reasonable amount of 
* Ensure all responders in the NCR have access to Personal Protective 
Equipment, equipment, and apparatus that match the identified 
capability needs. 
* Establish a regional monitoring and response system that provides 
health and medical-response partners with central access to 

Objectives: Improve capacity to develop and coordinate plans among all 
NCR partners and ensure the availability of region-wide training and 
exercise programs to strengthen preparedness, response, and recovery 
efforts from all-hazards events; 
* Develop and exercise key regional emergency response and recovery 
* Ensure regional procedures, memoranda of understanding, and mutual-
aid agreements are in place to allow for rapid coordination of 
resources including health assets across jurisdictional boundaries. 
* Develop and update a matrix of training and exercises that meet 
Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program standards needed to 
maintain core regional capabilities. This matrix should address new 
and emerging threats and concerns raised in gap analyses and after-
action reports from events and exercises. 

Source: 2010 National Capital Region Homeland Security Plan. 

[A] Although the specific elements needed for situational awareness 
vary according to the field and area of expertise, the term 
"situational awareness" in the 2010 strategic plan refers to the 
ability to identify, monitor, and process important information, 
understand the interrelatedness of that information and its 
implications, and apply that understanding to make critical decisions 
in the present and near future. For example, if the region is 
threatened by a hurricane, awareness of the status of roads, shelters, 
traffic, available medical resources, power outages, and the like is 
important in making decisions about what type of assistance is needed 
and where it is needed. To coordinate an effective response, NCR 
partners need to share their information and have access to the 
information of others. 

[B] The NCR fusion centers include the Maryland Coordination and 
Analysis Center, the Washington Regional Threat and Analysis Center, 
the NCR Intelligence Center, and the Virginia Fusion Center. A fusion 
center is a physical location where data can be collected from a 
variety of sources, including but not limited to police departments, 
fire departments, health departments, and the private sector. Experts 
analyze the incoming information and create intelligence products, 
which can be used to maximize resources, streamline operations, and 
improve the ability to address all-hazards incidents and threats. 
Fusion centers help to prevent terrorism and criminal activities as 
well as support preparedness for man-made and natural hazards to 
trigger quick and effective response to all-hazards events. 

[C] Critical services are defined as life-sustainment services during 
an emergency and include energy (electric power and gas), water 
supply, transportation, food, and communications. These are all 
supplied routinely by the CI/KR sectors. During a disaster, providing 
critical life-sustaining services ensures that government and private 
health, safety, and emergency services continue, and that plans are in 
place to compensate for losses among interdependent systems. 

[End of table] 

[End of section] 


[1] The Office for National Capital Region Coordination was 
established in the Homeland Security Act. Pub. L. No. 107-296, § 882, 
116 Stat. 2135, 2246-47 (2002). 

[2] According to the 2010 NCR Homeland Security Strategic Plan, 
operational plans are the responsibility of state and local emergency 
management agencies and they are to describe how each jurisdiction 
will coordinate its response to an event regionally. 

[3] See GAO, Combating Terrorism: Evaluation of Selected 
Characteristics in National Strategies Related to Terrorism, 
[hyperlink,] (Washington, 
D.C.: Feb 3, 2004) and Homeland Security: The Status of Strategic 
Planning in the National Capital Region, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 29, 

[4] [hyperlink,] and 
[hyperlink,]. In February 
2004, we identified six characteristics of effective strategies that 
could be applied to the NCR. We noted that these six characteristics 
would help to enable its implementers to effectively shape policies, 
programs, priorities, resource allocations, and standards and enable 
relevant stakeholders to achieve intended results. In our testimony on 
the 2006 NCR Strategic Plan, we elaborated on the desirable 
characteristics of a strategic plan at the regional level based on our 
six characteristics. The six characteristics are: (1) purpose, scope, 
and methodology; (2) problem definition and risk assessment; (3) 
goals, subordinate objectives, activities, and performance measures; 
(4) resources, investments, and risk management; (5) organizational 
roles, responsibilities, and coordination; and (6) integration and 
implementation. For more details, see appendix III. 

[5] The UASI Program provides funding to address the unique planning, 
organization, equipment, training, and exercise needs of high-threat, 
high-density urban areas, and assists them in building an enhanced and 
sustainable capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to, and 
recover from acts of terrorism. 

[6] [hyperlink,]. 

[7] [hyperlink,]. 

[8] NCR partners refers to the region's local, state, regional, and 
federal entities, citizen community groups, private-sector 
organizations, nonprofit organizations, and nongovernmental 

[9] UASI applicants must develop investment justifications that 
demonstrate how proposed projects address gaps and deficiencies in 
current capabilities. 

[10] [hyperlink,]. 

[11] The status scale for the draft Performance Measurement Plan is as 
follows: 0 = No effort underway or recognition of the need; 1 = 
Recognition of the need but no effort or resources to accomplish the 
output; 2 = Initial efforts and resources underway to achieve the 
output; 3 = Moderate progress towards accomplishing the output; 4 = 
Sustained efforts underway and outputs nearly fulfilled; 5 = Output 
achieved and resources devoted to sustain the effort. 

[12] The Target Capabilities List is a national-level, generic model 
of operationally ready capabilities defining all-hazards preparedness. 
It is intended to help jurisdictions assess capabilities, identify 
needs, and inform plans and strategies, taking into account their risk. 

[13] Tier 1 or Tier 2 assets are those that if destroyed or disrupted 
could cause significant casualties, major economic losses, or 
widespread and long-term disruptions to national well-being and 
governance capacity. According to DHS, the overwhelming majority of 
the assets and systems identified through this effort are classified 
as Tier 2. Only a small subset of assets meet the Tier 1 consequence 
threshold--those whose loss or damage could result in major national 
or regional effects similar to the effects of Hurricane Katrina or the 
September 11, 2001, attacks. 

[14] [hyperlink,]. 

[15] GAO, Homeland Security: Effective Regional Coordination Can 
Enhance Emergency Preparedness, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C. Sept. 15, 

[16] NORTHCOM is the unified military command responsible for 
planning, organizing, and executing DOD's homeland defense and federal 
military support to civil authorities' missions within the continental 
United States, Alaska, and U.S. territorial waters. DOD's civil-
support missions include providing support during disasters and 
declared emergencies (both natural and man-made); providing support 
for restoring public health and services and civil order; and 
providing support for national special security events. 

[17] [hyperlink,]. 

[End of section] 

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