The Federal Government Is Still Not Adequately Prepared To Respond to Major Electrical Emergencies

EMD-82-125: Published: Sep 13, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined certain key issues concerning the Federal Government's ability to respond to a major electrical power emergency.

Although the Department of Energy (DOE) has taken some steps to revitalize its emergency program, GAO believes that DOE could have done much more. DOE still has not developed its electric emergency handbook nor developed or conducted any training programs. The vulnerability study currently being developed by DOE is not a comprehensive planning effort with established specific goals and associated target dates. GAO previously reported that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was not active in emergency policy direction and coordination. Currently, FEMA seems to be playing a mixed role. It has been active in encouraging DOE to act in the area of civilian emergency preparedness, but it has not been active in promoting the development of the Emergency Electric Power Executive Reserve (EEPER) Program and has not actively monitored the DOE actions in this area. Without strong Federal involvement in electrical emergency preparedness, it may be difficult to manage and restore electric power if a major disruption occurs, because States will not be able to deal with such an incident in an effective and timely manner. Thus, GAO believes that DOE and FEMA should implement its previous recommendations. DOE should develop an electric emergency preparedness program and national/regional plans which give the utility industry guidance and assistance in setting priorities for power use and restoration. FEMA should monitor the DOE efforts to revitalize the EEPER Program; review DOE progress; and actively assist, support, and coordinate DOE efforts.

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