Washington, D.C. - As part of its ongoing effort to ensure states are prepared to respond to terrorist attacks and natural disasters, the nation's governors have announced a major step to enhance readiness and help keep America safe and secure. The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) has created the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council as a forum to bring together the 55 advisors appointed by the governors of each state and territory to share common concerns and develop strategies for managing homeland security threats.
"The nation's state homeland security advisors are charged with the critical mission of protecting the residents of their state 365 days a year. These men and women are on the front lines every day and have a wealth of expertise and knowledge that should be part of any national dialogue about America's security," said NGA Chairman Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. "This council is a unique opportunity for states to have a unified voice in the ongoing dialogue about how best to prevent and address homeland security and disaster concerns."
As state homeland security organizations are relatively new entities, NGA envisions the council being a forum for discussion, setting priorities and planning action to combat domestic threats at all levels of government. Objectives include:
- Improving cross-state and regional communications;
- Assisting communications between state and federal agencies;
- Identifying and setting priorities;
- Developing a unified state and territorial voice to inform governors of the impacts of federal homeland security legislation, regulations and policies on the states; and
- Informing the work of the NGA Center by sharing ideas and best practices, identifying emerging issues and reviewing and analyzing the impact of federal homeland security activities.
"Planning and coordination at the local, state and federal levels are the keys to ensuring we are prepared to protect America," said NGA Vice Chair Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. "Governors learn from their colleagues at NGA meetings and believe the council will be an excellent forum for state homeland security directors to share best practices and collaborate on issues of concern to all states."
The council was created to address needs identified in the second annual NGA Center survey of state and territorial homeland security directors. The survey responses, which were compiled in an April 2006 issue brief, detailed the challenges states face related to terrorism, natural disasters and developing threats such as pandemic influenza.
The council, an advisory organization to NGA, will be led by a bipartisan, eight-member executive committee. Four members of the executive committee will be chosen by NGA leadership; the remaining four members will be chosen by the council membership at large. Members of the executive committee will elect a chair and vice chair whose governors' party affiliation will correspond to those of the chair and vice chair of NGA. The council will meet twice yearly-once in Washington, DC and once in a state-and conduct regular conference calls and host online forums.