Washington, D.C. – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reviewed coordination practices in various metropolitan areas to find regional programs with lessons-learned that could be applied in the National Capital Region and elsewhere. After recently completing this study, the GAO released a report on 15 September entitled “Homeland Security: Effective Regional Coordination Can Enhance Emergency Preparedness.” To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, visit http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-04-1009.
Although the GAO report focused primarily on urban areas, it acknowledged that “the threat of terror is regionwide, and resources for responding to that threat are distributed among many jurisdictions.” While recognizing the complexity and significant challenges to multijurisdictional organization and preparation, the GAO, nevertheless, concluded that “the most effective responses are coordinated and planned across the region, rather than being jurisdiction-specific.” The benefits of regional coordination are assured for emergency preparedness; however, the EMR-ISAC submits that there can be advantages for critical infrastructure protection (CIP) as well. Multijurisdictional efforts to protect local and regional critical infrastructures (i.e., personnel, physical assets, and communication/cyber systems) will enhance survivability, continuity of operations and mission success of participating communities and their first responders.
The GAO study disclosed that several factors characterize effective regional coordination:
- Regional organizations that include representation from many different jurisdictions and diverse stakeholders serve as structured forums for these parties to discuss public policy problems and agree on possible solutions.
- Where regional collaboration is encouraged by the leadership and political traditions of state, regional, and local entities, flexibility for regional organizations to establish their membership requirements and collaborative processes is important.
- Strategic plans developed by regional organizations can be effective tools to focus resources and efforts to address problems.
Firmly accepting the favorable outcomes of regional coordination, the EMR-ISAC encourages the emergency services leadership in all urban, suburban, and rural areas to consider and promote the formulation of a Regional Preparedness Planning Group (RPPG) and preparation of a Regional Emergency Operations Plan (REOP). An active RPPG and a quality REOP will substantially bolster emergency preparedness and CIP in the geographic regions where they exist.