First responders need performance standards

All levels of government need to develop performance standards to measure their ability to prevent and respond to terrorist incidents, a top private sector official said today.

Without such measures, there will continue to be a noticeable discrepancy between government capabilities and public expectations, said George Vradenburg, chairman of the Vradenburg Foundation and a former senior executive with AOL-Time Warner. He also is a member of the Homeland Security Department's Private Sector Senior Advisory Committee.

"There is a mismatch between what the public expects from public safety and an absence of performance standards to measure our accomplishments," he said at the Homeland and Global Security summit in Washington.

Surveys show that many first responders give themselves barely a passing grade in their ability to respond to terrorist incidents, he said.

Vradenburg called on government to set performance standards as well as increase information sharing with the private sector, and improve communications with the public about what to do in emergencies.

"Right now, the public expectation is higher than what we can deliver," Vradenburg said.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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