Guidelines set top homeland security investment priorities

Strengthening national information sharing, emergency communications and infrastructure protection are among the eight top priorities that should guide national preparedness investments in the coming years, according to the National Preparedness Guidelines released by the Homeland Security Department this week.

The 51-page document outlines the top priorities intended to synchronize pre-disaster planning, prevention and mitigation activities throughout the nation and to guide federal, state and local spending on equipment, training, planning and exercises. The department currently distributes about $3 billion a year in preparedness funding to state and local agencies.

Federal IT contractors have been active in providing solutions to increase national preparedness in recent years, including setting up and operating DHS' Homeland Security Information Network, offering interoperable communications equipment to first responders and providing IT tools for cybersecurity.

The eight priorities are:
  • Expanding regional collaboration
  • Implementing the National Incident Response System and National Response Plan
  • Implementing the National Infrastructure Protection Plan
  • Strengthening information-sharing and collaboration capabilities
  • Strengthening interoperable and operable communications capabilities
  • Strengthening chemical, biological, nuclear and explosive detection, response and decontamination capabilities
  • Strengthening medical surge and mass prophylaxis capabilities
  • Strengthening citizen capabilities.

The guidelines also are intended to fulfill the goals of Homeland Security Presidential Directive No. 8 and to replace the Interim National Preparedness Goal released in March 2005.

In addition, the national guidelines describe planning tools for national preparedness ? including the 15 National Planning Scenarios outlining a range of natural and man-made threats to be prepared for; the Universal Task List common dictionary defining 1,600 tasks required to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from major disasters and attacks; and the Target Capabilities List of 37 capabilities that ought to be developed within each community.

The planning tools were developed in consultation with hundreds of emergency managers, first responder groups, public officials and other experts. However, they are not being released to the public but to invited individuals only, according to a statement on the DHS Web site.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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