FEMA'S "Event Management"

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The emergency management community may be
facing a potential disruption scenario that
it has not dealt with before: simultaneous
disruptions in all 50 States and 6 Territories
that may require Federal emergency declarations.

FEMA Statement for the Record

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), October 11, 1999


Spider: "We are hoping for the best...". Sounds like they just GI'd!

-- Neil G.Lewis (pnglewis1@yahoo.com), October 11, 1999.

Man if you folks don't quiet down, you're gonna wake Flint.

-- a (a@a.a), October 11, 1999.

Statement for the Record from Lacy E. Suiter, Executive Associate Director, Response and Recovery Directorate, Federal Emergency Management Agency before the Special Committee on the Y2k Technology Problem, United States Senate October 7, 1999

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I am Lacy E. Suiter, Executive Associate Director for Response and Recovery, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). I am pleased to provide this testimony for the Committee's virtual hearing on the Year 2000 (Y2K) transition and consequence management. I spoke with you in October of 1998, and described FEMA's planned efforts to address the potential threat posed by the Y2K technology problem for fire services and emergency management within the United States.

I'd like to provide you with information on the progress we have made in supporting the President's Council on Y2K Conversion, and our anticipated "event management" actions during the actual rollover to the Year 2000.

FEMA'S role in the President's Council on Y2K Conversion

As you know, FEMA has a role as one of 34 sector coordinators supporting the President's Council on Y2K Conversion, chaired by Presidential Advisor, John A. Koskinen. FEMA chairs and coordinates efforts of the Emergency Services Sector (ESS) working group. Primary member agencies include FEMA, the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce (mainly the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration), Defense, Health and Human Services, Interior, and Transportation. The American Red Cross participates as an honorary member. As ESS coordinator, FEMA and the other ESS members are responsible for increasing awareness of emergency services providers throughout the Nation and for encouraging them to assess the readiness of their technology-based systems to support operations before, during, and after the clock rolls over to the year 2000. It is important to clarify that FEMA does not have a role in prevention or response to the causes of computer disruption. FEMA does not have authority or the technical expertise required for those types of missions.

The goal of the ESS is to facilitate efforts to ensure that all members of the nation's emergency services community will be able to operate normally through the Y2K conversion period. The ESS has been providing reports to the President's Council on the readiness of the sector as a whole.

At the Federal level, all of the agencies have been increasing awareness and fostering readiness self-assessments among their stakeholders. These user communities cut broadly across the Nation's infrastructure, involving both the private and the public sector. And the agencies themselves must be ready to cross the year 2000 threshold with high confidence that their own systems will work well. To this end, FEMA and the other Federal agencies report directly to the Office of Management and Budget on a monthly or quarterly basis, regarding the progress being made with their own systems. These documents may be viewed at the following website address: http://www.fema.gov/y2k/y2k-em.htm.

FEMA and its ESS partners have worked continuously and closely with State counterparts over the past year to improve our collective Y2K readiness posture. Readiness of emergency management organizations has continued to improve through increased compliance of Y2K mission-critical systems. Fire Service, "9-1-1", and others in the emergency service provider community made valuable progress during the past year. The ESS members are actively reaching out to their respective constituencies.

FEMA'S Outreach Activities

Since I spoke with this Committee last October, FEMA has increased its efforts to improve preparedness, promote awareness, and increase operational readiness at the State and local level for potential Y2K-related disruptions. To ensure that it will be "business as usual" for providers of emergency services, FEMA has made great strides in the areas of outreach and partnership, training and exercises, and providing grants to the States. Examples of activities and accomplishments follow:

Outreach and partnership

* Continued Y2K outreach activities and participated in numerous conferences and meetings with Federal, State, local, and Tribal government representatives as well as representatives from the private and volunteer sectors, to discuss Y2K emergency preparedness and consequence management.

* Distributed about 56,000 copies of its Y2K contingency and consequence management planning document entitled, "Contingency and Consequence Management Planning for Year 2000 Conversion-A Guide for State and Local Emergency Managers." The document is available in both English and Spanish and is intended to assist State and local emergency management organizations prepare for a smooth Y2K conversion. FEMA also distributed more than 85,000 copies of the Y2K awareness booklet, "Y2K & You: A New Horizon," which was developed as part of the agency's efforts to increase the awareness of FEMA staff on Y2K preparedness issues and to assist them in preparing for the transition to the new millennium. Both documents are available for downloading from the FEMA web site. Almost half a million copies of various Y2K FEMA publications have been distributed.

* Broadcast several full-length and short segment programs on Y2K emergency preparedness over the Agency's Emergency Education Network (http://www.fema.gov/emi/eenet.htm).

* Maintained and updated its Y2K web site; www.fema.gov/y2k, which is accessed almost 100,000 times a month, and posted Y2K exemplary practices.

* Distributed the United States Fire Administration (USFA) fact sheet, "Planning for a Fire-safe Millennium," which addresses safety issues associated with the increased use of generators, alternative heating and lighting, and stockpiling of flammable liquid fuels. USFA continues to distribute its "Y2K: Are You Ready?" newsletter to all fire departments, State fire officials, national fire service organizations, and associated professional organizations; and promotes the Y2K readiness message among the fire service at many conferences. The USFA/Y2K website address can be accessed at http://www.usfa.fema.gov/y2k/. A special edition of the USFA newsletter focused on the Y2K readiness of 911 and fire service organizations. In addition to being distributed to the fire service organizations, the USFA newsletter was distributed to over 5,000 Public Safety Answering Points, also known as 911 centers.

* Initiated a multi-phased plan to raise awareness and assess readiness on the Y2K technology problem. This approach was selected to take greatest advantage of the decentralized and independent structure of the fire services community. In August, FEMA developed a brochure of frequently asked questions and answers regarding Y2K. This brochure has been mailed to each of the approximately 33,000 individual fire departments across the country. The Y2K brochure also directs people to related web sites, including the USFA web site.

* Enlisted the aid of State Fire Marshals in determining local fire service readiness for the Year 2000. Throughout the remainder of this calendar year, Y2K will be featured as an important topic in speeches and conference displays developed for the fire and emergency service community.

* Provided guidance, training, and exercise assistance to State and local governments to help them to prepare for all types of emergencies. FEMA has initiated activities to address the Y2K problem and is pursuing outreach activities with its primary constituents, the State and local governments, through their national organizations, the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM). A main emphasis of this outreach effort is to heighten awareness of State governments, and indirectly of local governments, on the criticality of this issue and to provide Y2K emergency preparedness guidance. FEMA has worked in partnership with NEMA, IAEM, and other organizations over the last year to develop emergency preparedness guidance for the entire emergency preparedness community. This partnership includes the work we have done with NEMA and IAEM to conduct a Y2K readiness assessment of the emergency management community (http://www.nemaweb.org).

* FEMA's Regional Directors have worked with State Emergency Management Directors in their respective regions to support this effort. The personal contacts reinforce the importance of preparedness and compliance at the State level, emphasize the necessity of State outreach to local governments, and help to identify areas where additional specialized assistance is needed.

* The ten FEMA regions continue to work with their State agencies to help communities and businesses prepare for the year 2000 conversion. They have maintained an ambitious and rigorous schedule related to Y2K events and continue to provide briefings, in partnership with the States' offices of emergency management, to their districts, counties and local jurisdictions; attended State and local Y2K workshops; and participated in panel discussions on Y2K. They have participated in workshops with local emergency management officials, the fire community, and IAEM, and other associations. They hold monthly conference calls and conduct on-site meetings with State partners to review outreach activities, and to discuss the States' readiness posture for Y2K. They have sent Y2K materials to regional Indian Tribes and the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Tribal Directors, as well as other private and volunteer sector organizations. Regions continue to utilize Y2K Help Desks to respond to inquiries from the public, State and local governments, and other Federal agencies for FEMA Y2K documents and questions, and provide training sessions on Y2K. Themes of these various activities include, in part, the Y2K problem and the response at the Federal level, individual preparations, and community responsibilities.

* Conducted numerous briefings for international delegations, including officials from Asian, African, European, South American and North American nations, on FEMA's role in Y2K emergency preparedness and consequence management.

Training and exercises

* Convened 10 regional Y2K workshops, attended by more than 1,500 Federal, State, U.S. Territory, and local government representatives. The final report on the workshops was issued and posted on the FEMA web site. The Summary Report provides general findings from the workshops and is organized into four major crosscutting areas: public information; planning; resources and infrastructure; and human services. Recommended actions are provided for each of several subcategories within each crosscutting area.

* Coordinated and partnered with the Department of Defense to develop plans and issues for the Y2K policy seminar for Cabinet-level officials, which was conducted September 18, 1999.

* Posted Internet and CD versions of FEMA's training course, "Getting Ready for Y2K: A Workshop for Emergency Management," on FEMA's web site. The course targets the emergency management community and focuses on how to prepare to meet the Y2K challenge.


* Awarded grants of up to $50,000 for each State and territory to support Y2K public awareness, outreach, and emergency preparedness activities. The funds can be used for education, exercises, training, outreach campaigns, preparedness seminars, conferences, meetings, and to print Y2K materials. The grants may not be used for the purchase or repair of equipment. The purpose of the funding implies that all work will be completed by the end of December.

FEMA'S Responsibility Under the Federal Response Plan

A significant part of our strategy includes ensuring that if preventive measures fail, the signatory agencies to the Federal Response Plan (FRP) are primed and ready to assist State and local governments with response to consequences of a Y2K problem affecting lives, property, and public health and safety. The FRP helps to ensure that emergency assistance is available to State and local governments, to enable them to continue to perform essential community services, such as issuing emergency warnings, disseminating public health and safety information, carrying out health and safety measures, reducing immediate threats to public health and safety, providing temporary housing assistance, and distributing medicine, food, and other goods to meet basic human needs.

Any Federal response to Y2K consequences will be based on the structure and processes in the FRP. However, to address any unique operations over and above the norm, we have developed a special Y2K Operations Supplement to the FRP. The Supplement does not address areas that go beyond the scope of the Stafford Act, such as (1) cyber-terrorism attack, (2) localized civil disturbance, (3) national security emergency, and/or (4) long-term economic recovery.

Our approach to Y2K consequence management includes several planning assumptions. It assumes that (1) no major nationwide catastrophic disruptions are expected, (2) smaller, localized disruptions could occur simultaneously, and (3) responses will be handled at local/State level to the maximum extent possible. Should it become necessary, a Presidential "emergency" rather than a "major disaster" will be declared, and assistance will be focused on addressing threats to life, health, safety, and property.

We will activate monitoring operations through the critical conversion period here in Washington and in our regional operations centers, and to request information technology liaisons with access to FEMA internal and interagency sources of technology support. We may not be able to respond to requests for technology support, but we can use the Federal response system to provide a backup network to ensure that such requests from State and local governments are referred to the appropriate public/private coordination channels that have been established through the efforts of the President's Council on Y2K Conversion.

The FRP interagency group has met throughout the year to coordinate interagency preparedness and response to potential Y2K emergencies. Agencies have reported that the majority of mission-critical facilities and support systems necessary to conduct FRP operations will be functional through the Y2K conversion period. FEMA is doing all that it can, as the lead agency for the FRP, to encourage FRP agencies to work with their partners in the State and local emergency management and fire service communities, to promote awareness and business continuity planning for Y2K.

An interagency Resource Allocation Seminar is scheduled this month to provide expertise to Federal agencies in prioritizing resource requirements, allocating resources, and arbitrating issues in preparation for the Y2K rollover. Participants will respond to a combination of simulated Y2K and multi-hazard events used to generate the simultaneous need for the same types of resources in multiple States. FEMA regional staff and State emergency management officials will observe the seminar proceedings. The seminar will lead to refining resource allocation policies and procedures.

FEMA'S Support of the Information Coordination Center FEMA activities have focused on supporting the Y2K Council's Information Coordination Center (ICC) as it develops an automated Information Collection and Reporting System for providing the status of State, territory, and local jurisdiction operations, as well as critical Federal system and infrastructure system operations following Y2K rollover. The ICC will rely upon FEMA's existing structures and expertise to gather information about system operations for State and local governments. FEMA will expand its present system, which usually receives information on an exception basis where a request for Federal assistance is made, to include regularly updated State reports on the status of their critical infrastructures such as power, telecommunications and health care. In addition, FEMA will serve as the ICC's backup.

The ICC is currently refining reporting templates, formats and accompanying user guidance. FEMA and the Y2K ICC are jointly planning to conduct 10 workshops throughout the U.S. during the fall to provide a hands-on demonstration of the ICC's Information Collection and Reporting System as well as to review Y2K operational readiness of States, regions, and headquarters. This system was successfully field tested recently and will provide the status of critical Federal systems; critical infrastructure systems; and State, local, and Indian Tribal Nation operations following the Y2K rollover. State emergency management directors will also use this system to report their Y2K status through emergency management channels to FEMA Headquarters here in Washington. State emergency management staff and State Y2K Coordinators are invited to participate. A dry run will be conducted in Region IX (San Francisco) in October, and the remaining workshops will be held in early November.

Domestic Interagency Working Group

As Chair of the Domestic Interagency Working Group (DIWG), FEMA plays a major role in supporting John A. Koskinen and the President's Council on Y2K Conversion. The DIWG and the International Interagency Working Group (IIWG) were created by the President's Council to monitor and provide oversight for Y2K incidents worldwide. The DIWG has convened on several occasions this past year to insure we have a comprehensive as well as fully coordinated and integrated Federal response to any potential Y2K disruption. We have also developed an organizational structure for the DIWG, which was briefed at the cabinet-level Y2K meeting last month, which incorporates the DIWG into our existing architecture for managing disasters and emergencies.

We have also been working closely with our counterparts at State Department, which has responsibility for chairing the IIWG. Along with the State Department, we are currently fine tuning interagency procedures to facilitate a synchronized response that is consistent with national policies and priorities.

FEMA'S "Event Management"

Our work will shift to "event management" during the actual rollover to the Year 2000. The Y2K transition period is defined as beginning December 28, 1999. The emergency management community may be facing a potential disruption scenario that it has not dealt with before: simultaneous disruptions in all 50 States and 6 Territories that may require Federal emergency declarations. In addition, we may have numerous weather-related major disaster declarations to address during this time frame.

FEMA will be staffing its Headquarters Emergency Support Team (EST), its alternate at the Mount Weather Emergency Assistance Center in Virginia, and the 10 Regional Operations Centers, and sending liaisons to each of the States' emergency operations centers. FEMA will simultaneously conduct activities associated with the Washington, D.C. Millennium "Special Event" scheduled for New Year's Eve. FEMA expects to have more than 800 staff in duty status during the December 28-January 4 timeframe.

In addition, a State mutual aid team will be co-located with the EST at FEMA Headquarters to facilitate inter-State mutual aid requests. The team will be composed of representatives from Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) and non-EMAC States. EMAC is an inter-State mutual aid agreement, which supplements State, local and Federal response during disasters. EMAC can quickly mobilize the unique resources possessed by States and allow them to help one another. Since being approved by Congress in 1996, 27 States and 1 Commonwealth have ratified EMAC, and several other States are in the ratification process. The mutual aid team will be trained in advance to familiarize members with possible State resource shortfalls, to locate interstate resources and to introduce EST operational procedures. Based on the availability of resources determined jointly by the team and EST staff, a decision will be made as to the best source (State or Federal) to ensure that the most critical needs are met and to achieve effective, timely, and equitable distribution of limited resources. Up to 10 State liaisons will be stationed at the EST to provide mutual aid services.


Y2K could test us all. No one knows for sure what will happen following rollover to January 1. We are hoping for the best, but taking necessary and prudent steps to prepare for any contingencies. At the same time, FEMA is working with the emergency management and fire services communities to raise awareness, to increase preparedness, and to stand ready to provide Federal response assistance to State and local governments, if required. The good news is that whatever happens with Y2K, all of our efforts will ultimately enhance our capabilities for dealing with the consequences of any disaster or emergency. At all levels, we are strengthening our working relationships; updating emergency operations plans and procedures; reaching out to the private sector; and, encouraging the use of mutual aid. Thanks to Y2K, emergency management is

-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), October 11, 1999.

Thanks to Y2K, emergency management is taking a major step forward.

We have a large Y2K mission ahead of us. At FEMA, we look forward to doing our part to help ensure the smoothest possible transition into the Year 2000, and that it will be "business as usual" for the Y2K emergency services sector.

Updated: October 7, 1999


Hate when my browser cuts me off.



-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), October 11, 1999.

Only 800 staff for a 3 day "non event?" At how many different outposts? Well, one would have to assume, now that America is ever so compliant and only under the threat of "local terrorism" those 800 would be off duty. We all and they can monitor those backward "3rd world countries" on our t.v. sets.

-- Paula (chowbabe@pacbell.net), October 11, 1999.

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