FEMA emphasizes mitigation in new frameworks
Mitigation activities--risk-based decisions and actions that increase resiliency--receive special attention under a set of four draft Federal Emergency Management Agency frameworks released March 5 for public comment.
Presidential Policy Directive 8, signed by President Obama last March 30, calls for a set of national planning frameworks covering prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. FEMA released last week draft frameworks for all except recovery, which it finalized in September 2011.
Mitigation, says that framework, "sits at the heart" of PPD 8 and as a concept must be weaved in throughout all states of the national preparedness system. It consists of understanding risk and developing planes and strategies to manage them, the framework adds.
"A community acting through a risk-informed culture always considers ways to manage risks instead of solely reacting to events," it says. Mitigation has a particularly close relationship with the protection framework, it says, since both missions are focused on activities before a disaster strikes. (The prevention framework focuses almost entirely on terrorist attacks.)
Echoing recent statement by FEMA officials on the need for cross-jurisdiction coordinated disaster preparation, the framework says mitigation must occur in an "all-of-Nation" context that takes place within the economic, housing, health and social services, and infrastructure sectors and that also takes into account natural and cultural resources.
How FEMA funds disaster mitigation is currently the subject of debate, since FEMA proposes in its fiscal 2013 budget to eliminate its National Pre-disaster Mitigation grants program. Testifying recently before a House panel, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the grants program has $174 million in unspent fund. The approach the grants program takes, he said on March 7, is also not optimal, since it attempts to build resilience on a project-by-project basis.
"The problem is there's not enough money, and never would be enough money in pre-disaster mitigation to actually significantly reduce the nation's risk," he said. "You cannot mitigate building by building. You have to look more systemically."
- go to a FEMA webpage on PPD 8 with links to the draft frameworks