In December 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report analyzing current strategies to prepare for no-notice catastrophic emergencies, such as large scale natural disasters or nuclear attacks. The report, GAO-15-20, assesses federal interagency emergency support function preparedness and the management oversight of capability gaps.
To complete their study, GAO reviewed relevant laws, directives, and strategies, and analyzed recommended actions from national-level exercises and other interagency assessments. GAO also reviewed documents and interviewed officials from federal departments involved in disaster response, including the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, and Health and Human Services.
GAO found that there are several areas that could be improved, such as enhancing the Secretary of Homeland Security’s ability to to assess emergency support functions preparedness. GAO also found that emergency support function coordinators are inconsistently carrying out their emergency response preparedness activities, and that federal departments have identified emergency response capability gaps.
GAO has made three recommendations. GAO recommends that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies issue supplemental guidance to emergency support functions coordinators detailing minimum standards for activities and product deliverables necessary to demonstrate preparedness; that the agencies regularly report on the status of corrective actions identified through prior national-level exercises and real-world disasters; and that they develop and issue detailed program management information to better enable management oversight of Homeland Security’s improvised nuclear device strategy recommended actions. Homeland Security has concurred with GAO’s recommendations.
For more information about GAO-15-20, please follow the link below.
GAO-15-20, Emergency Preparedness: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Interagency Assessments and Accountability for Closing Capability Gaps