Over the past few decades, the United States has developed an increasingly complex relationship with both nature and technology. This relationship has created challenges for protecting the nation’s communities, addressing terrorist threats, understanding certain risks, and applying resources to protect or mitigate against those risks. This complex environment will force every level of government to make hard choices about what to preserve, what to protect, and potentially what to let go.
Resiliency, for all its varied definitions, is at its core about understanding the value of what we have and what we wish to preserve and improve. Recent disasters such as Superstorm Sandy have shown how a dense urban/suburban environment, with significant and vulnerable public and private infrastructure, can be heavily damaged by a hurricane and how the effects can ripple not only across the affected region but across the nation. There has already been a climate of change in the thinking of many policymakers at the state and local level. These policymakers ask questions every day about what to rebuild and how to make it stronger – and whether or not to rebuild at all.
The survey outlined in this report is the second of a series that Booz Allen Hamilton has partnered on with DomPrep Journal. The survey drills down into policy challenges for federal programs and understanding impacts at the state and local levels, where the majority of the resilience effort is realized.
One of the things that the nation collectively needs to understand is that the event that occurs does not create the pre-conditions or status of the community, the people, and the country. For instance, Hurricane Katrina did not invent low-income, high-density housing, childhood malnutrition, and educational problems. The same is true about the pre-conditions in the region hit by Sandy (density, population, at-risk infrastructure). An event like Sandy is exacerbated and by those conditions.
Actions to address national resilience require a unity of effort to affect change. This is difficult. There are horizontal issues related to other governmental and private sector entities that have either a stake or equity in the response. The goal is trying to bring those sectors together with an understanding that the best thing to do is work together to solve the problem. It is a leadership challenge, it is a legal challenge, it is a policy challenge, and it is a resource challenge.
This report as well as others contribute to that unity of effort.
Thad W. Allen
Thad Allen, executive vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, is a leader in the firm’s Departments of Justice and Homeland Security business in the civil market. He leads the development of thought leadership and client engagement regarding the future direction of law enforcement and homeland security. His expertise includes bringing together government and nongovernment entities to address major challenges in a “whole government” approach designed to achieve a unity of effort. In 2010, following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama selected him as the national incident commander for the unified response. He completed his distinguished career in the U.S. Coast Guard as its 23rd commandant. Before his assignment as commandant, he served as Coast Guard chief of staff. During his tenure in that position, in 2005, he was designated principal federal official for the U.S. government’s response and recovery operations in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita throughout the Gulf Coast region.