Initiative maps out homeland efforts

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Homeland Security/Emergency Management Web site

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Representatives from seven states and a U.S. territory recently unveiled

homeland security action plans that were developed during the past year

in an initiative sponsored by the National Governors Association.

The plans will serve as road maps for future homeland security efforts

including bioterrorism response, emergency communications and disaster response.

Plans were presented during an NGA "policy academy" meeting in Savannah,

Ga., Oct. 29-30.

NGA will analyze the state plans and draft a report containing lessons

learned and best practices that will be sent to the homeland security advisers

of all governors by late November or early December, according to Ann Beauchesne,

who directs NGA's Homeland Security and Emergency Management division.

Governors from the states and territory appointed six-member teams of

high-level officials, including homeland security advisers, adjutant generals,

state emergency management and public health directors, and local emergency

management, health and law enforcement officials.

"The teams worked intensively to explore current policies and procedures

and engaged in cross-team analysis of areas for improvement and innovation

and customized their strategies concerning a specific policy or issue area,"

Beauchesne said. Common denominators included securing funding and sharing

information among state, local and federal authorities, she added.

In an e-mail message, Beauchesne provided sketches of what each team

focused on:

* Georgia is developing a long-term strategy — with a special focus

on information sharing and intelligence gathering — consolidating the anti-terrorism

planning efforts conducted by local, state and federal governments.

* Indiana is focusing on an information technology project management

software tool to assimilate all state agencies' activities into the state's

Counter Terrorism and Security Council.

* Iowa will look at enhancing bioterrorism and agroterrorism preparedness

as it coordinates and implements its comprehensive state strategy.

* Ohio will develop a "single, integrated command structure" encompassing

both public and private entities and develop a management model that links

agencies in a nonhierarchical fashion.

* Pennsylvania is setting up a computer network linking 130 hospitals

and 50,000 doctors to monitor trends that may lead to early detection of

a bioterrorism attack.

* Utah will enhance and sustain an organizational structure — developed

when it hosted the Olympics — to ensure coordination and information sharing

at all levels of government and with the private sector.

* West Virginia will develop interoperable communications and public

health efforts to prepare for bioterrorism.

* The Virgin Islands will continue to assess critical infrastructures,

specifically ports and refineries. The territory also will sever the link

between drugs and terrorists and will examine liability issues for first

responders.

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