Panel recommends national disaster database for DOD

Congressional panelists advise on DOD support for domestic disasters

A panel created by Congress recommends creating a central federal/defense data depository to track disaster response efforts and nearly 40 other measures to improve how the Defense Department supports civilian authorities for disaster responses.

The panel, in a Sept. 15 report, advised establishing a nationwide repository of data on federal military responses, developing a common operating picture to coordinate defense and civilian responses, encouraging sharing of response plans across jurisdictions, and increasing DOD’s training and capacity for response to chemical, radiological, nuclear, biological and explosive disasters.

Congress created the Advisory Panel on Department of Defense Capabilities for Support of Civil Authorities After Certain Incidents under the defense authorization law of 2008, as amended in 2009. The Rand Corporation provided research and administrative support.

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The panel recommended that the president establish a central data depository to track all federal responses to natural and man-made disasters. DOD also should create a data depository to feed into the federal depository that would include details on deployed military units and personnel, operations, logistical and transportation support, command and control, funding and related analysis, it said.

In addition, a central common operating picture is needed to support incident response.

“Civil/military coordination for emergency response is currently hampered by the lack of a common operating picture to which response organizations can fully contribute and which they can fully use. This is despite legislation to direct such coordination and communication,” the panel report said.

The panelists recommend that the Homeland Security Department, with help from DOD, complete developing the Homeland Security Information Network and Common Operating Picture. The network has been in the works for several years.


About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Mon, Sep 27, 2010 Bob Labadie Columbus, Ohio

The interest in a Common Operating Picture (COP) for emergency response capabilities has been a priority for the National Guard, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, FEMA, and SECDEF since the Katrina events.The National Guard has developed and fielded a common database called the Joint Capabilities Database (JCD) that seeks to show capability and availability of the Guard's response capabilities in ten "core" capabilities. The ESF structure set by the HSPD-5 and -8 directives also serves as a platform for visibility of the forces and capabilities DoD brings to the table for domestic response events. The National Incident Management Structure (NIMS) sets a standardized approach within the Homeland Security/Homeland Defense, FEMA, DoD, Governmental and Non-Governmental communities in the response to and management of events, incidents, or conditions across the country. Another congressional panel that sets forth the same mandates as past legislative actions is simply another episode of our national interest in doing things today and forgetting we did the same things yesterday...Tecnology has given life to redundancy of efforts among governmental activities at a disheartening level. Too bad we don't leverage the systems already supposed to be in place instead of reinventing every legislative session that is influenced by the next group of bright idea lobbyists speaking for their governmental contracting clients.

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 Rich

To earlier comment - there are laws that deliberately segregate the jurisdictions of DoD versus DHS, thus the need for duplication. However, the National Guard WMD First Civilian Support Teams (22 people in each of the states) are DoD funded and supplied with the latest mil-grade Chem-Bio weapons detectors and countermeasures, yet the NG is under civilian command (i.e. governors). These groups are probably the best response we have for any kind of disaster, be it natural or man-made. In my opinion, DHS/FEMA are broke beyond repair.

Fri, Sep 17, 2010

Uh, isn't this what DHS/FEMA was chartered to do? And by the way DoD part of the federal government. This habit of DoD having their own little mirror-world duplicate of everything the rest of FedGov does, is one of the reasons the deficit is so high. It's All The Same Store, Folks, etc.

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