Showing posts from 2011

All Hands Consulting Reviews 2011, Has Positive Outlook for 2012

Happy New Year's Eve everyone. I prepared the following as an update on AHC activities past, present and future.
All Hands Consulting (AHC) is ending another successful year: its twelfth since rebranding DavisLogic as All Hands in early 2000.  2012 will be the thirteenth year of operations for this unique emergency management consulting firm.  AHC is starting off the New Year with many exciting projects on the books.  The 2012 outlook is positive despite the sluggish economy and cut backs in homeland security grants.
Reflecting on 2011
This is the time of year to reflect on our past accomplishments and keys to success. We want to thank everyone who has been a part of All Hands including our consultants, clients and partners. Despite the recession, 2011 was a year of steady work for AHC. All Hands consultants kept busy working with many returning clients and a few new clients. Our client list has grown to over 150 while our team of consultants has climbed well past 1,000.
AHC supported…

FEMA's new Think Tank Project

A New Collaboration Community

FEMA has created a new "Collaboration Community" where stakeholders can come to a forum-type website and view, contribute and comment on conversations about emergency preparedness, disaster response and recovery, and other emergency management topics. They are calling this the "FEMA Think Tank".

The FEMA web page giving background information on the Think Tank is at

The site has gotten off to a great start since being announced at the IAEM conference last week. As of today, the usage statistics show that 72 ideas have been posted with 199 comments and 613 votes from 389 users.  The ideas are very interesting, some are a bit off topic, some are venting, and some are a bit redundant. However, I am sure that FEMA is getting a lot of good ideas from the stream of consciousness presented on the site already.

How does it work?

The site is built to run on user ideas and votes. Users submit their ideas, then the community di…

National Disaster Recovery Framework Based on ERI / All Hands Consulting Best Practices

I found this little bit of history interesting... Good work "back in the day" by my good friend and business partner Rick LaValla was the basis of the new FEMA doctrine for recovery. Rick did not get any credit for this groundbreaking work but the story below helps set the record straight.
Reviewing the Origins of the National Disaster Recovery Framework
The basis for the newly released National Disaster Recovery Framework is the concept of "Recovery Support Functions” (RSFs). The original idea and concepts of RSFs was born in Cape Coral, Florida in 2001-2002. This pioneering work was the result of Rick LaValla, President of ERI International and Co-Founder and Vice President of All Hands Consulting, done under on contract with the City of Cape Coral.
Mr. LaValla conducted recovery workshops and focus groups with Cape Coral Fire Chief and Emergency Manager William “Bill” Van Helden in 2001 and 2002 which led to th…

Many DHS Grants are Effective and Have Proper Oversight

Today's blog takes a twist on a recent piece that was published on the Homeland Security Newswire and repeated on several UASI and Emergency Management mail lists and blogs.
The title of this piece was "Many DHS grantsineffective, lack proper oversight" and it was based on an interview with David Muhlhausen, a research fellow in empirical policy analysis at the Heritage Foundation.
As our blog's title clearly indicates, we do not agree with this premise.  And, we question the Heritage Foundation's constant criticism of homeland security grants and efforts.
First some background on where this is coming from.  The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense."
The foundation is considered…

UASI 2012: An Alternative Future

One of my "UASI Friends" asked why the proposed 2012 UASI funding of $400 million couldn't be shared among the 2011 UASI awardees.  It could obviously. That approach would amount to about 60% of the current award. An updated curve graphic of what this would look like is shown below. This is one alternative future, the money could be spread over more or less UASIs based on the decision of the Homeland Security Secretary.

You can click on this image to get a larger version which you may be able to actually read.

Just a note, this is all obviously very speculative. UASIs should consider what is realistic to expect given the funding and the previous clear desire to fund the most at-risk cities over those less at-risk.  However, the argument can certainly be made that all of the cities currently receiving UASI dollars are at-risk and worthy of funding. I expect this will be a debate as the budget is finalized and finally implemented.

Why $400 Million Will Not Save Tier II UASIs

Yesterday’s blog provided a chart that shows how the Senate’s proposed FY 2012 Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) budget compared to previous years.  While the chart shows a steep decline, you may think that $400 million is still a lot of money.  It certainly is a lot of money, and it is better than what the House bill would have provided, but the chart belies the impact on what DHS calls “Tier II” UASI cities. 
Today’s blog looks at the impact of the proposed funding level on UASI cities.
Background The total number of UASI cities grew to 64 in FY 2010 but saw a dramatic decrease in FY 2011 when it was cut down to 31 due to a 21% decrease in funding.  One can only guess at this point how many FY 2012 UASIs there will be; but, an educated guess is that there will be no more than ten or eleven.  Eleven is the current number of Tier I cities, while ten is a number that has been thrown around by both legislators and grants managers.
The Tier I cities have historically received the “Lion…

FY 2012 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Senate bill provides $2.58 billion for state and local grants - $557 million above the House level.

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security approved a Fiscal Year 2012 funding legislation bill on September 6th.  The legislation, which still needs to go through the conference committee process and be signed by the President before it becomes law, totals $41 billion in discretionary budget authority, $2.6 billion below the President’s request, and $666 million (-1.6%) below FY 2011.
The good news for DHS and grantees is that this is $408 million above the House-passed bill. 
The Senate rejected the House approach to grants.  In particular, The bill rejects the House proposal to eliminate the Urban Area Security Initiative, Port Security Grants, and Transit Security Grants and other programs and replace them with a block grant.
The bill provides $2.58 billion for state and local grants, which is $557 million above the House level.  The bill rejects the House propo…

Tales of Irene: Did we over react?

August 27, 2011 1100 hrs EDT (Maryland)

I have been watching Irene with interest, both as a resident of the east coast and as an emergency management practitioner.  I have been impressed with the planning and preparation so far, surprised by some of the doom and gloom, and now listening to those that think that everyone overreacted. So, I am prompted to impose my opinions on my readers once again...

The short answer to the question of overreactions is, IMHO, that it was not overreacting based on what the emergency managers had in the way of a forecast.  Hurricanes are unique, and preparedness officials are blessed, in that there is a lot of warning with tropical systems - almost too much it seems. The problem is there is not as much certainly as we would like. Forecast tracks change all the time and forecast strength is also seldom correct. But you need to work with what you have.

Evacuations are a tool to save lives. Getting people out of the impact zone is a no-brainier but when and ho…

Preparing for Hurricane Irene

I wanted to share this"Preparing for Hurricane Irene" letter from Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano to his constituents on Long Island.  I think they have done an excellent job of communicating with the local residents in advance of Irene.

Dear Neighbors,

With hurricane Irene heading toward our coast, we urge all Nassau County residents to prepare appropriately for the storm. Below please find a list of precautions to take and items to have in your home to prepare you.

1. Select a safe place for the family to weather the storm. This may be a location in your home - consider a windowless room on the bottom floor. If your home doesn't have a safe area, you should know the locations of at least two emergency shelters near your home. If you have special medical needs and don't think you'll be able to get to the shelter on your own, contact the county in advance to make prior arrangements.

2. Stock up on food and water. You should have enough non-perishable f…

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Sometimes you just need to share a good picture. This is one of my pet peeves....

Supplanting - Will it be an issue for preparedness grants?

As you may know, the FEMA preparedness grant programs are designed to “enhance community emergency preparedness and participation capabilities”, not to help fund baseline programs.The common concept for grants is that they are to “supplement not supplant” local dollars. However, many communities are looking at a loss of both local tax dollars and grant funds at the same time; what are they to do? Tough decisions must be made; is the option of shifting tax-funded program activities to grants a viable one? Maybe, but caution is warranted.
Many grant programs, including FEMA preparedness grants, have specific requirements that all grant-funded expenses must be new and that grant funds cannot replace existing state or local government funding. Substitution of existing funds with federal grants (supplanting) will be the subject of monitoring and audit reports. Non-supplanting rules are serious business, violations can result in penalties, including suspension of current and future funds, su…

Twitter Hashtags and Emergency Management

(Updated November 11, 2011)  

While some emergency managers are embracing social media, others are still avoiding it. However, social media has emerged as an important tool for emergency managers. Emergency managers are using social media as a preparedness tool to engage the community, help with public information and as otherwise aid in dissemination of the preparedness message.  In addition, social media is emerging as an important tool for situation awareness during the response and recovery phases of an emergency. It is important, in using social media for all phases of emergency management, to understand that it is not just about Twitter.  However, Twitter has clearly emerged as the most significant platform for emergency management engagement and situational awareness.  Twitter is simple; it is a micro blogging tool which is limited to 140 characters.  Anyone can follow what anyone else has to say.  This stream of  data (the Twittersphere or Twitter Stream) can be overwhelming bas…