Resilience Primer and Links

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the term “homeland security” became an entrenched part of the lexicon in the United States, however much debate still remains over how best to achieve it. Although the primary focus of federal government efforts in this area has been on preventing future terrorist attacks on American soil, that focus does not adequately cover the full range of threats to this country. As Hurricane Katrina reminded us, unpreventable natural disasters and other catastrophic events can occur and cause a domino effect exposing weaknesses in our security and severely damaging our economy. Focusing solely on prevention ignores reality and detracts attention and resources from vital initiatives such as strengthening our dangerously eroded and aging infrastructure – that includes an unacceptably fragile supply chain – as well as enhancing our preparedness. What we need to focus on is improving our ability to effectively respond to and quickly recover from such a catastrophic event. That is the essence of resilience.  The Need for Resilience

A resilient nation is one that is not overwhelmed or immobilized by a calamitous event.  There is a growing movement arguing that strengthening the resilience of the nation must be a critical part of the U.S. homeland security strategy. Our economy is extremely dependent on a just-in-time supply chain that is susceptible to serious disruption that could cripple economic activity. Our brittle infrastructure also represents a significant vulnerability. The August 2003 power outage that swept the Northeast and Great Lakes regions of the country and the 2007 bridge collapse in Minnesota exposed the fragility of our aging infrastructure and revealed how damage to our infrastructure can have severe repercussions. As we seek to strengthen and modernize our outdated infrastructure, enhancing its resiliency must be a principal concern. Resilience is about mitigating the cascading adverse effects of a terrorist attack or natural disaster so that the nation can quickly recover and resume normal activity after such an event.

Improving our ability to respond to inevitable catastrophic events is also key to building a resilient society. The relatively low priority of emergency response in federal policy was evident in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) being engulfed in the massive bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) post 9/11. The inability of federal authorities to effectively respond to Hurricane Katrina laid bare the consequences of deemphasizing emergency response and preparedness. The federal government must be more active in promoting a culture of preparedness among the private sector and the general public.

Making Resilience a Reality

Policymakers in the White House, Department of Homeland Security, and Congress, as well as on the state and local levels, are embracing the concept of resilience. The focus now must turn to making national resilience a reality. That will entail defining what resilience is and devising concrete policies towards achieving it. The first Quadrennial Homeland Security Review released in early 2010 represented a major achievement in officially placing resilience on equal footing with prevention and setting forth resiliency goals. It is now a matter of implementing those steps.

Essential to this process will be public outreach to educate Americans on what means to them and actively involve them in attaining it. Family and community preparedness are essential to national resilience. Americans must also be reassured that making resilience a central part of U.S. security policy will not make us any less safe. Engaging and activating Americans in the resilience effort will unleash their spirit and determination like never before in enhancing U.S. security.

Collaboration at all levels of government and with the private sector will also be imperative. State and local authorities must become full partners with the federal government and no can longer be viewed as subordinates. State and local entities are on the front lines in preparing for and responding to catastrophes. The current top-down approach with federal authorities dictating to state and local officials must be replaced with collaboration between all levels. It will also be critical that the private sector be integrally involved. Many businesses have been pioneers in resilience through their business continuity planning. Public-private partnerships are all the more essential given that some 85% of U.S. critical infrastructure is in the hands of the private sector. 

Resources and Links: News, Reports and Data

Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Report (U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, February 2010)

An Operational Framework for Resilience (Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 2009)

A National Dialogue on the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (Department of Homeland Security, 2009)

Organizational resilience (Wikipedia)

Building a Resilient Nation: Enhancing Security, Ensuring a Strong Economy (Reform Institute, October 2008)

Top Ten Challenges Facing the Next Secretary of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Advisory Council, September 11, 2008)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2008-2013 (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, September 2008)

Homeland Security 3.0 (Heritage Foundation and CSIS, September 2008)

Resiliency and Public-Private Partnerships to Enhance Homeland Security (Heritage Foundation, June 2008)

Testimony of Robert Kelly on “Assessing the Resiliency of the Nation’s Supply Chain” (House Homeland Committee Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, May 2008)

Partnering with the Private Sector to Secure Critical Infrastructure (Hearing of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection, House Homeland Security Committee, May 2008)

Assessing the Resilience of the Nation’s Supply Chain (Hearing of the Subcommittee on Border, Maritime and Global Counterterrorism, House Homeland Security Committee, May 2008)

The Resilient Homeland — Broadening the Homeland Security Strategy (Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives, May 2008)

Resilience: What it is and how to achieve it (Testimony of Yossi Sheffi, MIT, before the House Homeland Security Committee, May 2008)

A Certification Standard Has Not Emerged In Emergency Preparedness Plans (Conference Board, April 2008)

Chain of Perils: Hardening the Global Supply Chain And Strengthening America’s Resilience (Reform Institute Reform Brief, March 2008)

America the Resilient (Stephen E. Flynn, Foreign Affairs, March/April 2008)

The Resilient Society (Rudolph Giuliani, City Journal, Winter 2008)

Prepare for the Next Disaster (Scott Louis Weber, Forbes, January 2008)

Global Movement Management: Strengthening Commerce, Security and Resiliency in Today’s Networked World (IBM Global Business Services, Gould, Prieto, Czerwinski, 2007)

The Edge of Disaster: Rebuilding a Resilient Nation (Stephen E. Flynn, Council on Foreign Relations, Random House, February 2007)

Corporate Responsibility: Why Businesses Should be Prepared in a World of Uncertainty (Homeland Security & Defense Business Council, Sept. 2007)

A Brittle Nation (Stephen E. Flynn, Popular Mechanics, August 2007)

Snapping Back (Government Executive Magazine, June 2007)

Report of the Critical Infrastructure Task Force (Homeland Security Advisory Council, January 2006)

The Resilience Vision (Defense Management Journal, March 2007)

Regional Disaster Resilience: A Guide for Developing an Action Plan (The Infrastructure Security Partnership, June 2006)

The Infrastructure Security Partnership Resiliency Issue Brief (Dec. 2007)

Resilience and American Security (Huffington Post, November 2007)

Weathering Any Storm (Fortune Supplement, March 2007)

Transform. The Resilient Economy: Integrating Competitiveness and Security (Council on Competitiveness, June 2007)

Financing Recovery from Catastrophic Events (Homeland Security Institute, March 2007)

Getting Down to Business: An Action Plan for Public-Private Disaster Response Coordination (Business Executives for National Security, January 2007)

Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs (NFPA, 2007 Edition)

Critical Infrastructure Protection is All About Operational Resilience and Continuity (Continuity Central, Nov. 2006)

Seeds of Disaster, Roots of Response: How Private Action Can Reduce Public Vulnerability (Cambridge University Press, Sept. 2006)

National Infrastructure Protection Plan (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, June 2006)

Neglected Defense: Mobilizing the Private Sector to Support Homeland Security (Council on Foreign Relations Special Report No. 13, May 2006)

The Business of Resilience (Demos, 2006)

The Resilient Enterprise: Overcoming Vulnerability for Competitive Advantage (Yossi Sheffi, MIT Press, October 2005)

America the Resilient (Government Security, May 2005)

Keeping Your Organization Prepared for Any Emergency (Emergency Corps)

Strategies for Private Sector Preparedness: Recommendations to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (The Working Group on Private Sector Preparedness, May 2004)

America the Vulnerable: How Our Government is Failing to Protect Us from Terrorism (Stephen Flynn, June 2004)

Resources and Links: Organizations

American Society of Civil Engineers

Council on Competitiveness

Infrastructure Security Partnership

Community & Regional Resilience Initiative

International Center for Enterprise Preparedness – New York University 

Pacific NorthWest Economic Region Center for Regional Disaster Resilience

Protecting America

Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness

The International Emergency Management Society

Business Continuity Institute

Center for Resilience (Ohio State University)

Ready Business

American National Standards Institute – Homeland Security Standards Panel

Project on Resilience and Security


2 Responses to “Resilience Primer and Links”

  1. Whither Resilience? « Policy Daddy Blog Says:

    […] not all catastrophes, namely natural disasters, can be avoided. Policy Daddy has provided a handy primer on the subject with links to […]

  2. Resilience Rising « Policy Daddy Blog Says:

    […] Policy Daddy is happy to see that his worst fears have not been realized. In fact, the concept of resilience is a central piece of the QHSR and looks poised to take its rightful place as a fundamental pillar […]

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: