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March 2012 Archives
March 01, 2012

I got the following in the mail today.  The deadline is March 12th, so get cracking if you are interested!  Remember that what you need is "experience" and some stellar "recommendations" from people who you work for.


Marcie Roth, Director of FEMA’s Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, is excited to share the below announcement regarding FEMA’s Summer Hires program.

The links included below will provide additional information regarding these openings. Please forward this announcement to anyone you believe may be interested in applying.

 I wanted to share the links to the job postings for the Summer Hires program (STEP Intern positions), in hopes you will share them with any/all interested or potential candidates.  I included our current group of interns in hopes that they will send these links to their fellow students!  J

 The first posting is for the Washington, DC area, the second is for several non-DC/regional offices.  The announcements close on March 12th, so please ensure all interested candidates apply through USAJOBS before the closing date.  Keep in mind, this year, HR will not accept any applicants if they have not applied through USAJOBS.





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March 01, 2012

This comes from our Canadian brothers and sisters to the North.  Crisis management lessons highlights some incidents both emergencies and the political type and what they did right or wrong.


It is a quick primer on how to get ahead of an issue and at the end there are some good tips from Ken Wong and Dan Tisch.  


Two notes:

This article is not heavy on the use of social media, but there is one example given on how it worked to defuse angry people and social media comments.  Since the article was meant for a Canadian audience the term "Ragging the Puck" was used.  So I had to look that one up to better "translate" from English Canadian to English American.  The definition is as follows:  As hockey fans well know, ragging the puck is the act of retaining the puck by skillful skating and stickhandling without attempting to score as a deliberate tactic intended to run the time on the clock.  Eh!

In American football--it is called "running out the clock."


Amy Romanas shared this information and the link.

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March 04, 2012

Governing Magazine had an article on the actions that have been taken by the City of El Paso, Texas to address water shortage issues.  See When the River Runs Dry



My take away from the information provided there has three points concerning using a strategy of adaptation:


  • Mitigation is sometimes confused with adaptation.  I think adaptation is more the long game, deep battle aspect of addressing issues before they are at your door.  While mitigation can be done at any time, adaptation strategy is one that looks long term.
  • Which leads to my second, aha from the article.  If you are looking to implement adaptation strategies you have to be thinking and acting with "long term" in mind.  This means multi-years, multi-administrations that will take decades to fully implement.  In truth, America will probably not be good at adaptation--not matter what the threat is.  Given our short tenure as a nation on this earth we are interested in instant solutions.  We live in a microwave world and investing for the long term has not been part of our nature.
  • Lastly, if we are going to start, we need to start now.  The clock will continue to tick and we will only be falling further behind.  

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March 04, 2012

The maritime industry has been waiting a long time to read about how the Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) reader pilot program turned out.  A number of ports and types of terminals were funded with Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) funds to install and test a variety of biometric readers.


For the full report see Transportation Worker Identification Credential Reader Pilot Program and then there is a summary document Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Reader Pilot Program



I've only read the summary document, but holy moly there were many glitches in the tests that were done.  

  • Readers that did not hold up to a marine environment
  • Readers that could not take high levels of usage
  • Cards that when wet would not work
  • Cards that would not work in the proximity function
  • Portable readers that when they got wet malfunctioned
  • Operator and user training that is needed
  • Problems with meshing with existing access control systems
  • And, more...

The report does not give me a high level of confidence that the implementation of biometric readers is going to go smoothly.  It appears to me that every installation will require a significant degree of trouble-shooting and adjustment to ensure that the system can work as it was originally designed.


One item mentioned was the idea to just ditch your existing access control system and use TWIC as your one and only access control card.  For anyone with sensitive areas and a desire to maintain an independent access system that has better background checks than required for TWIC I think this will be a non-starter.


You can see why many organizations have held off on implementing these biometric readers.

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March 04, 2012

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever mood we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”  Flora Edwards  We’ve had an early breakout of tornado activity this year.  Typically it is April and May before we have the types of severe weather we have seen in the last few days that has now killed 37 people and destroyed many homes and businesses.


Once again we are seeing volunteers come from all over to help pitch in and aid those who have been impacted by the disaster.  They bring food, heavy equipment or just many hands to sort through the rubble of what was someone’s home.  They retrieve the most basic of things that can be salvaged, household goods, clothing, photographs and mementos. 


Many of them say that they do it because they cannot just stand by and watch.  Some are paying back the kindness that was shown to them when their regions and towns were hit by disasters.  Others are perennial volunteers who serve via a whole host of volunteer programs focused on disaster relief. 


To all of them we say thank you!

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March 05, 2012

New Update, March 6th:  My blog post from yesterday, see below, seems to have "gotten the chickens up in the trees."  See quote directly below that I got from Jessica Smith, Director of External Affairs, FEMA which was feedback on my earlier blog post:


"FEMA directs EMPG funds strictly to States each fiscal year; and thus, FEMA would not be in the position of considering EMPG funds for the Red Cross. The Administrator and our Office of Legal Counsel have neither discussed this matter nor been asked to provide a legal opinion."


What does all this mean?  Being from the "other Washington (State)" I'm not able to discern which factoid is totally correct and which might not have all the facts right.  I'm guessing that the truth is somewhere in between.  


If I were as wise as King Solmon I'd probably suggest "Cutting the baby in half" and dividing up EMPG funds.  Just kidding!   I figure more information will be coming out from somewhere soon--if there is any truth to the matter, or this will fade into history as a minor blip as we worry about what Iran will do after they are attacked by Israel.



From March 5th:


This might be an interesting "discussion" coming soon to a congressional hearing near you.  Jerry Quinn sent me this tidbit of information.  


"IAEM battling the Red Cross effort to become an EMPG (Emergency Management Performance Grants) subgrantee; competing for local funds.  Watch the FEMA reauthorization bill HR 2903.  Marked up 3/1.  Fugate indicates the FEMA lawyers are okay with the idea.  IAEM believes it is unauthorized."


Just when we were getting along so well with our Red Cross partners--this pops up.  I can understand both sides of the need.  For the International Association of Emergency Manager (IAEM) they know it is a zero sum game.  There won't be more money for EMPG authorized, so if Red Cross gets a cut then there is less for state and local emergency management programs.  Where would be without the Red Cross when disaster strikes?  They are a critical component to our national emergency response system.  They like many institutions are reorganizing to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and changing demographics.  


This will be a "battle" to keep your eye on.

March 06, 2012

I'm picking up some tidbits from a security conference today.


The nexus between security and IT is getting stronger.  Budgets for physical security are decreasing.  Organizations are open to replacing people with technology.


The bigger items that will drive the future are:


  • Using the Cloud
  • Analytics to help focus security efforts
  • Mobile applications
  • Reducing costs while increasing the value of security
There is a value stream in security.  Risk and resiliency creates the context for mitigation.  It was noted that the issue of silos within organizations is a huge issue to system and organizational integration.

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March 06, 2012

Where is the Cloud today and where is it headed in the future.  The days of guns, gates and guards are fading away.  For Microsoft they are "all in" on the Cloud when it comes to their own security.


They want to align with their own thought leaders.  It really is a people friendly solution.  


Globalization is also driving the move to the Cloud.  When you cross many time zones it is important that you have a single access system to store and retrieve information.  The Cloud provides for better system integration.


Yes there are things to worry about.  Privacy and data standards and concerns are not the same around the world.  


The Cloud is a service that must be bullet proof and reliable.  It allows you to no longer be dependent on premise hardware.  Microsoft has spent $5B on building a Cloud capability.  


People can feel threatened by the Cloud and how they view their future.  This is the age old issue of dealing with change.  There is new leadership coming into the security world.  The legacy staff from the old security model are getting old and retiring.  New people with new skills like risk management and business continuity are entering the system.  They are changing how leaders view security and represent it to business leaders.  


There are different types of Clouds.  A private Cloud for a single organization.  A private Cloud for multiple organizations.  There are public Clouds for anyone's use.  There are also hybrid Clouds.


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March 06, 2012

See job posting Disaster Recovery Specialist/Emergency Management Planner (Northern Virginia)


This position is not for someone right out of school  You will need some real world experience in being an emergency manager


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March 06, 2012

This session is on global risk.  The speaker was William G. Raisch, International Center for Enterprise Preparedness, New York University.


There are:

  • Recurring and instensifying risks
  • New High impact threats
  • Global Risk amplifiers
  • Finally, there are reduced defenses
There is perfect storm:
  • Natural disasters
  • Man-made & tech failures
New high impact risks:
  • Cyber thefts/hacktivisim
  • Industrial espionage
  • Systemic financial risk
  • Geo-magnetic storms'Political volatility
  • Civil unrest
Global Risk Amplifiers:
  • Widening geographic footprints
  • Growing interdependencies
  • Ever hungry media
Reduced Defenses:
  • Lower headcounts
  • Reduced risk assessment
  • Limited risk treatments
The bottom line is we have an increasing risk and limited/decreasing resources.
The idea is to leverage collaboration as a force multiplier.  This means accessing wider resources and capabilities whle realizing cost savings.  This should lead to improve problem-solving/solutions development.
-Access to a wider diversity of insights on issues
-Can identify stumbling blocks in advance
-Produce better solutions
There is a ready-made coalition to move collaborative solutions forward.  Leverage growing technological tools to support collaboration not available before.  SharePoint for example.
The community we need to get to come together are:
  • The core is International Corporations
  • We need connectivity with national governmental agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Research & Expertise organizations
  • Critical Infrastructure
  • Existing Public-private partnerships
  • Cross-national organizations
Core Principles for Collaboration:
  • Convene on neutral ground
  • Establish a trusted network
  • Share information/insights on common risks
  • Collaborate before, during & after crisis
  • Establish a truly global perspective for action
  • Promote cross-pollination across industries
  • Identify and integrate with other initiatives
  • Identify & embrace "win-wins"
More on core principles:
  • Maintain a problem-solving approach with a hard deliverables and bottom-line orientation
  • Employ a project management discipline
  • Short term and long term pay-offs
  • Advance both the organization and individual
  • Adopt an offensive objectives-focused as well as defensive stance/proactively address risks to achieve rewards
Network Activities:
  • Build & maintain network of key players
  • 24/7 online Community
  • Member-Expert network
  • Face-to-face Meetings
  • International Knowledge Base
  • Targeted real-time virtual forums
  • -Web Conferences, urgent Briefings, situational awareness, forums, flash surveys, after-action

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