PPDs, NRFs, SSAs, ESFs…What Do They Mean to You?

Lately, there has been a fair amount of discussion related to the March 2011 Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, the development of a new National Response Framework (NRF), the role of EPA as the Water Sector Specific Agency (SSA) and how the Agency fits into the architecture of Emergency Support Functions (ESFs).  So, what is this all about?

Presidential Policy Directive 8 calls for the “…development of a national preparedness goal that identifies the core capabilities necessary for preparedness and a national preparedness system to guide activities that will enable the Nation to achieve the goal. The system will allow the Nation to track the progress of our ability to build and improve the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from those threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation.”  To read the full document, go to http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/laws/gc_1215444247124.shtm

National Response Framework provides the structure to achieve the goals identified in the Presidential Policy Directive.  The National Response Framework “…presents the guiding principles that enable all response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to disasters and emergencies – from the smallest incident to the largest catastrophe.  The Framework establishes a comprehensive, national, all-hazards approach to domestic incident response.  For more information, please go to http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nrf/aboutNRF.htm


Sector Specific Agency is the term applied to the designated Federal Department Agency responsible for oversight of each of the identified critical infrastructures and key resources.  As the Sector Specific Agency for Water, “…EPA is tasked to collaborate with all relevant federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector; conduct or facilitate vulnerability assessments of the water sector; and encourage risk management strategies to protect against and mitigate the effects of attacks against the water and waste water infrastructures.”  More recently, this charge has been expanded to include an all hazards approach and consider the potential for sector resiliency.  For more information on EPA’s role as the Water Sector Specific Agency, go to http://www.epa.gov/homelandsecurityportal/laws-hspd.htm

Emergency Support Function #3 – Public Works and Engineering provides “…Federal public works and engineering support when an incident or potential incident overwhelms State, local, and tribal government capabilities and/or when other departments or agencies within the Federal Government require assistance.”  The Corps of Engineers is the lead Federal agency for this ESF.  However, EPA has a supporting role when the needs relate water supply and service.  A helpful fact sheet on this subject is at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/pubs/fs_natl_response_framework_nrf_fact_sheet.pdf

In short, all of this combines to make sure that the appropriate Federal resources will be in place to help should a larger than local incident occur.  This is the Federal “chain of command” for incident response.


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