Haddow and Bullock, 2005)—a trend that was reversed to some degree after the 2005 hurricane season and the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.21

Disaster management, however, is often confined to first-responder experts, whose specific expertise alone often cannot address conditions that are the consequence of extreme events like natural or human-caused disasters. Nor may they be knowledgeable on appropriate response to nonphysical events such as economic recession and unemployment that can have devastating effects on a community. While U.S. disaster management concepts are intended to be comprehensive, their application is not. Policies that guide federal programs are a helpful foundation for what could be comprehensive risk management at the national level. State and local government would benefit from collaborative relationships with their federal counterparts to yield practical results in the field at the local level.

Planning and training activities for disaster management underpin the system at all levels of government, but full implementation is difficult to achieve. We prepare to respond with the inherent assumption that if we are prepared to respond quickly, efficiently, and effectively, recovery will follow naturally (CARRI, 2009). Expanding on that concept, Harvard Kennedy School research has explored disaster-management practice and has suggested strategic improvements in social welfare with more balanced investments in advance recovery planning and risk reduction (Leonard, 2010).This approach, when applied, promises improved outcomes in disaster situations because it pairs response activities with risk reduction. Eventually, resilience results from conditions that foster nimble and responsive actions in advance of disruptive events (Leonard and Howitt, 2010). The comprehensive risk-management approach provides the nation with a commonly understood and effective system of incident response to and early recovery from most disasters. The system can be flexible and adaptable, as demonstrated by specific problems identified and addressed during major disasters. Improvement plans are ideally made by governments in response to shortcomings identified during particular disasters. Application and implementation of policies is not always effective, as evidenced by poor response when disaster occurs. Emergency and disaster managers and responders may apply “just-in-time” practices to situations that warrant more complex and adaptive action.


Collaboration occurs through a variety of formal and informal arrangements. The committee’s use of the term collaboration refers to cooperative action. In this report, unless otherwise specified, the terms partnership, coalition, network, joint venture, and alliance refer to various types of organizations or mechanisms that enable collaboration in the broadest sense, regardless of the formality of the arrangement. Different sectors may identify these


See www.dhs.gov/xfoia/archives/gc_1157649340100.shtm (accessed June 21, 2010).

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