By: Bill Irwin and Spencer Schargorodski
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate and Major General Bo Temple, Acting Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), co-hosted the 2012 “Senior Leaders’ Seminar” on May 10, 2012 at FEMA Headquarters. Lt. General Thomas P. Bostick, who became the 53rd USACE Commanding General after the session, also participated in the seminar. USACE and FEMA have held annual Senior Leadership Seminar (SLS) events since 1999. This year’s seminar was streamlined to make the meeting more efficient and productive.
The headquarters SLS was only two hours long with topics and issues refined ahead of time to facilitate focused discussions (past SLS meetings have been as long as two days). The meeting was held at the FEMA National Response Coordination Center conference room, allowing for more frank discussions than past events that had been held in venues with a much larger audience. In addition to USACE and FEMA participants, there were also leaders from the Department of Energy, DHS Infrastructure Protection, Northern Command and the White House National Security Staff.
While senior leaders in Washington, DC were meeting, FEMA Regional Administrators were hosting USACE counterparts at their regional offices. In the past, FEMA Regional Administrators and USACE Commanders traveled with their staff to Washington to participate in the SLS. Having regional meetings not only cut back on travel requirements and costs, but also allowed participants to discuss issues that were relevant in their particular areas of the country.
Key headquarters SLS topics included:
- Strategies to facilitate power restoration and mitigate requirements for temporary power,
- Integrating Volunteer Organizations into USACE National Response Framework missions,
- Rapid mobilization of teams after no-notice events,
- Lessons learned from 2012 “Expedited Debris Removal” initiatives,
- Addressing gaps in abilities to distribute live saving resources following catastrophic disasters,
- Challenges in supporting large scale and complex urban search and rescue operations, and
- The leaders also reviewed interagency support to the National Disaster Recovery Framework and the draft Mitigation Framework.
Towards the end of the day, a VTC was held with regional participants so that they could share key outcomes with leadership in Washington. The SLS concluded with Ms. Karen Durham-Aguilera, USACE Director of Contingency Operations, providing an overview of the national session outcomes. An action plan is being developed to address the issues that were articulated during the SLS. Given the success of the 2012 SLS, future events will likely be held in a similar streamlined manner.