The National Capital Region (NCR) was created pursuant to the National Capital Planning Act of 1952, 40 USC §71. The Act defines the NCR as the District of Columbia; Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in the State of Maryland; Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince William Counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia; and all cities existing in Maryland or Virginia within the geographic area bounded by the outer boundaries of the combined area of said counties (e.g., Alexandria, Manassas, Manassas Park, Rockville).
The NCR is home to all three branches of the Federal Government, 271 federal departments and agencies, and more than 340,000 federal employees. More than 2,000 political, social, and humanitarian non-profit organizations and more than 40 colleges and universities are located within the NCR. The NCR receives more than 20 million tourists each year and some of the most important symbols of national sovereignty and democratic heritage stand within the NCR's boundaries. More than five million Americans call the NCR home. The NCR encompasses a complex and diverse array of communities. Its populations reside in dense urban environments, suburbs, and rural communities. In addition to its many residents, many workers commute daily from outside the NCR, from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Tidewater area of Virginia.
The NCR is a hub of international governmental and business activity. Four thousand diplomats work at more than 170 embassies, and more than 8,000 individuals work at international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization of American States. The number of foreign national residents and visitors located in the Region at any one time exceeds that of any other metropolitan area in the United States.
The NCR's populace and commuters rely on a vast array of critical infrastructure and key resources including transportation, energy, and water. The day-to-day challenges found in the Region's transportation system illustrate the complexity of protecting the critical infrastructure from attack and disruption. The NCR hosts two major airports, with a third major airport just outside its border. The NCR transportation system also contains the Nation's second-largest rail transit and fifth-largest bus systems. In addition, an intricate network of major highways and bridges serve the Region's commuters and businesses.
Hazards and incidents in the NCR can not only result in human, political, and economic harm to the Region, but to the Nation as a whole. During the 9/11 attacks and subsequent all-hazards events in the NCR, the lack of a coordinated framework and approach by federal, state, local, and private entities within the Region created gaps and unnecessary risks to government and public safety. As a result, Congress created the Office of National Capital Region Coordination, which enhances preparedness and promotes resiliency by enabling better communication and planning between and among federal, state, local, regional, nonprofit and private sector stakeholders in the NCR.