In August 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducted a preparedness grant effectiveness case study with the City of Chicago Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is the State Administrative Agency (SAA) with the legal authority to administer the grants, according to FEMA grant requirements. IEMA, as the award recipient, has sub-recipient award agreements with the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) for these grant programs. The purpose of the study was to understand the impact of FEMA preparedness grants on the city’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response. City representatives from the Chicago OEMC, as well as the departments of police and fire, participated in the case study and discussed how federal funding affected the pandemic response. FEMA also drew from information provided through the Biannual Strategic Implementation Report (BSIR) and Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA)/Stakeholder Preparedness Review (SPR).
This case study found that Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP)-funded and Emergency Management
Performance Grant (EMPG)-funded investments supported a collaborative preparation for and response
to the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials from Chicago cited trainings, planning, a whole-community response, and cross-department exercises as key contributors to the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and concurrent civil unrest. This whole-of-city response was made possible through administrative and legal collaboration across departments that allowed the government to operate continuously as it transitioned from steady-state to a long-term, often remote, emergency posture.
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