While the government now talks the talk of national preparedness, it has yet to set priorities and devote the resources necessary to make the country better able to cope with and recover from significant disasters of any kind. Resources are being provided to state and local authorities, but vague guidance leaves too little accountability. There is not enough emphasis on general sustainment capabilities.
Planning within the Department of Homeland Security, while rightly promoting a long-term process to support national cooperation, remains too complex and Washington-centric. While the federal government has assisted with planning, few plans have been rigorously tested. The existing health care system is struggling to deliver care on a daily basis, for example, much less in a crisis situation.
Most urban areas do not have the capacity to handle the influx of patients that would likely follow a bioterrorist attack or pandemic. DHS and HHS lack effective metrics to determine just how much is being spent at state and local levels on preparedness. Existing funding is spread across too many priorities, based more on politics than need. DHS has devised standards of performance for the private sector without incentives that would encourage the private sector to go beyond market requirements.
For more information on this topic, please see: