The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, illustrated the need for all levels of government, the private sector, and nongovernmental agencies to prepare for, protect against, respond to, and recover from a wide spectrum of events that exceed the capabilities of any single entity. These events require a unified and coordinated national approach to planning and to domestic incident management. To address this need, the President signed a series of Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs) that were intended to develop a common approach to preparedness and response. Two HSPDs that are of particular importance to emergency planners:
- HSPD-5, Management of Domestic Incidents, identifies steps for improved coordination in response to incidents. It requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate with other Federal departments and agencies and State, local, and Tribal governments to establish a National Response Plan (NRP) and a National Incident Management System (NIMS).
- HSPD-8, National Preparedness, describes the way Federal departments and agencies will prepare. It requires DHS to coordinate with other Federal departments and agencies—and with State, local, and Tribal governments to develop a National Preparedness Goal.
Together, NIMS, the NRP, and the National Preparedness Goal define what needs to be done to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from a major event; how it needs to be done; and how well it needs to be done. These efforts align Federal, State, local, and Tribal entities; the private sector; and nongovernmental agencies to provide an effective and efficient national structure for preparedness, incident management, and emergency response.