some who contemplate national resilience policy think first of the Stafford Act and its role in disaster response and recovery. Although the Stafford Act (discussed further below) does provide for certain responsibilities and actions in the face of a disaster, national resilience, as has been demonstrated throughout this report, transcends the immediate impact and disaster response and, therefore, grows from a broader set of policies. Many of the policies that affect national resilience are not related to specific hazards or disaster events at all, including some policies that may apply only to specific subsystems of a community (Longstaff et al., 2010), and others that may have effects on essential community services such as education and health care (see Chapter 5).

With this background, this chapter is developed from the idea that improvement of national resilience relies on collections of coordinated and integrated policies at multiple levels rather than a single comprehensive government policy. The subsequent sections provide context for considering policy options across the full range of stakeholders and authorities that constitute the landscape of resilience, and describes several current practices at federal, state, and local levels that support resilience, as well as policies that unintentionally undermine resilience. Identification of specific roles and responsibilities of government in building resilience flows naturally from discussion in Chapter 5 of the complementary roles and actions that communities can embrace as part of a systemic national effort to increase resilience. The interdependency and interaction of community initiatives and government policy are critical for increasing resilience (see Chapter 7 for the way in which bottom-up and top-down approaches may be linked).


Federal policies are intended to provide a set of nationally uniform laws or practices to address national needs that transcend the conditions or needs of individual states or cities. Federal policies address issues that have national scope and importance, even if the issues and consequences are local. These policies exist at the level of the Executive Branch—in both the Office of the President and in the Cabinet Departments as well as in independent federal agencies—and in laws enacted by the Legislative Branch. An outline of the most critical of the policies that the committee determined would provide support to strengthen resilience is briefly reviewed below.

Federal Executive Branch Policies Supporting Resilience

U.S. national leaders continue to seek broad policies for strengthening the nation against both terrorist acts and natural disasters. Certain Executive Branch policies, for example, are promulgated by the President through Executive Orders or Directives that guide the actions of federal agencies. These Presidential Directives and Executive Orders have the force of law. Directives

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