National Academies Press: OpenBook

Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration (2011)

Chapter: 4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration

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Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
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CHAPTER FOUR
Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration

Achieving and sustaining community resilience are in the interest of the nation, states, communities, businesses, and citizens. Why, then, do resilient communities seem the exception rather than the rule? A partial answer to that question lies in the wide array of challenges that inhibit or block efforts to create the collaborative context required to achieve community resilience. The committee acknowledges the growing attention in this country to community disaster resilience in general and to resilience-focused private–public collaboration specifically. It also acknowledges that although numerous individual programs provide support for specific efforts, a political and social environment truly supportive of the development of community-based, sustainable, resilience-focused private–public collaboration does not exist at the national level. That, in a sense, leaves communities to determine independently how to move forward, what works, what is sustainable, and—often by trial and error—what does not work. Resources or incentive to start again following failed efforts may not exist. It is, however, in the best interest of communities to make the effort. Private–public collaboration to enhance resilience can be extremely effective when efforts are designed to be largely autonomous at the community level with ties to higher levels of government for additional support and expertise.

As a community moves forward to adopt and apply a framework for collaboration, whether the one provided in this report or another, sensitivity to the inevitable challenges is necessary. Some issues that may impede successful and sustainable private–public collaboration are described below. They have been identified by committee members and by participants in the committee’s information-gathering workshop (NRC, 2010). Some of the challenges described here may be in the category of wicked problems (discussed in Chapter 2). Some are encountered at many levels of government, and indeed, the committee offers examples that would be most familiar to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the sponsor of the present study, and that provide lessons that are scalable down to the community level. Recommended research to address some of the challenges described is discussed in Chapter 5.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

INCREASING CAPACITY AND ACCESS OF THE VULNERABLE

The most vulnerable in a community often do not have the capability, capacity, or access needed to participate in resilience-focused private–public collaborative efforts. The U.S. population is diverse, and the capacity to adopt resilience-enhancing measures, including forming or participating in private–public sector collaboration, varies considerably. A major factor preventing more widespread capacity development is that some groups are highly vulnerable, at risk for extreme events, and routinely subject to economic and social stressors. Disaster preparedness and resilience are not often on the agendas of those who deal regularly with chronic conditions and crises, such as poverty, crime, violence, serious illness, and unemployment. In addition, many groups in the United States lack firm connections to mainstream community institutions that could serve as sources of disaster-related information and social support. Such groups include non-English-speakers, people who have mental health and substance-abuse problems, elderly single persons living alone (a growing segment of the population), people who have physical disabilities, those who are homeless, and those who live in communities on a transient basis. That is not to argue that such groups lack organization and social solidarity (although many people in U.S. communities do suffer from social isolation). But the people in those groups and the organizations that serve them may not have the knowledge and access to information that would motivate or allow them to engage in resilience-enhancing collaborative efforts.

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is a vivid example of how the poor, minority, elderly, and infirm groups have not been well served in response or recovery efforts (Colten et al., 2008). Planning for evacuation in the face of an impending hurricane was extensive throughout the Gulf of Mexico region, and the evacuation before Katrina was considered largely successful. However, the needs of those who were dependent on public transportation were not taken into account (Townsend, 2006). In the days after Katrina, those left in New Orleans—including institutionalized populations and those who served them—were forced to endure extreme hardship and in many cases lost their lives. The Katrina example is not unique. The ways in which social inequality and diversity affect the ability to absorb and recover from the effects of disaster have been well documented, and social vulnerability itself is a major subject of study in disaster research (e.g., Tierney, 2007; NRC, 2006; Cutter et al., 2008).

As stated several times in this report, successful resilience-building through private–public collaboration depends on the inclusion of the full fabric of the community. Community resilience will be improved only if strategies that identify and engage the vulnerable populations in the community and in the organizations that represent them are considered and used. Addressing vulnerabilities reduces the need for response and recovery. Failing to identify vulnerable segments of the population leaves the entire community less resilient when disaster occurs.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

PERCEPTIONS OF RISK AND UNCERTAINTY

Individuals, institutions, and entire sectors often do not perceive that hazards pose unacceptable risk or that they may have a responsibility—or even the capacity—to reduce the risk. Successful resilience-focused private–public collaboration depends partially on increasing the transparency and general knowledge of risk and uncertainty. Successful collaborative strategy-building attempts to account for the lack of understanding among community members of what constitutes an extreme event and the perception that an extreme event will not affect an individual personally.

Perception is the basis of action, and inaccurate perceptions stand in the way of concerted action to promote community disaster resilience. Individuals, groups, and societies have great difficulty in understanding and acting on information related to low-probability–high-consequence events. Understanding risk is conceptually difficult and subject to biases, including focused attention on a recent or dramatic event (often to the exclusion of more probable events) or expectations about future events based on past events. As an example of the latter bias, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, evidence indicates some New Orleans minority residents chose not to evacuate their homes in spite of a mandatory evacuation order because of past experience with Hurricanes Betsy and Camille (Elder et al., 2007). They reasoned that because they were safe at home during previous storms, there would be little danger for them from Katrina; how much worse could Katrina be?

Time horizons also affect perception of risk. People may believe that a major disaster is likely to occur but not in their own lifetimes. And individuals and institutions may have the tendency to think and plan in terms of relatively short periods. That may be part of the reason why political leaders discount the future benefits of making their communities more resilient to rare events, especially if their terms in office are relatively short. Without a motivating sense of urgency, the benefits of participating in collaborative efforts may not be appreciated. Even if there is a general sense of the likelihood of a particular type of disaster, such as Californians’ wide recognition of the likelihood of earthquakes, people may find it difficult to believe that such an event will affect them personally.

Another challenge to be considered in developing collaborative strategies is related to people’s general inability to grasp the concept of uncertainty. Predictions about the future—including likelihood of disasters—always contain elements of uncertainty. However, when uncertainties appear unacceptably large, people will not act or will postpone taking action. For example, two key elements in the inability of the public and of institutions to appreciate and act on climate change are the uncertainties surrounding projections of the effects of climate change and the uncertainties related to projections on meaningful geographic and time scales (NRC, 2009). The same is true for other types of hazards: when the perceived uncertainty associated with an event and its consequences is high, action is difficult to justify.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

An important caveat is that judgments concerning “acceptable” levels of uncertainty, like those concerning acceptable risk, are social rather than scientific.

Research on societal responses to natural, technologic, and other threats shows that there is no necessary connection between understanding risks and taking action on the basis of understanding (NRC, 2006). As discussed above, even when well aware of the risks faced, some groups lack the capacity to take recommended measures, for example, because of financial, health, mental health, and language issues. The large literature on factors that affect disaster preparedness shows that better-off segments of the public—as measured by income, education, and home ownership—are generally better prepared than their less well-off counterparts (NRC, 2006).

Successful resilience-focused collaboration includes strategies to encourage organizations to develop established processes for recognizing threats and evaluating risk. That encouragement is a fight against cultural momentum. Businesses and other private-sector organizations are influenced by inaccurate and incomplete perceptions of risk and therefore might not provide the resources to mitigate risks or recognize the potential value of collaboration. The concept of enterprise risk management (ERM) has taken hold to some degree in the private sector, where it helps some firms assess their risks on an organization-wide basis, set priorities among risks, and develop consistent, comprehensive approaches to risk management.1 However, ERM is not widely practiced in the private sector and is even less prevalent in the public sector.

SCALES OF COLLABORATION

Local, regional, and national collaborative efforts are not effectively linked or harmonized. That can present a challenge to people engaged in community-based private–public collaboration as they try to identify and leverage community resources and plan implementation strategies. A mismatch exists between the scales on which many organizations operate and the scales on which resilience-enhancing actions need to be taken, sometimes making it difficult to sustain collaboration like that described in this report. Some businesses and nongovernment organizations collaborate with DHS at the national level but do not participate in local collaborative efforts in the communities where they have a physical presence. It may be difficult for a large corporation such as a national-scale retail chain to engage locally with the full fabric of the community on an ongoing basis, to collaborate nationally with DHS and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) policy makers and planners and to coordinate with other businesses on crisis supply-chain issues. Other businesses may be very active locally but are not part of regional or national collaborative

1

For example, see the Casualty Actuarial Society Web site (www.casact.org/research/erm/; accessed June 18, 2010) for more information on ERM.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

efforts coordinated by DHS and others who can provide the strategic context and programmatic funding opportunities for local efforts.

On the public-sector side, the DHS regional and local presence is fragmented, partial, and still evolving, so it is difficult to be aware of or enable local and regional resilience-focused collaboration and thus difficult for community-level collaborative structures to network vertically with them. Although some agencies in DHS (such as the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol, and the Transportation Security Agency) do have a local presence in some parts of the country and some sectors, their ties to local-level private entities are generally mission-specific rather than focused more broadly on enhancing community resilience to all hazards. FEMA has influenced and will continue to influence local resilience-building actions, for example, through its responsibilities under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 and the Stafford Act, but it has no physical presence below the regional level. It is then a challenging task for communities to identify which vertical networking points in the private and public sectors are vital and to plan their strategies accordingly.

DIVERGING INTERESTS

The interests of collaborators often diverge, and this impedes the development of trusted collaborative relationships. When diverse stakeholders engage in a joint venture, vested interests often come into play and can result in conflict and failure to agree on objectives, goals, and methods. No entity can be faulted for pursuing its own interests; doing so is natural and understandable. Problems develop, however, when actors view collaboration as a zero-sum game. Such problems can complicate resilience-enhancing efforts and the development of effective collaboration. Organizations want assurances that the benefits of engaging in collaboration outweigh the perceived loss of autonomy, the financial and reputation-related risks, and the costs associated with investment in collaborative activities. When there is a failure to provide tangible and meaningful rewards to participants in collaboration, problems develop. However, it is also important to build confidence among collaborators that working for the broader collective good benefits the individual collaborator. The building of community and societal resilience depends on the ability to acknowledge and address the priorities of diverse parties while defining and leveraging common interests through collaborative effort.

The DHS Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program (PS-Prep) is an example of how public- and private-sector interests diverge.2 DHS

2

See www.fema.gov/privatesector/preparedness/index.htm (accessed June 18, 2010). The impetus for the PS-Prep program was Title IX of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-53, 2007), which sought to increase resilience by providing incentives for private-sector preparedness. In January 2009, DHS began a series of public stakeholder meetings on the topic of standards. In October 2009, three standards for private-sector preparedness were recommended by DHS as part of PS-Prep: NFPA 1600, ASIS International SPC.1-2009, and British Standard 25999 (NFPA, 2007; ASIS International, 2009; BSI Group, 2009). A period of public comment regarding the standards followed.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

established PS-Prep as a top-down effort to promulgate voluntary resilience standards for businesses, by which collaboration is conducted in a formal process centrally managed by DHS. Predictably, private-sector responses have been mixed. The business-continuity community, a private-sector group that stands to gain considerably from the existence of the program, has been active in disseminating information about the new voluntary standards. A commentator from that sector expressed concern that the program was not receiving the emphasis warranted within DHS but also noted that critics of PS-Prep see it as “a back-door way of DHS to regulate industry and impose additional rules, regulations, and costs upon the private sector.”3 A May 2009 blog posting by IBS Publishing featured an interview with a San Francisco-area banking executive quoted as saying that “banks could endure a compliance nightmare” as a consequence of the new standards and that “while the idea is excellent, it threatens the banking industry…. So how do we—the public sector and the private sector—play together?”4 A cursory look at comments raised in public meetings reveals private-sector concerns regarding the economic burden and the training required for personnel to ensure that businesses are in compliance. Small businesses especially would feel the burden. In summary, PS-Prep has had the mixed result of defining widely accepted standards and metrics but through a process that became a deterrent to local collaborative efforts. The lesson learned from PS-Prep is scalable to the community level: it is essential for communities establishing private–public collaboration to be sensitive to and identify collaborators’ sometimes competing self-interests. It is necessary to identify incentives that will engage all sectors of the population for the community to embrace the goals and methods of collaboration.

It is best to avoid conflict and competition among those engaged in private–public collaboration and in the community more broadly. Another national-level example of how vested interests can create conflict and competition is the DHS Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI),5 which was intended to increase community and regional preparedness against terrorist attacks and other extreme events. From its inception, the initiative was focused more on traditional crisis-relevant organizations, such as fire and police departments and local emergency-management agencies, and less on other types of organizations, such as businesses, public health agencies, school districts, community-based organizations, and universities. The program was marked by various types of competition and conflict, not only among agencies at the community level but between core cities in regions and their less urbanized counterparts. Even communities receiving UASI grants saw themselves as vying against one another for funding. Competition was created simultaneously with collaboration at the community level as different community agencies sought funding on the basis of their own definitions of what was needed to combat terrorism while attempting to

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

stay within program guidelines. DHS used a centralized hierarchic approach to program development and funding for management-control and accountability reasons, and this resulted in a program that has not effectively supported and enabled community-level collaboration.

There is always a political dimension in an effort to form a collaboration of citizens, community organizations, and businesses. The community organization process itself can be coupled with and supported by a political agenda or can be seen as a threat by political parties or candidates. Once empowered, private–public collaboration may challenge existing assumptions that are themselves embedded in politics, such as assumptions about the need for unfettered community growth even in areas vulnerable to floods or other locally known threats and even if such growth may lead to larger disaster losses. To the extent that community-based coalitions become involved in debates over land use and codes, government priorities, taxes, government accountability, provision of assistance to groups to enable them to become more resilient, and participation in federal programs, their activities will be framed as political and responded to accordingly.

TRUST AMONG COLLABORATORS

Overall, there is a lack of trust among parties that collaborate to build resilience. Federal agencies compete over program dollars. State and local agencies resent federal interference. Businesses fear government regulation, direction, or control that will limit creativity and market flexibility. There is a wide cultural gap between private-sector managers and public-sector officials. Their organizational cultures, standards, and languages are different. There are too few opportunities and minimal motivation to build relationships and trust. Building the trusting relationships necessary for collaboration requires the mutual understanding of the motivations and needs of stakeholders. Once trust and collaborative relationships have been developed, there is a need to nurture them constantly. Sustainability of collaboration is dependent on collaborators trusting that the collaborative structure and strategies are correct, on their familiarity with the strengths and resources of the collaborative network, and on their commitment to collaboration for the long haul.

In a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) white paper on private–public partnerships, Flynn and Prieto (2006) traced barriers to DHS participation in collaboration and in effective enabling of the development of a community-based culture of sustainable resilience. For example, DHS management was made up primarily of personnel from the agencies that merged to form DHS and of temporary detailees from other agencies, many of whom may have remained more loyal to their parent agencies than to DHS. The agency relies heavily on contractors, including contractors in such key fields as policy and strategy development. Turnover tends to be high, morale tends to be comparatively low, and DHS personnel generally lack familiarity with the needs and resources of the private and nonprofit sectors. Those

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

circumstances make it difficult for DHS to enable or participate effectively in private–public partnerships, and the same types of circumstances will pose problems in building resilience at the community level. The CFR report points to the need to “strengthen the quality and experience of DHS and establish a personnel exchange program with the private sector to help make DHS a more effective partner to the private sector” (Flynn and Prieto, 2006:35). It is also important for community-level collaboration to consider how to familiarize those engaged with the needs and resources of other collaborators and how to build trust among them. There are examples of effective local and regional collaboration led by DHS agencies that could be used as models. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard supports local private–public harbor-safety committees and regional area-security committees that bring together government, private, and nonprofit users of ports and waterways to collaborate on safety and security issues. The Coast Guard and the National Research Council’s Transportation Research Board co-sponsor an annual conference for those committees.6

INFORMATION SHARING

Incomplete and ineffective sharing of information concerning threats and vulnerabilities constitutes a challenge to private–public collaboration. Both government and the private sector have legitimate concerns regarding the sharing of information. The private sector’s concerns include the sensitivity of its information, legal limits on information disclosure, advantages that competitors might gain through sharing, and the existence of business-to-business contracts, such as nondisclosure agreements. Private–public information sharing is often perceived as lacking appropriate balance: regulations require businesses to disclose information to government, but government may not reciprocate with information that businesses need (Flynn and Prieto, 2006).

Government agencies are also subject to privacy restrictions, transparency requirements, and security rules. They are required to protect classified information and information considered “sensitive but unclassified” and “for official use only.” At the same time, lower-level government entities and entities outside government may require such information for their own preparedness activities but must have security clearances. Those holding the information decide which entities should receive such clearances and how extensive the information dissemination should be. If key data are withheld from communities, it is conceivable that rigorous analysis of infrastructure vulnerabilities may not be possible. This may create doubt about the effectiveness of resilience-focused collaborative efforts among those engaged and the community that could lead to mistrust. Assessment of community vulnerabilities and resources is an early step of collaboration forming suggested by the committee.

6

See www.trb.org/marinetransportation1/calendar1.aspx (accessed June 20, 2010).

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

Concerns about terrorism have only increased those tensions, making even government-to-government information sharing difficult. Local communities have long contended that they should have access to threat-related information that can support their risk-management and emergency-management decision making, but collaboration between government offices on such issues has proved problematic. Federal officials have been reluctant to share threat information with local first responders and with elected and appointed officials. Further concerns are raised when law-enforcement agencies do gain access to threat information but local government leaders do not. For example, in 2005, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, ended the city’s participation in the multiagency Joint Terrorism Task Force because he was denied access to information that had been provided to Portland’s own law-enforcement officials. Such cases highlight the challenge of establishing a balance between the need to keep sensitive information out of the hands of terrorists and the need to support those responsible for protecting the public in the event of a terrorist attack (for more discussion, see Flynn and Prieto, 2006; GAO, 2005, 2008).

Several participants of the committee’s information-gathering workshop indicated that a private sector actor may hesitate to participate in private-public sector collaboration if it perceives that data or responsibilities are not shared equitably at the community level (NRC, 2010). The perception that one party, organization, or sector may carry a greater burden than another—and perhaps a greater liability because of that burden—can deter collaboration. The challenge of balancing the needs to share and to keep information by the various sectors at the community level will have to be carefully addressed by those involved in private–public collaboration.

Those collaborating might consider information as a resource and understand the limitations in the availability (and accuracy) of information as strategies are developed, activities are coordinated, and responses are implemented.

SPANNING BOUNDARIES

Organizations often do not seek, develop, or reward the organizational and individual competences needed to support collaborative efforts. Particular types of individual skills and expertise and particular types of organizational entities are required to build trusted relationships and foster collaborative action that overcomes interorganization and intergovernment boundaries. Collaboration and partnerships are often forged through the efforts of “boundary-spanning” people who venture outside their organizational cultures and are open to views and concerns of other organizations. Organizations wishing to build collaborative relationships may find they must assign boundary-spanning responsibilities to appropriate people and empower them to act. Often, however, that important role is neglected, and boundary-spanning activities are constrained. For example, public-sector officials are trained in how not to build relationships with private-sector managers (refusing free meals

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

and setting contracting restrictions and privacy requirements) instead of how to foster them. When public-sector entities interact with private ones, the interactions often center on legal and regulatory issues as opposed to voluntary and mutually beneficial collaboration. As noted above, information-sharing restrictions hamper collaboration both within and between the public and private sectors.

Effective collaboration is based on mutual understanding. However, personnel in the public, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors tend to lack cross-sectoral understanding and the capacity to obtain it. The typical business school curriculum contains little or no content on public-sector management, particularly risk and emergency management. Career civil servants may have minimal experience with and knowledge of the operations of private businesses. Similarly, both the public and for-profit sectors lack an understanding of the challenges associated with nonprofit management.

Communities benefit when they grasp the lack of common understanding and framework in fields associated with disaster risk and resilience; they also benefit from learning about examples of boundary-crossing success. For example, because of its mission in critical-infrastructure protection and because the vast bulk of that infrastructure is in private hands, DHS has the opportunity to interact with utility service providers, the banking and financial sector, as well as the other federally designated critical infrastructure sectors. FEMA administers the National Flood Insurance Program,7 which requires the agency to have relationships with private insurers and reinsurers. FEMA also interacts with the private sector on key loss-reduction issues, such as building-code provisions. The Citizen Corps program works directly with members of the public in an effort to strengthen civil-society disaster-response capabilities.8 Such entities as the Institute of Business and Home Safety,9 an insurance group, and Business Executives for National Security (BENS)10 have ties with federal government agencies. As noted earlier in this report, private–public partnerships—such as the American Lifelines Alliance, a partnership between FEMA and the American Society of Civil Engineers—provide occasions for interactions focusing on infrastructure resilience.11

Organizations, like individuals, may span boundaries. Science and technology literature and literature from such fields as environmental and climate-change policy emphasize the role of “boundary organizations” in creating necessary linkages and exchanges among entities and sectors that would otherwise not be able to understand or work well with one another. The boundary organization concept was originally developed from research on interactions among science and policy communities (see Guston, 1999, 2000, 2001), but it

7

See www.fema.gov/business/nfip/ (accessed June 23, 2010).

8

See www.citizencorps.gov/ (accessed June 23, 2010).

9

See www.disastersafety.org/ (accessed June 23, 2010).

10

See www.bens.org/home.html (accessed June 23, 2010).

11

See www.americanlifelinesalliance.org/ (accessed June 23, 2010).

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

has also been used in discussions on such topics as climate-related decision support (NRC, 2009). In that domain, for example, boundary organizations are seen as playing a useful and productive role in supporting interactions between scientists and users of scientific information. Such organizations facilitate communication not only between scientists and other constituencies, but also among diverse stakeholders; they help sustain interaction over time and provide an environment in which interorganizational conflict and competition can be minimized. The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and its Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC; see Box 4.1), the Applied Technology Council (see Box 4.2), and the Natural Hazards Center (see Box 4.3) are examples of boundary organizations that seek to address specific types of disaster-resilience needs. They perform many useful functions, as indicated by their longevity and ability to attract resources, the use of their products, and their influence on loss-reduction policies and practices (MMC, 2005).12 However, the niches that boundary organizations occupy are relatively narrow compared with the holistic goals of all-hazards resilience enhancement. It is equally important that none of those or the many other boundary organizations are explicitly concerned with working with diverse constituencies on broad-based resilience activities.

To create productive private–public collaboration, more time and effort will need to be devoted to facilitating multisector collaboration for enhanced disaster resilience. Providing training and educational experiences for private- and public-sector personnel, offering incentives to those who engage in boundary-spanning activities, and supporting and expanding the activities of boundary organizations whose missions are consistent with resilience goals will bring progress toward that goal. Multisector collaboration is unlikely on broad scales unless action is also taken at the national level to address the fragmentation and lack of coordination, discussed below, that currently characterize societal efforts to improve disaster resilience. If the status quo is allowed to persist, resilience-focused collaboration will continue to be narrow, specialized, noninclusive, uneven, and uncoordinated across all sectors of society and in terms of resilience objectives.

FRAGMENTATION, INCONSISTENCIES, AND LACK OF COORDINATION

Although the United States had previously embraced a comprehensive, all-hazards approach to emergency management, the events of September 11, 2001 led to, among other things, a host of new programs and funding opportunities to enhance community resilience. It also, however, helped to create a bifurcated national emergency-management system that both elevated terrorist threats above other threats and led to the proliferation of separate systems for terrorism and hazards management at state and local levels. Executive orders,

12

For example, the NIBS MMC study was conducted in response to a congressional mandate and demonstrated through the use of rigorous analytic approaches that investments in mitigation result in savings to the nation and the federal treasury.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

BOX 4.1

The National Institute of Building Sciences

The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and its Multihazard Mitigation Council are examples of boundary organizations that seek to address specific types of disaster-resilience needs. According to their Web site, NIBS

…is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that successfully brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests, and regulatory agencies to focus on the identification and resolution of problems and potential problems that hamper the construction of safe, affordable structures for housing, commerce and industry throughout the United States. Authorized by the U.S. Congress, the Institute provides an authoritative source and a unique opportunity for free and candid discussion among private and public sectors within the built environment.a

The Multihazard Mitigation Council (MMC), one of several councils that operate under the auspices of NIBS, was responsible for the report Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves (MMC, 2005), which established that investments in mitigation projects and process activities are cost-effective. Like other NIBS councils, the MMC provides a continuing venue for discussion among entities in the private and public sectors. MMC members include universities, state officials, a federal agency (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), professional societies, producers of safety devices, and engineering consulting firms.

  

a See www.nibs.org (accessed June 23, 2010).

BOX 4.2

The Applied Technology Council

The Applied Technology Council (ATC), a nonprofit organization in Redwood City, California, is another type of boundary organization. Founded in 1973 by members of the Structural Engineers Association of California, ATC works to transfer state-of-the-art loss-reduction engineering knowledge to the practicing engineering community. Although concentrating to a great extent on earthquake-engineering safety issues, the organization has branched out into engineering challenges associated with other hazards. ATC maintains a longstanding relationship with FEMA, which sponsors its guidance documents and training activities on seismic-performance design guidelines. ATC also engages in knowledge-transfer activities under the sponsorship of a variety of other agencies and entities, including city governments and engineering research consortia. As a boundary organization, ATC plays a distinctive role in using funds provided by such agencies as FEMA to develop guidelines aimed at turning research into practice through direct interactions with the engineering community.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

BOX 4.3

The Natural Hazards Center

The Natural Hazards Center (NHC) at the University of Colorado was established in 1976 specifically to address what was then referred to as the knowledge–practice gap in adjustments to natural hazards. Like the other organizations discussed here, the NHC serves as a boundary organization for several segments of the disaster loss-reduction community. Supported by the National Science Foundation and a small group of agencies whose missions center on reducing disaster losses, the NHC engages in a variety of outreach and educational activities that include a newsletter, The Natural Hazards Observer; a Web site, hosted chats, and a blog; support for quick-response research; an annual workshop specifically designed to generate interaction among different constituencies in universities, government, international loss-reduction agencies and organizations, and the private sector; a library and information service; dissertation fellowships; and various monographs and special publications. The NHC takes a multidisciplinary approach to disaster resilience, but its strongest constituencies are social-science researchers and the emergency-management community.

such as HSPD-513 and HSPD-8,14 placed overwhelming emphasis on terrorism preparedness, which led to further balkanization of the emergency-management community. In response to federal leadership, states began to develop stand-alone homeland security departments, separate from traditional emergency-management agencies. Concern with terrorism and the accompanying new funding opportunities led to the development of specialized homeland security partnership networks at federal, state, and local levels that were largely independent of networks already established by the traditional emergency-management agencies. Immediate concerns led to effective partnerships that addressed counterterrorism (e.g., joint terrorism task forces), infrastructure protection (e.g., information-sharing and analysis centers—ISACs15 and Sector Coordinating Councils16), and port security (e.g., area security committees). Many such partnerships have been productive, but they tend to depend on federal programs and funding that emphasize collaboration at the national level and do not translate easily to practical local collaboration. Moreover, as noted earlier, networks established for purposes of securing the homeland exhibit chronic problems with information sharing among organizations and levels of government. In addition to generating suspicion on the part of potential partners, information-sharing problems stand in the

13

See www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/hspd-5.html (accessed June 30, 2010).

14

See www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/hspd-8.html (accessed June 30, 2010).

15

Eight infrastructure industries were defined as critical to the national economy and well-being by Presidential Decision Directive 63 (PDD 63) in 1998. PDD 63 also proposed the creation of the ISACs (see www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/pdd/pdd-63.htm; accessed June 23, 2010).

16

See www.dhs.gov/files/partnerships/editorial_0206.shtm (accessed August 6, 2010).

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

way of the kinds of comprehensive engagement that are needed to develop and nurture resilient collaborative networks.

The fragmentation, inconsistency, and lack of coordination that exist among agencies and entities that have programs and policies in place intended to enhance resilience actually inhibit collaborative efforts. Within the federal family alone, different agencies and subagencies seek to build effective private–public collaboration aimed at coping with hazards, but the efforts are largely uncoordinated. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency sponsor programs aimed at developing local and regional private–public partnerships and supporting decision making in response to climate change and variation and the extreme events that these changes generate (NRC, 2009). The highly successful U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service17 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Sea Grant Network18 are examples of current federal engagement in partnerships to facilitate action and capacity at the community level. FEMA’s responsibilities include the development of private–public partnerships for disaster resilience, as do those of its parent agency. The Department of Health and Human Services National Healthcare Facilities Partnership provides funding to improve the surge capacity and disaster preparedness of hospitals and their communities in specific geographic areas through, in part, the strengthening of relationships among the private and public sectors prior to emergencies.19 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are involved in preparedness for all hazards through their Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) program that provides up-to-date information to clinicians and two-way communication regarding emerging threats to health.20

Many other agencies and offices in DHS, including those charged with infrastructure protection, also aim to achieve resilience goals. One of the 13 divisions of the Obama administration’s National Security Council21 is charged with enhancing the nation’s resilience to all threats. The recently released National Security Strategy identifies resilience as one of the nation’s top security priorities (The White House, 2010). Similarly, groups such as the International City/County Management Association,22 the National Governors Association,23 and the National Association of County and City Health Officials24 are beginning to focus efforts on issues of resilience, but are not working collaboratively on resilience issues, creating challenges at the community level. Despite this new emphasis and impetus there

17

See www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/ (accessed July 1, 2010).

18

See www.seagrant.noaa.gov/ (accessed July 1, 2010).

19

See www.phe.gov/preparedness/planning/nhfp/Pages/default.aspx (accessed September 20, 2010).

20

See emergency.cdc.gov/coca/about.asp (accessed September 20, 2010).

21

The Obama administration merged the Homeland Security Council and the National Security Council.

22

See icma.org/en/icma/about/organization_overview (accessed August 27, 2010).

23

See www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.b14a675ba7f89cf9e8ebb856a11010a0 (accessed August 30, 2010).

24

See /www.naccho.org/ (accessed August 31, 2010).

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

appears to be little collaboration occurring among all of these organizations, and there is confusion at the community level when private–public collaborative efforts seek information, funding, and other resources.

At the community level, those engaged in collaborative efforts have to be prepared for the lack of coordination among the programs and funding streams intended to support resilience-focused programs; this lack of coordination can lead to conflict and competition among collaborators. Federal funding, often the source of local resilience-focused initiatives, is channeled in narrowly defined programmatic stovepipes. Local area governments try to achieve integrated community goals by using uncoordinated funding streams, such as UASI funds, Public Health Emergency Preparedness funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,25 housing funds from the Department of Housing and Urban Development,26 Coastal Resilience Network funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,27 and FEMA postdisaster mitigation funds.28 In such a fragmented and uncoordinated climate, it is understandable that community-level resilience is difficult to generate. That does not mean that resilience-focused private–public collaboration at the community level is not possible and should not occur; rather, communities should be aware of the political climate and strategize accordingly. Private–public collaboration can be the ideal means to leverage disparate federal resources for the benefit of the entire community and thus avoid community-level competition between different sectors.

DEVELOPING METRICS

Few metrics exist to quantify the benefits of collaboration. There is, therefore, little empirical evidence to support funding and policy decisions intended to improve community resilience. An independent study by the MMC attempted to quantify future savings from hazard mitigation activities funded through three major natural hazard mitigation grant programs, including Project Impact, and the results indicated that each dollar spent on FEMA mitigation grants saved society an average of four dollars (MMC, 2005). However, the goals of community resilience building are defined generally as concepts, not as observable and measurable outcomes. The inability to measure and evaluate the outcomes of collaboration makes it more difficult for organizations and individuals to commit to collaborative solutions.

Case studies like those associated with Project Impact tend to be anecdotal. Longitudinal data are seldom collected, and confounding variables that are linked to outcomes are not

25

See www.bt.cdc.gov/planning/ (accessed June 30, 2010).

26

See portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/program_offices/administration/grants/fundsavail (accessed June 30, 2010).

27

See www.csc.noaa.gov/funding/ (accessed August 9, 2010).

28

See www.fema.gov/government/grant/hma/index.shtm (accessed June 30, 2010).

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
×

identified (Magsino, 2009; NRC, 2010). It is difficult to get many people and organizations to commit to a process when the destination is not known and effective means of measuring progress do not exist. People respond best when outcomes can be observed and measured. Businesses are reluctant to commit when the costs of collaboration are clear but the benefits are not. Participating in collaboration is often a function of individual commitment and willingness to accept risk. In most organizations, however, people are rewarded only for activities that are measured, so individual success in building essential collaboration is typically unrewarded.

Communities will probably not have the resources to develop the kinds of metrics needed for quantitative evaluation of increases in resilience and similar factors resulting from their resilience-focused private–public collaborations. Until research shows how such outcomes can be measured, communities can develop goals and mechanisms to meet them that include discreet milestones to describe the effectiveness of collaboration. Such descriptions may not completely quantify the outcomes for funding or policy-development purposes, but they can keep high or raise enthusiasm for engagement.

REFERENCES

ASIS International. 2009. SPC.1-2009 Organizational Resilience Standard Adopted by the DHS in PS-Prep. Alexandria, VA. Available at www.asisonline.org/guidelines/or.xml (accessed June 30, 2010).

BSI Group. 2009. BS 25999 Business continuity. London, UK: British Standards Institution. Available at www.bsigroup.com/en/Assessment-and-certification-services/management-systems/Standards-and-Schemes/BS-25999/ (accessed June 30, 2010).

Colten, C. E., R. W. Kates, and S. B. Laska. 2008. Community Resilience: Lessons from New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Oak Ridge, TN: Community & Regional Resilience Institute. Available at www.rwkates.org/pdfs/a2008.03.pdf (accessed August 31, 2010).

Cutter, S. L., L. Barnes, M. Berry, C. Burton, E. Evans, E. Tate, and J. Webb. 2008. A Place Based Model for Understanding Community Resilience to Natural Disasters. Global Environmental Change 18(4): 598-606.

Elder, K., S. Xirasagar, N. Miller, S. A. Bowen, S. Glover, and C. Piper. 2007. African Americans’ Decisions not to Evacuate New Orleans Before Hurricane Katrina: A Qualitative Study. American Journal of Public Health 97(S1): 124-129.

Flynn, S. E., and D. B. Prieto. 2006. Mobilizing the Private Sector to Support Homeland Security. Washington, DC: Council on Foreign Relations. Available at www.cfr.org/publication/10457/neglected_defense.html (accessed June 30, 2010).

GAO (Government Accountability Office). 2005. Clear Policies and Oversight Needed for Designation of Sensitive Security Information. GAO-05-677. Washington, DC. Available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d05677.pdf (accessed August 4, 2010).

GAO (Government Accountability Office). 2008. Definition of the Results to be Achieved in Terrorism-Related Information Sharing is Needed to Guide Implementation and Assess Progress. GAO-08-637T. Washington, DC. Available at www.gao.gov/new.items/d08637t.pdf (accessed August 4, 2010).

Guston, D. H. 1999. Stabilizing the boundary between U.S. politics and science: The role of the Office of Technology Transfer as a boundary organization. Social Studies of Science 29(1): 87-112.

Guston, D. H. 2000. Between Politics and Science: Assuring the Integrity and Productivity of Research. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Guston, D. H. 2001. ‘Boundary organizations’ in environmental policy and science: An introduction. Science, Technology, and Human Values 26: 399-408.

Suggested Citation:"4 Challenges to Sustainable Resilience-Focused Collaboration." National Research Council. 2011. Building Community Disaster Resilience Through Private-Public Collaboration. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13028.
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Magsino, S. 2009. Applications of Social Network Analysis for Building Community Disaster Resilience: Workshop Summary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

MMC (Multihazard Mitigation Council). 2005. Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: An Independent Study to Assess the Future Savings from Mitigation Activities. Washington, DC: National Institute of Building Sciences. Available at www.nibs.org/index.php/mmc/projects/nhms/ (accessed June 30, 2010).

NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). 2007. NFPA 1600: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. Available at www.nfpa.org/assets/files/pdf/nfpa1600.pdf (accessed June 30, 2010).

NRC (National Research Council). 2006. Facing Hazards and Disasters: Understanding Human Dimensions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

NRC (National Research Council). 2009. Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

NRC (National Research Council). 2010. Private-Public Sector Collaboration to Enhance Community Disaster Resilience: A Workshop Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Public Law 110-53. 2007. Title IX – Private Sector Preparedness. Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007. August 3. Available at www.nemronline.org/TITLE IX Private Sector Preparedness.pdf (accessed June 30, 2010).

Tierney, K. J. 2007. From the margins to the mainstream? Disaster research at the crossroads. Annual Review of Sociology 33: 503-525.

Townsend, F. F. 2006. Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned. Washington, DC: Washington Government Printing Office. February. Available at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/reports/katrina-lessons-learned/ (accessed June 30, 2010).

The White House. 2010. National Security Strategy, available at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf (accessed August 6, 2010).

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Natural disasters--including hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods--caused more than 220,000 deaths worldwide in the first half of 2010 and wreaked havoc on homes, buildings, and the environment. To withstand and recover from natural and human-caused disasters, it is essential that citizens and communities work together to anticipate threats, limit their effects, and rapidly restore functionality after a crisis.

Increasing evidence indicates that collaboration between the private and public sectors could improve the ability of a community to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Several previous National Research Council reports have identified specific examples of the private and public sectors working cooperatively to reduce the effects of a disaster by implementing building codes, retrofitting buildings, improving community education, or issuing extreme-weather warnings. State and federal governments have acknowledged the importance of collaboration between private and public organizations to develop planning for disaster preparedness and response. Despite growing ad hoc experience across the country, there is currently no comprehensive framework to guide private-public collaboration focused on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

Building Community Disaster Resilience through Private-Public Collaboration assesses the current state of private-public sector collaboration dedicated to strengthening community resilience, identifies gaps in knowledge and practice, and recommends research that could be targeted for investment. Specifically, the book finds that local-level private-public collaboration is essential to the development of community resilience. Sustainable and effective resilience-focused private-public collaboration is dependent on several basic principles that increase communication among all sectors of the community, incorporate flexibility into collaborative networks, and encourage regular reassessment of collaborative missions, goals, and practices.

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