Past Event

Workshop on Private-Public Sector Collaboration to Enhance Community Disaster Resilience

September 9, 2009 - September 10, 2009

Location: Keck Center of the National Academies
500 Fifth St. NW Washington DC 20001

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11) on the United States prompted a rethinking of how the United States prepares for disasters. Federal policy documents written since 9/11 have stressed that the private and public sectors share equal responsibility for the security of the nation?s critical infrastructure and key assets. Private sector entities have a role in the safety, security, and resilience of the communities in which they operate. Incentivizing the private sector to expend resources on community efforts remains challenging. Disasters in the United States since 9/11 (e.g., Hurricane Katrina in 2005) indicate that the nation has not yet been successful in making its communities resilient to disaster.

The National Research Council (NRC) at the request of the Department of Homeland Security formed an ad hoc committee to assess the current states of the art and practice in private-public sector collaboration dedicated to strengthening community disaster resilience. The committee?s charge included organizing a public workshop to explore the following issues:

-Current efforts at the regional, state and community levels to develop privatepublic partnerships for the purpose of developing and enhancing community preparedness and resilience;
-Motivators, inhibitors, advantages and liabilities for private sector engagement in private-public sector cooperation in planning, resource allocation and preparedness for natural and man-made hazards;
-Distinctions in perceptions or motivations between large national-level corporations and the small business community that might influence the formation of private-public sector partnerships, particularly in smaller or rural communities;
-Gaps in current knowledge and practice in private-public sector partnerships that inhibit the ability to develop collaboration across sectors;
-Research areas that could bridge these gaps; and
-Design, development and implementation of collaborative endeavors for the purpose of strengthening the resilience of communities to natural and manmade hazards.
The committee held a 2-day workshop in Washington, DC on September 9-10, 2009. Through presentations and facilitated discussion among approximately 60 invited participants, issues related to the development of collaborations were explored. The objective of the workshop was not to determine what the goals of collaborations should be, nor was it to consider the respective roles of the private or public sectors in disaster preparedness and response. The workshop was designed to inform the NRC study committee of the characteristics of successful and enduring collaborations, and to identify elements of the cultural environment necessary for such collaborations to form and thrive. The workshop agenda was purposely organized to avoid the emotion that often accompanies discussion of past disaster response failures so that objective discussion could be focused on issues of collaboration.

Workshop participants included researchers, community organizers, representatives from business, nongovernment- and nonprofit organizations, and emergency management practitioners and leaders at the local, state, and federal levels. Individuals studying, participating in, or facilitating private-public sector collaborations in different parts of the country were invited to attend. Participants had expertise in natural disasters and science policy, disaster preparedness, crisis and risk management, disaster response, economics, public health, and other areas relevant to the discussion. Different regional perspectives were also sought.

The committee sought to understand how a community benefits from broad, resilience-focused collaboration and wanted to learn what was essential for community members to build resilience and improve disaster preparedness and recovery. A workshop goal was to understand how supporting this type of collaboration could be made a national priority.

The workshop was organized around three major themes: (1) facilitating factors and barriers to the formation of collaborations for building community resilience; (2) identification of the characteristics of effective, robust, and sustainable private-public sector collaboration at the local and state levels; and (3) encouragement of widespread development of private-public sector collaboration for enhancing community resilience.

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Workshop Summaries Resulting from this Event

Private-Public Sector Collaboration to Enhance Community Disaster Resilience: A Workshop Report (2010)

Federal policy documents written since 9/11 have stressed that the private and public sectors share equal responsibility for the security of the nation's critical infrastructure and key assets, yet coordinated disaster preparedness and response continues to be hampered by a lack of collaborative engagement between these sectors. Local governments need to collaborate with all elements of the community -- the private sector, nongovernment, an... More >>