Policy Paper


Unit VII Case Study

This course provided an investigation and study of focusing events in the United States and the resulting policy changes that have resulted to improve emergency management. The textbook and lectures discussed the major events between 1900 and the present.

On March 30, 2011, the White House released a Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-8 to further enhance national preparedness for the United States. Subsequent updates have been added to the directive to further enhance national preparedness. This policy is organized around the following six elements:

1.   National Preparedness Goal

2.   National Preparedness System

3.   National Preparedness Report

4.   National Preparedness Frameworks

5.   Federal Interagency Operational Plans

6.   Build and Sustain Preparedness

Click on the following link to access the Presidential Policy Directive/PPD8: http://www.dhs.gov/

(1) use the search box; (2) enter the following term; “Presidential Policy Directive 8: National Preparedness.”  Please read the article (Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-8) posted on March 30, 2011.

Assignment directions:

Write a five-page paper, title page, and reference page (seven pages total), that analyzes each of the six elements of Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-8.

*In the introduction, provide a brief overview of what the essay will address, identify the main issues, and end with a strong, professionally-written thesis statement.

*In conclusion, include your opinion as to whether the federal government is prepared to effectively respond to the next major disaster.

*Follow the format shows below.

Paper format:

The final paper will be formatted as follows:

x     title page (one page),

x     introduction,

x     main Body (1000 words minimum),

                     -the subheading for each of the six policy element stated above

x     conclusion, and

x     reference page (one page).

Format all in-text citations and references in APA style (6th ed.). See the CSU Citation Guide for directions and examples of reference formats on pages 6-12. A minimum of three references are required.



Presidential Policy Directive

The present world is threatened by numerous kinds of hazards, ranging from natural disasters and manmade disasters, to epidemics and acts of terrorism. In the United States of America, the Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act (PKEMRA) mandates the president to develop national policies aimed at preparing the nation against all these hazards (Kahan, 2014). It is against this backdrop that President Obama issued the Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PDD-8) on March 30, 2011. The main objective of taking this step was to facilitate the development of national preparedness policies against the aforementioned hazards.

The aim of the PDD-8 is to prepare America for any threats or hazards that may occur by making the nation stronger in terms of resilience and security level (The White House, 2011). Following the PDD-8, the hazards that would have otherwise destabilized the country can be controlled or avoided altogether. This policy directive is divided further into six main elements; the Federal Interagency Operational Plans, National Preparedness Goal, National Preparedness System, National Preparedness Report, the Build and Sustain Preparedness and the National Planning Frameworks. By working together with individuals, families, businesses, non-profit groups, media outlets among other groups in the community, America can improve national preparedness significantly.

The PDD-8 not only armors the United States against any threats or hazards, both internal and external, it also ensures that most if not all threats are detected way before they occur, thus making counteraction efforts more effective. The purpose of this case study is to discuss in detail the six elements that constitute the PDD-8. Truthfully, various presidents have come up with various directives in the past; the question that remains is whether this specific PDD-8 has improved the federal government’s ability to prepare for potential disasters. As demonstrated in the analysis provided in this paper, President Obama has succeeded in using the Presidential Policy Directive to demonstrate that a nation that is well-prepared can succeed in fighting threats, hazards and disasters.

National Preparedness Goal

The journey towards the establishment of the PPD-8 started when President Obama mandated the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop the national preparedness goal. This goal was to be submitted through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism 180 days from the day of the issuance of the directive. The development process of the goal was to be a coordinated effort between all the private sectors, different levels of the government, the nonprofit sectors and the community as a whole (The White House, 2011). Accordingly, the National Preparedness Goal identifies the end-state objective to be pursued in the PDD-8.

The end-state objective of the PDD-8 is to create a nation that is more secure and resilient by involving the whole community in the preparedness process in order to prevent hazards or threats that pose the greatest risk to the country from occurring or re-occurring. It also sets out to protect the citizens of the United States as well as to mitigate, respond to and recover from the same. The National Preparedness Goal, therefore, provides a clear definition of what it means to be prepared for possible disasters, hazards and threats confronting American society.

Moreover, the National Preparedness Goal highlights 32 core capabilities that aid in tackling all the risks that the United States faces as a nation. In turn, these core capabilities are classified into five mission areas: recovery, prevention, response, protection and mitigation (Brown, 2011). Prevention refers to the core capabilities that help the country to avoid or stop an act of terrorism and protection to those whose work is to protect the citizens of the United States against these threats. Mitigation covers issues that deal with reducing the damage in the occurrence of a hazard. Response refers to the core capabilities that deal with taking quick action in the aftermath of a hazard. Lastly, recovery encompasses to the process of restoring things to the way they were before an attack or catastrophic incident.

National Preparedness System

The National Preparedness System was submitted 240 days after the directive was passed in order to be developed and submitted to the president through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. It presents programs and processes that will be needed in order to carry out all the actions that are needed to meet and achieve the ultimate objective (Presidential Policy Directive, 2011). This system involves the whole community, and it explains that the nation is best built based on collective efforts. It is composed of six parts: building and sustaining, estimating capability requirements, validating capabilities, reviewing and updating capabilities, identifying and assessing risk and planning to deliver.

Identifying and assessing risk involves going through both past and present data on potential threats, hazards or risks while estimating capability requirements determines the core capabilities that can be used to address the aforementioned threats, hazards or risks. These core capabilities are the same ones that are addressed in the classified five mission areas. Building and sustaining capabilities involves using ways like risk assessment to find means of prioritizing the limited resources in the areas with the highest probability in terms of the occurrence of a threat.  

As mentioned before, the National Preparedness System bring on board the whole community in terms of the preparedness process. In this context, planning to deliver capabilities refers to the coordination of the different organizations within a community in the preparedness efforts. Validating capabilities covers ways of finding out if the programs created or developed actually work through exercises and simulations in order to right all wrongs. Lastly, in today’s constantly changing society, reviewing and updating the capabilities goes a long way in ensuring that the nation stays one step ahead always.

National Planning Frameworks

The National Planning Frameworks component shows how working in harmony as a community can aid in achieving the end-objective of the national preparedness goal (The White House, 2011). The five frameworks that have been developed in this regard include the national prevention framework, the national response framework, national mitigation framework, national recovery framework and the national protection framework. All of them play an important role in ensuring the ultimate goal is achieved in the best way possible through what can be referred to as a common understanding of the roles and responsibilities of each organization, group and sector in the country.

First, the national prevention framework focuses on how the nation can prevent an imminent terrorist threat and detect “sleeper-cell” terrorists long before they can carry out a terrorist attack. However, should a terrorist attack occur, the framework is responsible for finding out the perpetrators? As for the national protection framework, the focus is on all the aspects that are needed or included in the protection of the nation, which include the supply chain security, detection, and interdiction of nuclear and biological weapons and cybersecurity.

Thirdly, the national mitigation framework is in charge of understanding, assessing and determining the potential threats, hazards, and disasters in all areas of the country both before and after they occur. Fourthly, the national response framework focuses on how the nation can and will respond to any attacks, threats, hazards or disasters after they occur. Lastly, the national disaster recovery framework (NDRF) deals with coming up with policies and reports on how to improve any future recovery assistance. These policies and reports play a critical role in ensuring that the same mistakes are not repeated in subsequent incidents.

Federal Interagency Operational Plans

Federal Interagency Operational Plans (FIOPs) have and are in the development stage in order to execute each of the five frameworks that are discussed in the national planning frameworks (Presidential Policy Directive, 2011). These plans outline how the state and local plans can be supported by the federal government to bring about significant results. This support serves to explain how the nation can do so much better if all the levels of the government worked together and supported each other where necessary in order to achieve the end-goal of the national preparedness program. However, this support by the federal government is only available where appropriate.

Moreover, FIOPs serve to provide a concept of operations that is very detailed in order for it to be understood by most if not all citizens (Plough et al, 2013). This concept of operations includes two very important aspects of the national preparedness goal. First, it recognizes the fact that the nation is bound to be more successful if the women and men, the employed and non-employed and other groups of the community are fully involved. Second is the fact that federal interagency cooperation, collaboration, and integration make all the more difference when it comes to achieving the national preparedness goal.

Additionally, the FIOPs describe the responsibilities in the frameworks in terms of staff, resources and sourcing requirements. By clearly laying down the roles and responsibilities of each individual, organization, or government agency, it becomes easier to execute programs. The FIOPs also identify the provisions needed in the integration of both the personnel and resources. It is worth noting that just like the national frameworks, the FIOPs are also in relation to the mission areas. They are the recovery, prevention, response, protection and mitigation FIOPs.  

Build and Sustain Preparedness

The Build and Sustain component of the PDD-8 comprises four main elements (The White House, 2011; Presidential Policy Directive, 2011). Firstly, in addition to developing the national preparedness system and goal, the building and sustenance campaign should be coordinated by the Secretary of Homeland Security. This campaign entails developing programs, both community-based and private-sector, that enhance the current state of national resilience. Moreover, it includes carrying out public outreach activities that help the reach and appeal of the message to a wider crowd.


Secondly, the provision of federal assistance in terms of grants and technical assistance is also put into consideration under this section. Without grants or financial assistance of any kind, a program or project is bound to fail. Whereas the PDD-8 provides very important and strong pillars aimed at supporting national preparedness, there has to be funds set aside to execute the programs associated with it if all the 5 elements are to work as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Besides, the build and sustain component of the PDD-8 includes the element of federal government efforts with regard to preparedness. Once the government demonstrates that it is well equipped and prepared for any hazards to come, it offers a good example to citizens in terms of fostering awareness. Equally important is the national research and development efforts of the federal administration as stipulated in the PDD-8. For any invention to occur, research has to be conducted. In the same way, the nation should invest in research to determine the best practices to adopt when dealing with national preparedness after which they can go on to develop the most appropriate programs.

National Preparedness Report

The national preparedness report is essentially a summary of all the activities and progress made towards achieving the end objective of the PDD-8 (The White House, 2011). This report should be submitted to the president through the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. All such reports need to be availed to the relevant authority for use in accurately determining whether or not the programs that have been put in place so far are working or not. Moreover, the report serves the same function as a status report especially in regards to the PKEMRA of 2006.


As shown in this discussion, the Presidential Policy Directive-8, also known as the PDD-8, is an important directive that has contributed to the preparedness level of the United States when it comes to dealing with national disasters, hazards and threats. All its six elements are of utmost relevance in raising the level of awareness regarding national preparedness. They serve as a platform for facilitating the achievement of the objective of the PDD-8 as stipulated by President Obama, which is to create a nation that is more resilient and secure. For these reasons, I feel that the federal government is prepared to effectively respond to the next major disaster.


Brown, J. T. (2011). Presidential Policy Directive 8 and the National Preparedness System: Background and Issues for Congress. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

Kahan, J. H. (2014). Preparedness revisited: W(h)ither PPD-8?. Homeland Security Affairs, 10, 12-17.

Plough, A., Fielding, J. E., Chandra, A., Williams, M., Eisenman, D., Wells, K. B. & Magaña, A. (2013). Building community disaster resilience: Perspectives from a large urban county department of public health. American journal of public health, 103(7), 1190-1197.

Presidential Policy Directive, (2011). PPD-8: National Preparedness. Washington, DC: US Department of Homeland Security.

The White House, (2011). Presidential policy directive/PPD-8. November, 24, 2013. Washington, DC: The White House.

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