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Ref: DHS works on internal disaster preparedness


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ICF to Work With DHS On Emergency Response

By Doug Beizer
Special to the Washington Post
Monday, February 25, 2008; D04

When a disaster strikes, the Department of Homeland Security's agencies need to be ready immediately to assist state and local officials. ICF International, a Fairfax-based consulting and technology company, has a $5.6 million contract to help make that happen.

Under the contract, ICF consultants will work alongside DHS officials in examining the department's emergency preparedness as well as with its ability to deliver services and maintain internal business functions during a disaster. Lockstep Consulting of Leesburg is ICF's partner on the project.

"DHS may have already addressed the disaster scenario, but have they thought about how to keep payroll going?" said Anita Tallarico, senior vice president of emergency management and homeland security for ICF International. "There are some mundane things DHS must continue to do in a disaster, like pay staff."

While all federal agencies have emergency-preparedness plans, often those plans do not include business continuity. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, agencies are taking fresh looks at their emergency plans, Tallarico said.

Under the contract, ICF will help the department identify its mission-essential functions. The plan also will incorporate daily business functions.

ICF and the department will examine emergency scenarios -- possibly the 15 catastrophic national scenarios developed by the White House -- to help identify DHS's mission-essential functions.

Then they will determine how DHS can deliver those functions under various scenarios.

If a blackout hit Washington and other major cities in the Northeast, for example, DHS needs to know what it will take for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be able to continue to deliver services to state and local officials.

"Our assignment is directly within the department's management directorate, but we'll also be reaching out to the other agencies, such as the Secret Service, U.S. Coast Guard, FEMA and all the other agencies that need to figure these issues out together," Tallarico said.

Recommendations developed by ICF, Lockstep and the department will be submitted to the DHS secretary. ICF also will assist with developing a training and exercise program for DHS staff to be ready to respond to incidents.

The contract is with the department's Office of Business Continuity and Emergency Preparedness. It has one base year and two options.

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