Author: nicole.markuski1@maryland.gov

The National Capital Region Homeland Security Enterprise Coordination Structure

Introduction

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) is a non-profit organization that is designed to facilitate collaboration and coordination across the National Capital Region (NCR) and surrounding areas. The membership includes the governments of 24 cities and counties; the State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia, and District of Columbia; and the federal government.

Given the NCR’s population, threat profile, and complexity, there is a need for regional collaboration for emergency response and public safety. This coordination is supported by MWCOG’s Department of Homeland Security and Public Safety (DHSPS). DHSPS has a full-time staff that supports groups of subject matter experts and public safety leaders from MWCOG member jurisdictions who come together to prepare for routine and large-scale emergencies. These leaders organize through a system of committees and boards.

Regional Emergency Support Function (RESF) Committees

The general approach to coordination across the region is bringing together the leaders of specific disciplines from across the NCR. These groups are organized based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Response Framework (NRF) and National Incident Management System (NIMS). The Emergency Support Functions (ESF) group together resources and capabilities based on functional areas and disciplines. These ESFs focus on a single discipline but bring together many jurisdictions and organizations responsible for providing that service. In the NCR, the active RESF committees consist of the following:

  • RESF-1: Transportation
  • RESF-2: Communications, Information Technology
  • RESF-4/9/10: Firefighting, Search and Rescue, Hazardous Materials
  • RESF-5: Emergency Management
  • RESF-6: Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Human Services
  • RESF-8: Public Health and Medical Services
  • RESF-13: Law Enforcement, Public Safety and Security
  • RESF-15: Public Information, External Affairs

Regional Emergency Support Function (RESF) Subcommittees

Each of the aforementioned RESF Committees is supported by numerous subcommittees. These subcommittees, which are comprised of subject matter experts and leaders within the discipline, focus on a specific topic, task, specialty, or capability within the discipline. As an example, RESF-4/9/10, which is also known as the Fire Chiefs Committee, is supported by subcommittees that include:

  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Fire Health and Safety
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Passenger Rail Safety
  • Technical Rescue

Regional Programmatic Working Groups

Many of the NCR’s public safety responsibilities transcend any single discipline. For these capabilities, it is necessary to bring together a diverse set of subject matter experts from a number of different fields to address the issue. Regional Programmatic Working Groups (RPWGs) are designed to be cross-disciplinary and cross-jurisdictional. Examples of NCR RPWGs include:

  • Health and Medical
  • Cyber Security
  • Situational Awareness
  • Complex Coordinated Attack

Advisory Council

The Advisory Council is a group that is tasked with collecting input across the RESF and RPWG groups, and making recommendations to the Homeland Security Executive Committee (HSEC) on issues of policy and funding. Each RESF has representation on the Advisory Council, which is appointed by membership of the respective RESF. The Advisory Council is charged with carrying out the strategic direction of the HSEC, while maintaining a feedback loop from the entire community of RESF and RPWG committees. The Advisory Council is expected to develop comprehensive solutions that complement the mission space of all disciplines and jurisdictions, while deconflicting the differing priorities across these groups.

Homeland Security Executive Committee

The Homeland Security Executive Committee (HSEC) is the policy making body of the NCR public safety community. The group is comprised of senior leadership from each of the core member jurisdictions. This includes Chief Administrative Officers (CAO) or Deputy Chief Administrative Officers (DCAO) for public safety and homeland security in the counties and cities of the NCR; the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia state directors for emergency management and homeland security; and the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Office of National Capital Region Coordination (ONCRC). The group’s mission is to help NCR jurisdictions prevent, protect against, and respond to all-hazards, public safety, and homeland security events that require regional coordination. The group establishes a shared regional vision and strategic direction based on unmet needs found in capability and risk assessments. It allocates personnel to serve on the RESFs and RPWGs to carry out the direction of the group. Through the Advisory Council, the body receives recommendations for public safety enhancements, which can lead to policy changes and funding investment. The group is the designated Urban Area Working Group (UAWG), which is ultimately responsible for the distribution of the Urban Area Security Initiative grant (UASI) for the NCR. This multi-million-dollar grant is used to support capability development and expansion throughout the NCR in accordance with the strategic vision of the HSEC.

Maryland-National Capital Region Partners Explore Approaches to Negotiation & Conflict Resolution

Eric McNulty, Associate Director Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative

Leaders from the Maryland-National Capital Region and surrounding areas recently participated in a four-part leadership seminar series focusing on different approaches to negotiation and conflict resolution. The series was hosted by The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) in partnership with Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI).

Darrell Darnell, Homeland Security and Emergency Management Subject Matter Expert Affiliated Faculty Member Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative

Following the principles of meta-leadership, this interactive program explored the dynamics of conflict, and presented pragmatic tools for managing and resolving disagreements. The program was led by NPLI Associate Director and co-author of the book You’re It, Eric McNulty, and homeland security and emergency management subject matter expert Darrell Darnell. The series also also featured presentations by NPLI Co-founding Director and You’re It co-author Dr. Leonard Marcus.

Dr. Leonard Marcus, Co-Founding Director Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative

Focusing on the roots and accelerants of conflict, participants developed an understanding of five different approaches to engaging in conflict, as well as two principal approaches to negotiation. The series concluded with participants taking part in a master class that included a negotiation and conflict resolution. The capstone activity culminated their experience, drawing on lessons learned in the course to solve the case. The program was tailored to the emergency response realm, specifically the unique characteristics and nuances of the Maryland-National Capital Region.

The program was well received by attendees and highlighted the need for further leadership development opportunities for emergency response leaders in the Maryland-NCR. As such, MDERS, in partnership with NPLI, is pleased to announce that we will be hosting another series of leadership seminars focused on connectivity and transforming your agency this fall.

For more information on future leadership seminars, please contact Nicole Markuski at Nicole.Markuski1@maryland.gov.

What is the UASI Grant Lifecycle?

The Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant lifecycle is the ten-stage process that UASI grants in the National Capital Region (NCR) go through from beginning to end.

Each year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awards UASI grants to enhance regional preparedness, and build capabilities in 31 high-threat, high-density urban areas. DHS awards these grants to State Administrative Agencies (SAAs) to administer and provide funds to localities and other eligible subrecipients to implement grant program objectives. The SAAs have a 3-year period of performance to complete UASI grant projects. Subrecipients of the SAAs are provided much shorter periods due to the time required to carry out the many grant lifecycle phases from application to closeout period. The District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (DCHSEMA) is the SAA that issues UASI subawards to the NCR, which includes the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS).  DCHSEMA provides its subrecipients an 18-month period of performance to carry out their projects, with occasional extensions for unique circumstances.

Since its inception, MDERS has become the single point of coordination for response partners across Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) is the sponsoring agency of the MDERS program. Agencies within the counties receive funds to purchase equipment and supplies that will be used for their organization’s emergency response capabilities. UASI is a reimbursement grant; therefore, MIEMSS and the counties fund the initial purchases, and are later reimbursed by DCHSEMA. MDERS is often working on four grant years at once: one in the planning stage, two open grant years, and one in the close-out process.

Lifecycle Stages

The stages of the Grant Lifecycle for NCR UASI grants are as follows:

 

  1. Call for Proposal (January, Year 1) – The Homeland Security Executive Committee (HSEC) invites proposals from government and other eligible organizations within the NCR. Proposals must adhere to the criteria laid out in HSEC’s Regional Guidance, including linking to priority capability objectives, having a clear nexus to terrorism, and benefitting operational areas.
  2. Project Selection (April, Year 1) – After careful consideration, the HSEC selects projects that align with the criteria and will advance regional priorities by focusing resources to address risks.
  3. Grant application (May, Year 1) – DCHSEMA completes DHS’ regional grant application, demonstrating how proposed projects address gaps and deficiencies in current capabilities.
  4. Federal Award to SAA (July – September, Year 1) – Upon completion of the application review process, DHS awards UASI funds to the SAA based on risk and the anticipated effectiveness of the proposed use of grant funds.
  5. SAA issues Subawards (October, Year 1) – The SAA issues subaward letters. Once they are signed by all parties, the period of performance begins for the subrecipients. The period of performance is generally an 18-month period in which the project must be completed. Occasional extensions may be granted depending on the status of the project.
  6. Completion of Project Management Plan (PMP) (October, Year 1) – Subrecipients must complete or update the PMP for each award, as per the requirements of the SAA.
  7. Project Implementation (Approx. 18 months: November, Year 1 – May, Year 3) – Subrecipients implement their projects as per the approved PMPs, while following the terms and conditions of the subawards, and all applicable federal and local laws, policies, and procedures. Subrecipients should submit reimbursement requests to the SAA as the goods and/or services are paid.
  8. Monitoring – The SAA conducts monitoring throughout the grant’s period of performance by requiring Quarterly Status Reports (QSRs), which include updates on programmatic and spending progress. Additionally, DHS and the SAA have the right to make site visits to monitor and review project accomplishments and to provide any required technical assistance.
  9. Project Closeout (June – August, Year 3) – Subrecipients must meet all project closeout reporting requirements as per the terms and conditions of the grant award, including submitting final QSRs, and providing proof of deliverables, Equipment Purchases form, and all reimbursement requests are due no later than 30 days after the end of the performance period.
  10. Audit or Site Visit – Both external and internal audits or site visits could potentially take place after the project is closed out. It is vital that the subrecipient maintains subaward files that contain complete and up-to-date records. These files may be paper or electronic, if they are easily and quickly accessible and available for review.

Fostering Strategic Leadership Development in the Maryland-National Capital Region

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) has offered countless training events in recent years. Some of the most popular include the Annual Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response Symposium and the 2019 Fall Leadership Seminar. Participants in these programs consistently requested more opportunities for leadership education and development. These requests drove MDERS, in partnership with Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI), to recently host a four-part Virtual Emergency Response Leadership Seminar Series for leaders in the National Capital Region (NCR). The series included essential tools and techniques of Meta-Leadership.

Meta-Leadership is using one’s influence, rather this his or her authority, to drive action and change. This technique cultivates leadership at all levels and allows leaders to impact far beyond their established span of control.

Eric McNulty, Associate Director Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative

The seminar series was led by NPLI Associate Director and co-author of the book You’re It, Eric McNulty. The series focused on three dimensions of Meta-Leadership—the Person, the Situation, and Connectivity—to help one better understand themselves as a leader, the challenges one faces, and how to bring stakeholders together to achieve cohesive action. The program was tailored to the emergency response realm, specifically the unique characteristics and nuances of the Maryland-NCR.

The program was well received by attendees and highlighted the need for further leadership development opportunities for emergency response leaders in the Maryland-NCR. As such, MDERS will again partner with NPLI to host the next portion of the MDERS Emergency Response Leadership Seminar Series: Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, which will start in March 2021.

This four-part, interactive program will explore the dynamics of conflict and present pragmatic tools for managing and settling it. The series will focus on the roots and accelerants of conflict. Participants will develop an understanding of the five different approaches to engaging in conflict, as well as the two principal approaches to negotiation. To wrap up the series, participants will work through a simulation on conflict and negotiation, drawing on the lessons they have learned in the first three sessions to solve the case.

To register for the for the MDERS Emergency Response Leadership Seminar Series: Negotiation and Conflict Resolution please contact MDERS Training & Exercise Specialist Hannah Thomas at Hannah.Thomas1@Maryland.gov.