HLS & EM: Blueprinting the Future

Over the past six to eight years, professionals, parents, and young people have been asking themselves how someone pursues a career in the field of homeland security. There seems to be a perception in the general public, probably because of the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003, that homeland security is a stand-alone discipline. The reality, however, is that there are numerous foundational disciplines that make up the homeland-security and emergency-management (HLS-EM) fields.

A case can be made, in fact, that the umbrella term “National Homeland Security and Emergency Management” represents an emerging and rapidly growing community of highly skilled professionals who have been working together in close cooperation for many years to improve and advance their chosen field of public service. Today, most HLS-EM policy and executive assignments are multi-disciplinary positions that have evolved over, and are the product of, many years of experience and professional development. Those positions, of course, are usually, and not incidentally, viewed by HLS-EM professionals as fitting capstones to outstanding careers. (The graphs below show a conceptual career planning map illustrating that concept.)

The Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act of 2006 (PKEMRA) accelerated the professionalism process by requiring the creation and promulgation of a national plan for developing professionals in Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The same law assigned that important task to the newly created National Integration Center (NIC) – and, more specifically, to the DHS’s Chief Learning Officer (CLO).

A Notional System & A Missing Piece One of the still missing pieces –entified in a recent Heritage Foundation lecture – is a well documented, easy-to-use system to develop, publish, organize, and communicate doctrine, publications, and career-development opportunities.eally, such a system would be accompanied by and integrated with a comprehensive web-based public-access portal for professionals and students.

This notional system – which might be described as Homeland Security Knowledge Online (HSKO) – could serve as the educational/tutorial counterpart of such proven military systems as the Army and Navy Knowledge Online (AKO, NKO) programs, both of which provide substantive and well integrated professional-development content. The Project Management Institute (PMI, a non-profit international organization headquartered in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania), has developed a parallel model with its Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and requirements for Project Management certification. The HSKO would create a similar guide to inform young people and budding professionals alike on how to build a professional career in the HLS-EM community.

Numerous Working Examples; an Abundance of Reading Matter Of course, there are many excellent sources of professional development content and information currently available, for different purposes and in a variety of formats. However, use of those materials is not intuitive for those just starting out to correlate the subject matter needed to plot a long-range HLS-EM career.

Among the more obvious, and obviously successful, examples that might be followed, however, are the following: the Naval Postgraduate School-Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL); the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI) Higher Education program, which includes resident and online training courses; the IAEM (International Association of Emergency Managers) professional development and accreditation program; the Inter-Agency Board-sponsored Responder Knowledge Base (RKB); the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium’s advanced first-responder CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives) training program; the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT) training program; numerous university degree programs in Homeland Security and/or Emergency Management; various state-level training academies; the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP); the DHS/FEMA websites; and the National Security Professional Education Program.

In addition, there also are several thousand publications, courses, policy statements, and other documents that are not currently coded, cross-referenced, or organized for easy access for use by HLS-EM professionals and students.  Without a workable system to follow, though, it is not and will never be totally clear what policies and materials are current.  One example: The National Strategy for Homeland Security (issued in October 2007) outlined a management system that could serve as a baseline framework for organizing materials. However, it is not clear, even to many professionals, whether that document itself is still current national policy.

As the HLS-EM “Community of Professionals” (including students aspiring to be professionals) continues to mature, the experienced career professionals already in the field owe it to themselves, the students, and – of the greatest importance – the nation to develop and make available to others a coherent body of knowledge that is both well organized and easily accessible. There are already many good starting points for integration that could benefit immensely from the creation of an HSKO (by whatever name it is given) and facilitate the still evolving HLS-EM professionalism process that is required to make the nation safer as a whole.

For additional information about the Heritage Foundation lecture, click on http://www.heritage.org/press/events/ev051409a.cfm

Dennis R. Schrader

Dennis R. Schrader is President of DRS International LLC and former deputy administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Preparedness Directorate. Prior to assuming his NPD post he served as the State of Maryland’s first director of homeland security, and before that served for 16 years in various leadership posts at the University of Maryland Medical System Corporation. Dennis currently provides Senior Consulting services at Integrity Consulting Solutions, LLC.



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