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New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Hurricane Sandy Response After Action Report Notes July

Hurricane Sandy Response

Security and Emergency Services Hurricane Sandy Response After Action Report Notes July 1, 2013 Prepared by

After Action Report Notes

Services Hurricane Sandy Response After Action Report Notes July 1, 2013 Prepared by The National Center
Services Hurricane Sandy Response After Action Report Notes July 1, 2013 Prepared by The National Center
Services Hurricane Sandy Response After Action Report Notes July 1, 2013 Prepared by The National Center
Services Hurricane Sandy Response After Action Report Notes July 1, 2013 Prepared by The National Center

July 1, 2013

Prepared by The National Center for Security & Preparedness

by The National Center for Security & Preparedness UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION//EYES ONLY NOTE: Blue-bold ed and italicized texts contain

NOTE: Blue-bolded and italicized texts contain information intended only for the Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED
State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary

Areas of Study

Personnel

Technology & Facilities

Policies & Procedures

Concluding Recommendations

Policies & Procedures Concluding Recommendations 4 6 11 15 22 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE
Policies & Procedures Concluding Recommendations 4 6 11 15 22 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Hurricane Sandy sorely tested a New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Emergency Management (OEM) which was still in the process of implementing changes and improvements prompted by the response to 2011's Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Although a relatively weak storm in terms of wind speeds, Sandy was extraordinarily large in size and impeccable in her timing, striking the New York and New Jersey coastlines at high tide. The resulting storm surge caused unprecedented damage, smashing coastal communities in both states, flooding large areas of New York City, and disrupting transportation, energy and communications for millions of residents.

energy and communications for millions of residents. The storm caused 48 fatalities in New York State,

The storm caused 48 fatalities in New York State, and another 24 in neighboring states. Property damage exceeded $72 billion (second only to Katrina). Despite efforts by city, county, state and federal emergency agency personnel that can only be described as heroic, Hurricane Sandy for a time simply overwhelmed every plan and contingency. The scale of the event was larger and the needs of the victims greater than most communities had anticipated.

OEM was and continues to be centrally involved in the Hurricane Sandy response and recovery effort, with the agency's staff working endless hours and days to meet the needs of the people of New York State. For the most part, OEM's performance can be considered successful despite confusion, delays and missteps along the way. In the words of many who were involved in the process and interviewed for this report, it could have been worse. But is that outcome acceptable? Moreover, if a Category 2 or 3 hurricane followed the path of Sandy and struck New York and New Jersey coastlines under similar conditions in the future, would even that level of marginally acceptable performance be replicable?

level of marginally acceptable performance be replicable? Many of the problems OEM encountered in mounting operations

Many of the problems OEM encountered in mounting operations for Sandy were predictable, echoing gaps and shortfalls called out after the Irene and Lee responses the previous year. Staffing, technology and doctrine were issues in 2011 and they remained issues in 2012 although the challenging circumstances of the Sandy response certainly exacerbated those problems. Many of these pre-existing conditions were being addressed, albeit slowly, when Sandy literally appeared on the horizon and forced the question. The answer is still the same: New York State does not have a world-class emergency management capability.

does not have a world-class emergency management capability. OEM is extremely understaffed. By comparison, Iowa's

OEM is extremely understaffed. By comparison, Iowa's emergency management agency, serving a state with the same area as New York but only a sixth the population, is as large as OEM. The profound demands on an overtaxed staff during its many activations, as well as underperformance by a vocal and unmotivated minority have severely degraded morale and compromised effectiveness. Designating emergency management staff as nonessential personnel to facilitate early retirements and a subsequent failure to fill empty positions has further eroded OEM's capabilities.

empty positions has further eroded OEM's capabilities. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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OEM's underlying technology base is out of step with other states and even other jurisdictions in New York. The Emergency Operations Center is a Cold War relic located in a bunker in Albany, dressed up with updated communications equipment and computers. It is physically ill-suited to supporting sustained, complex operations, to the point that the Governor chooses NOT to use the facility personally during emergencies. DLAN, the emergency management support software used by OEM to collect and fulfill resource requests, is insufficiently understood by many staff, requires substantial on-site contractor support, and is incompatible with systems used by other jurisdictions and agencies (including, prominently, New York City, Suffolk and Nassau Counties).

prominently, New York City, Suffolk and Nassau Counties). Many of OEM's established plans and procedures were

Many of OEM's established plans and procedures were inadequate, scarcely understood, or ignored during the Sandy response, and response personnel were not trained in their content and use. Improvisation during a disaster can be the highest demonstration of the emergency manager's art, but it needs to be founded on solid foundational principle. During Sandy, the gaps between policy and practice, whether tracking the deployment of generators and other resources, the application of the Incident Command System in the management of the EOC, or deployment of headquarters staff to a forward location in New York City to support the State's response, resulted in confusion, inefficiencies and disgruntled staff throughout OEM. The sense of confusion was undoubtedly heightened by the downstate deployment of senior agency leaders, which may have been logical from a tactical perspective but was, in all likelihood, a strategic mistake.

perspective but was, in all likelihood, a strategic mistake. The lessons learned from the Hurricane Sandy

The lessons learned from the Hurricane Sandy response are clear because many of the notwithstanding, the State of New York and OEM need to move forward quickly on all fronts to ensure the citizens of the Empire State have the response capability they not only deserve but, based on recent events, need.

they not only deserve but, based on recent events, need. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED
they not only deserve but, based on recent events, need. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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AREAS OF STUDY

PERSONNEL

STRENGTHS

Strong sense of commitment by most staff to the mission. Demonstrated expertise delivering emergency management services. Succeeded in the face of unprecedented challenges. Effective collaboration with volunteers from other agencies in EOC operations.

with volunteers from other agencies in EOC operations. An organization succeeds or fails on the quality

An organization succeeds or fails on the quality and commitment of its personnel. While OEM has a number of significant personnel issues, including staffing, the overall performance of its staff during the run-up to, during and after Sandy was remarkable. OEM staff worked long hours supporting a mission that was dynamic, challenging and often frustrating. The dedication reflected throughout extended operations ultimately made an important difference between success and failure.

The men and women of OEM were asked to work 12-hour shifts under difficult conditions for extended days. For some, due to additional tasks and understaffing, that translated into 16+ hour days, which they accepted as a necessary part of accomplishing the mission. The dedication of OEM staff in Albany and in the field was critical to the success of the response over a series of seemingly never-ending days. The experience of a small number of long- serving professionals in past events helped compensate for too many vacant positions in the organization, allowing OEM to mount a response that met the majority of the unprecedented needs of the citizens of New York State in a timely and effective manner.

citizens of New York State in a timely and effective manner. A number of OEM personnel
citizens of New York State in a timely and effective manner. A number of OEM personnel

A number of OEM personnel forfeited vacation time to stay at their posts. Others labored to the point of exhaustion, staying at their position despite the physical and emotional stress born of a long-term round-the-clock activation. Moreover, OEM staff members were leveraged to provide needed expertise and leadership to EOC volunteers from other State agencies.

OEM personnel deserve recognition for their contributions to public safety during and after it is a testimonial to these public employees that they have largely found ways to succeed in that pursuit.

they have largely found ways to succeed in that pursuit. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Profoundly understaffed for both routine and emergency operations. Loss of experienced and knowledgeable senior staff through early retirements and interagency transfers. Regional personnel must be bolstered. Poor morale and sense of purpose.

must be bolstered. Poor morale and sense of purpose. Staffing Staffing within OEM has been reduced

Staffing Staffing within OEM has been reduced 50% over the past two years, from the 2011 level of 125 to approximately 65 (post-Sandy). Force reductions, including the budget-driven decision to leave open positions vacant means New York State OEM has roughly the same number of staff as agencies in states with 80% fewer residents. This translates into a hard crunch for OEM during both routine and emergency operations.

During routine operations, OEM staff is carrying out a broad range of tasks, including the development of plans, conduct of exercises and delivery of training. They are also tasked with managing the disbursement and use of hundreds of millions of dollars of Federal grant funds and payments, including monies for victims of past disasters. This process is labor intensive; the shortage of trained personnel delays getting funds into the hands of citizens and emergency agencies across New York.

hands of citizens and emergency agencies across New York. The situation is exacerbated during emergencies such

The situation is exacerbated during emergencies such as Sandy, where the lack of personnel (both experienced senior staff and junior ranks) forced many OEM employees to work beyond their 12 hour shifts for days on end. Some staff were pressed into positions for which they had not been trained, and many assignments and requests were delayed due to the lack of

assignments and requests were delayed due to the lack of t exists has a lot of

t exists has a lot of ability but very little

knowledgeable personnel being positioned to fulfill orders and respond to calls for information. As one consequence, applications for disaster recovery staff labored on the new disaster.

The lack of trained staff also adversely impacted the integration into the EOC of untrained volunteers from other State agencies. Upon arrival, several representatives had almost no experience, receiving training (EEOC, 300, and 400 classes) from OEM staff. The lack of experience impacted the use and assignments of individual volunteers (leading to tensions). Additionally, there were several conflicts regarding time commitments and responsibilities of those new to the EOC environment.

and responsibilities of those new to the EOC environment. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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Loss of Experienced Staff The reduction in staffing levels noted above was in part achieved by designating management-level personnel within OEM as nonessential and therefore eligible for early retirement. The resulting departure of decades of institutional memory and experience has left the agency with middle and senior managers possessing response experience. The only professional experience for the majority of Operations staff has been with OEM Ops. The loss of senior personnel and the gross staffing numbers mean that a number of key positions are, at times at least, filled by employees lacking practical experience and the appropriate training for their responsibilities. OEM needs to recruit and retain more qualified staff, preferably with operational experience. In the past, there were opportunities to train and partner with replacements; that cycle is not currently working.

with replacements; that cycle is not currently working. There is a need to address differences among

There is a need to address differences among positions to ensure both the slot and incumbent match OEM requirements. Cross-training among key staff can help to support retention of staff and institutional knowledge. !! Moreover, there is a need for a clearly defined and meaningful professional development/career path for OEM personnel. EMAC staff can address some of the gaps, as they did during Sandy. It is critical, however, that they appreciate the NY State and OEM environments and that they be engaged in a more timely manner, if possible. EMAC supported key shortfalls; which, if provided sooner, would have helped mitigate some issues that occurred.

would have helped mitigate some issues that occurred. Staff Sustainment The sustainability of OEM staff at

Staff Sustainment The sustainability of OEM staff at all levels does not appear to be a sufficiently high priority. A strong, extended over time. There is no specific office or individual assigned the broad responsibility for the maintenance of staff well-being. Even prior to landfall, several individuals had been working 14-to-16 hour days. Many in the EOC were already tired and underperforming before the full activation was ordered.

and underperforming before the full activation was ordered. Currently, professional development, staff sustainment, and

Currently, professional development, staff sustainment, and succession planning have not received sustained commitment. This hinders a sense of professionalism and personnel retention, as well as the reputation of the EOC with public and private sector communities.

There were some promising efforts made to address quality of life in the EOC (e.g., wellness/stress management, counseling, massage therapy, etc.). However, the lack of overall investment in the well-being of the regular OEM staffers and the volunteers from outside agencies, combined with the extremely high pressure associated with the Sandy response and a strong sense of being underappreciated (see Poor Morale, below) vastly outweighed those measures.

(see Poor Morale, below) vastly outweighed those measures. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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Poor Morale Morale within OEM in general, and among EOC staff in particular, was low before Sandy made landfall, went downhill during Sandy-related operations, and remains that way in the post-Sandy environment. Unity of purpose was eroded by inadequately communicated decisions to go outside standard operating procedures (e.g., actions -leaning and forward presence), unavailability of senior and middle leadership at key moments, and slipshod communication and change management relating to the as of yet incomplete merger.

management relating to the as of yet incomplete merger. The current culture within the EOC allows

The current culture within the EOC allows unhealthy, unprofessional, and negative practices and influences to go unchecked. This is due to a number of factors including frequent changes in leadership, the physical properties of the EOC itself, deficient professional development strategies, and weak internal communications at virtually every organizational level. Many office personnel primarily identify with sub-units within OEM, perceiving themselves to be in competition or conflict with other teams of co-workers. Throughout Hurricane Sandy, there were several examples where individuals specifically withheld or failed to share information with other OEM staff.

Sandy had a strong negative impact on OEM personnel, reflected in the decision of several senior managers to leave government and/or DHSES service following the activation. Several people more than should be reasonably expected rose to the occasion and filled multiple positions. But there were instances of "act out: get out" by staff both within OEM and from outside agencies who wanted to be relieved of EOC duties during the operation.

wanted to be relieved of EOC duties during the operation. The consequences of poor morale can

The consequences of poor morale can be seen in the dramatic negative reaction within the EOC ranks to the deployment of key OEM staff to establish a New York City-based decision, early in the Sandy response, was made to better provide supporting information to the Governor and other key decision- Midtown Manhattan.

and other key decision- Midtown Manhattan. While logical in an abstract sense one of the primary

While logical in an abstract sense one of the primary functions of OEM is, of course, to provide the Governor and his staff with the information needed to make decisions dividing an already understaffed agency placed a heavy burden on personnel in both NYC and Albany. Openly referring (as one senior official did) to the ROC designees as - - EOC was being denigrated and abandoned. Moving so many senior persons downstate (including the Director) meant the EOC was functioning without the benefit of its most experienced managers. It also meant that virtually no one was available to effectively communicate the reasoning behind the ROC to the Albany staff.

the reasoning behind the ROC to the Albany staff. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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It also represented just one of many senior-level decisions that, if not contrary to existing policies and procedures, certainly went beyond established OEM practice. For many OEM personnel, particularly those with limited non-OEM experience, existing procedures and policies provide the solid base upon which their positions rest. The expectation among many staff that there will be an investigation following any major government operation in New York State has created a sense among many State employees that the only way to carry on is by practicing a strictly-by-the-book, risk avoidance strategy. Changes on the fly are unsettling for many, while others view them as counterproductive and even illegal. The unprecedented challenges posed by the Sandy response prompted several major decisions to work around established policy, which in turn created concern, anxiety and even anger among OEM staff.

created concern, anxiety and even anger among OEM staff . UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED
created concern, anxiety and even anger among OEM staff . UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED
created concern, anxiety and even anger among OEM staff . UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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TECHNOLOGY & FACILITIES

STRENGTHS

DLAN reflects the requirements of OEM. EOC technology base is first class. GIS is being employed to support EOC operations and decision making.

employed to support EOC operations and decision making. New York State OEM has access to the

New York State OEM has access to the full range of technology necessary to support emergency operations across the state. As evidenced throughout the Sandy response, there were no meaningful barriers to data, voice and visual communications between the EOC in Albany and personnel operating in County- New York City.

management support system, it should be noted that OEM personnel familiar with and trained in the use of DLAN feel it is an effective tool for supporting EOC operations. Over the past decade it has been customized to meet the needs of OEM and has a proven track record with many of the EOC staff. Contractor staff (on-site at the EOC) is highly knowledgeable of OEM operations and is responsive to requests to prepare reports and provide assistance to new users.

to prepare reports and provide assistance to new users. The most frequent source of frustration expressed

The most frequent source of frustration expressed by those who have used DLAN on a regular basis is that personnel from other agencies as well as county emergency management agencies have not been adequately trained to use the system. Personnel that use DLAN every day (e.g., Ops and the Watch Center staff) felt it worked very well.

Ops and the Watch Center staff) felt it worked very well. OEM employs GIS to present

OEM employs GIS to present information on a wide range of subjects of importance to employ a wide range of tools in support of the Office and its mission.

range of tools in support of the Office and its mission. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

DLAN is viewed by non-OEM users as inadequate.

Asset tracking is a major area for investment.

The EOC as configured is not conducive to effective operations.

EOC as configured is not conducive to effective operations. DLAN The principal tool used by OEM

DLAN The principal tool used by OEM to obtain and manage requests for assistance from counties across the State is DisasterLAN. Although the State has invested substantially over the past decade in making DLAN the electronic backbone for OEM incident management, it is widely viewed by emergency managers at the local level (as well as by other State agencies) as cumbersome, inefficient, and inflexible. In addition, other jurisdictions in New York have invested in other technologies that are unable to communicate with DLAN. As a consequence, many officials across the State view DLAN as an impediment to effective incident management.

Criticisms of DLAN were heard at every level of government and centered around problems of usability and compatibility. Specific objections include:

of usability and compatibility. Specific objections include: Preparing a mission request form/ticket is time consuming
of usability and compatibility. Specific objections include: Preparing a mission request form/ticket is time consuming

Preparing a mission request form/ticket is time consuming and non-intuitive; Since DLAN is felt to be too hard to use, it is not used on a daily basis by most OEM staff nor by local-level responders, which means most personnel are not familiar with its operation; Tracking the status of specific entered requests is difficult, making management and planning for those resources and assignments challenging; DLAN does not readily allow users to generate custom reports the DLAN contractor at the EOC must develop these for users; DLAN is not compatible with WebEOC and eTeam, the systems in use in most counties and major cities in the State, including New York City, which means data must be entered twice and that the databases downstate and in Albany cannot speak to each other.

Additional complaints speak to gaps between what DLAN provides and what is needed to support logistics and procurement, particularly during a crisis. DLAN was never designed to be a resource management tool, but has the capability to do so with customization. However, unless the state and local jurisdictions are using the same management will continue to be an issue.

same management will continue to be an issue. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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DLAN crashed during Sandy operations (though other incident management software packages used in other jurisdictions also crashed under the workload) requiring contractor assistance to reboot. Some feel that being forced to have DLAN contractors in the EOC to support the software reflects the limitations of the product, is expensive, and constitutes a misuse/waste of limited floor space. Finally, observers felt that EOC staff was engaged in working with the DLAN system to the exclusion of communicating with other emergency operations center personnel. This compromised their ability to share information (this is, to be fair, another criticism that has been leveled against other software packages).

that has been leveled against other software packages). It is not an indictment of DLAN to

It is not an indictment of DLAN to note that only one other state uses the software, nor that OEM is the only major emergency management agency at any level in New York that employs it. Nor is it necessarily a criticism to observe that many urgent or high level requests were pushed through not using DLAN, and that the forms for many such tickets were completed after the fact. It is important, however, to recognize that the it is viewed by many The system has few to do anything better than other, more widely accepted, competing systems.

Asset Tracking The volume of material flowing into and out of staging areas, most prominently Citi Field, was staggering. The lack of an up-to-date system to tag and track those resources must be addressed, not only from a resource management perspective during an emergency but also from a resource recovery point-of-view during demobilization. The tens of thousands of items, from generators to pallets of water to light towers to vehicles, requested and deployed in the recovery operations in New York were tracked using paper and pen. There is no system in place for advanced bar coding of items, let alone RFID (radio frequency identification) tagging that would allow tracking across the region. recover the majority of the non-perishable items (such as generators) in this chaotic environment is a testimonial to the dedication of the men and women that drove the Sandy response at the grassroots level. It was also an inefficient and cumbersome process that led to losses and waste. OEM staff spent hundreds of hours on the phone during the emergency trying to track down resources that could have been readily accounted for with a modern system. While no system can completely prevent such incidents, OEM can and should anticipate future requirements.

OEM can and should anticipate future requirements. A modern asset tracking system, tied to DLAN (or
OEM can and should anticipate future requirements. A modern asset tracking system, tied to DLAN (or

A modern asset tracking system, tied to DLAN (or some other incident management support and delivery of requested resources to the parties that need them, help assure positive control during the operation, and facilitate recovery and return of rented, purchased and borrowed items. OEM should conduct both internal and external software requirements reviews to ensure that whatever system the state will be using meets the operational and recovery needs of the state and stakeholders. There are a number of commercial off the shelf systems (COTS) that provide the functionality the interviewees described as a need.

the functionality the interviewees described as a need. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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New York Emergency Operations Center not conducive to efficient operations. The New York State EOC is a Cold War relic, lacking the space and flow required in modern emergency operations. The main floor is a cramped warren of cubicles rather than the modern operations , with an arrangement of functional groups that is inflexible and limited in seating. The lack of available conference rooms forced EOC staff to scrounge for space for critical meetings, often in areas not equipped to support GIS or other technologies. The low ceilings contribute to the acute (and accurate) sense of working in a bomb shelter; the depression, anxiety and anger expressed by a number of personnel during the 12-hour, round-the-clock shifts of the Sandy activation seem understandable. It is not surprising that the Governor is an infrequent user of the office suite reserved for him there.

infrequent user of the office suite reserved for him there. Although the communications capabilities of the

Although the communications capabilities of the EOC are completely up to date, the process

of communications within the

ues. For years, emergency managers have recognized that getting out of one's seat and talking to others who have even small roles in an operation enhances the likelihood of successful outcomes. During Sandy, this did not take place as it should have. Too much time was spent on sitting in front of a computer screen in a cubicle, interrupted by meandering "pass the mic" sessions during which verbal updates were provided mic substitute for an EOC environment in which technology promotes communications, shares knowledge, and facilitates tasking and management.

EOC is a challenging one.

tasking and management. EOC is a challenging one. Functional EOCs around the world are wide-open and

Functional EOCs around the world are wide-open and well-lit, with signage and information screens that can be seen from anywhere in the room. The facility, including the main floor but also dedicated conference space and break areas, must facilitate the ability of EOC staff whether OEM, other agency representatives, private sector or NGO personnel to interact to solve problems and get desired outcomes. The New York EOC fails to meet this test, and actually contributes to a deterioration of staff capabilities over a long-term activation.

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of staff capabilities over a long-term activation . UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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PROCEDURES & PLANS

STRENGTHS

Relocating key staff to the New York City area was hugely successful from local jurisdiction perspectives. Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) personnel were invaluable to sustaining EOC operations, but need to be effectively managed. The State Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) provided a solid basis for operations.

Plan (CEMP) provided a solid basis for operations. Relocating Staff to New York City and the

Relocating Staff to New York City and the ROC The decision to move OEM personnel from Albany to New York City was driven by several factors:

The Governor and his key staff established early on that they were going to be directly involved in response operations and that they would act offices in Midtown Manhattan. The Commissioner determined that it was OEM responsibility to provide the Executive Leadership with situational awareness and operational support of their decisions and commitments, which led to the decision to establish a Regional Operations Center. During the early hours and days following landfall, New York City and nearby counties including Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester were overwhelmed by the combination of the devastation and the disruptions to power, communications, transportation, etc. Effective support of the local emergency service agencies required close coordination that could not be achieved from Albany using routine channels.

could not be achieved from Albany using routine channels. The unprecedented scope of the storm damage

The unprecedented scope of the storm damage and corresponding response effort

Extremely beneficial interface with the other elected officials.

beneficial interface with the other elected officials. lean-forward, operational posture on the part of OEM

lean-forward, operational posture on the part of OEM leadership. While still playing its traditional role of supporting resource requests from county and city governments, OEM personnel (both staff and consultant) were engaged in hands-on roles across

the region, working in city and county EOCs, staffing logistics staging areas, performing field inspections and damage assessments, and augmenting other agency staff.

The decision to put personnel on the scene was characterized by local officials in New York City and other affected communities as a new, best practice for OEM. It allowed OEM to effectively follow- requests which were frequently made outside routine procedures with the EOC staff in Albany. Reflecting the political realities of the response, the presence of senior staff NYC Office of Emergency Management.

of senior staff NYC Office of Emergency Management. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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New York City emergency management officials went so far as to describe the forward deployment of OEM personnel as a game changer and a 180-degree shift from their experience with the State in past disasters. In their opinion, the presence of OEM staff on the scene after Sandy resulted in better communication and coordination, more prompt fulfillment of requests and a stronger sense of collaboration.

EMAC staff didn EOC until . EMAC personnel were used to augment logistics and finance, and assisted in planning and operations, while OEM staff filled most of the core ICS positions. Even though the EMAC deployed staff were not management, and most were willing and able to adap By one estimate, 29 staff positions were filled by EMAC.

By one estimate, 29 staff positions were filled by EMAC. OEM would benefit from refining their

OEM would benefit from refining their EMAC request procedure to insure that the requirements for detailees are specified in greater detail. In addition, the request should be initiated earlier in the activation to help ensure personnel are in place when needed and most helpful. To make their integration into the EOC operations easier, the CEMP (see below) should be updated with quick reference guides, job action sheets and the forms and other tools to perform each function in the EOC. This will help greatly when augmenting staff with EMAC and other personnel who are unfamiliar with New York State EOC operations.

who are unfamiliar with New York State EOC operations. This will also help address problems with

This will also help address problems with EMAC personnel that either lack the skills or sufficient experience to contribute to EOC operations. There needs to be clarification of credentialing (i.e., professional accreditation, certification, and professional accomplishment), roles, and duties to be assumed. During the Sandy response, one detailee assigned to a management position on the generator task force was not professionally or emotionally prepared to handle that responsibility. Another EMAC assigned individual acted in an erratic fashion, caused significant disruption and adversely impacted coordination and response, eventually leading to his expulsion from the EOC. He subsequently made several accusations of impropriety and wrongdoing at OEM, prompting questioning of State government purchasing processes and triggering an inquiry and changes to procurement processes that hampered the fulfillment of critical resource requests.

that hampered the fulfillment of critical resource requests. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED
that hampered the fulfillment of critical resource requests. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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CEMP many years of OEM work, analysis, and institutional lessons-learned. Although a number of staff indicated that the CEMP was not employed during the move of personnel to New York and the establishment of the ROC, those decisions reflected circumstances not necessarily clearly needs to be revised to reflect changes in the operational and decision-making ce). While the plans and procedures embodied within the CEMP were the basis for actions taken in the field and at the EOC throughout the activation, modifications are needed to address insights gathered throughout the Sandy response. In addition, greater familiarity with the CEMP should be encouraged at all levels of the response structure. For example, some hurricane pre-landfall actions spelled out in the CEMP were not triggered. As a consequence, there was uncertainty over what steps were to be taken in the run up to the activation and response.

to be taken in the run up to the activation and response. Existing processes and systems

Existing processes and systems worked as designed when they were allowed to play out. Based on decisions that were made by the Governor and his staff during the incident, there is a need to promote greater understanding of the CEMP and supporting procedures among senior officials in the State, delineate their roles and resonsibilities during a disaster, and establish the working rules of engagement between the Executive Leadership and the agencies charged with coordinating emergency response. effectiveness of those decisions within context of the larger response.

of those decisions within context of the larger response. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED
of those decisions within context of the larger response. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

The decision to establish the so-called ROC was not understood nor supported by OEM rank and file. The OEM leadership team must be bolstered. The change in procurement rules installed for OEM during the Sandy response is inconsistent with effective emergency operations. OEM must do a better job of building and sustaining its staff. OEM and Executive Leadership expectations need to be better defined and integrated into planning and operations. Planning needs to be strengthened across the board.

Planning needs to be strengthened across the board. Regional Operations Center Establishing a so-called ROC

Regional Operations Center Establishing a so-called ROC at the State offices in Midtown Manhattan was seen by the Commissioner as a straightforward task to ensure the Governor and his key staff had access to the same information they could receive in the NY State EOC in Albany. To this end, he had OEM personnel go to New York City to assemble the systems necessary to convert a conference room into a viable Regional Operations Center. While the equipment, including video screens and computers, was purchased for this purpose and much of it was employed in another command and control facility, the ROC was never assembled as envisioned outlay was unnecessary. (Interestingly, concerns were voiced frequently during the operation that Executive Leadership did not have a high altitude perspective on the status of response and recovery efforts by individual, high profile issues.)

and recovery efforts by individual, high profile issues.) The decision to send so many senior OEM

The decision to send so many senior OEM staff (including the Director) to establish a ROC in New York City was perceived by personnel in Albany as a de facto abandonment of the State EOC. Compounding the perception that State EOC parently voiced The accompanying shift of responsibilities to managers in Albany with less (or in some instances no) experience in their assignments within the EOC further compounded staff concerns.

within the EOC further compounded staff concerns. The failure to convincingly communicate the rationale for

The failure to convincingly communicate the rationale for the ROC along with the belief of personnel remaining at the EOC that they were held in lower regard by OEM management became an open and lingering wound to agency morale. The lack of experience with field operations by previously carried much of this responsibility, though cutbacks have greatly diminished that toward the downstate deployments on the part of EOC staff. The move downstate was perceived by those left behind and even some that were working in New York City and point rather than being seen as a necessary part of the OEM mission.

than being seen as a necessary part of the OEM mission. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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If OEM is going to continue to support a forward leaning posture in major events, including the utilization of assets in the field in the manner displayed during Sandy, it must:

Incorporate the ROC concept into the CEMP; Strengthen its available staff resources, both at the headquarters level and in the State Regions (see discussion under Personnel, above); and Clarify and define, train and exercise the roles of OEM support to Executive Leadership in a major emergency.

OEM support to Executive Leadership in a major emergency. OEM Leadership Team Due to the retirement

OEM Leadership Team Due to the retirement or voluntary transfers of key staff over the past two years, OEM entered the Sandy response with a seriously depleted leadership cadre. Effective emergency management is frequently a function of strong hands-on leadership and pre-existing personal relationships; managers (in Albany and the Regions) with professional and personal ties to city- and county-level public safety officials have been allowed to walk out the door in the interests of reducing costs. The Commissioner and then Director clearly recognized this problem and had taken steps to address gaps in the organization, but this process was in its very early stages when the storm hit in October. The division of OEM staff to support operations in both the New York City area and the Albany EOC simply aggravated what would have been a serious issue in any event.

operations in New York City and Albany was viewed by some within OEM as an insult. Others questioned how such personnel fit into the organizational structure, complaining about a lack of clear lines of responsibility/accountability. The introduction of experienced consultants did, however, allow OEM to actively engage on a variety of issues that would have probably been outside the range of available State personnel. Still, bringing in consultants without more effectively communicating their roles and responsibilities to OEM staff created perceptions that leadership lacked faith in their ability to deal with the challenges.

lacked faith in their ability to deal with the challenges. What was, in effect, the firing
lacked faith in their ability to deal with the challenges. What was, in effect, the firing

What was, in effect, the firing of the Director of Emergency Management in the middle of the Sandy response presented major problems for OEM. While the reasons for the termination are not within the purview of this report, the timing of that disciplinary action essentially decapitated the agency at a critical moment, forcing the lities in addition to his own. This, in turn, resulted in delays on some decisions during the response (despite the Commissioner routinely working 16 hour days), the absence of a senior political appointee in the EOC, and a day-to-day leadership vacuum within OEM. The Director, although not necessarily well-liked by some in the agency, did have the experience and energy to lead OEM operations; the absence of a deep bench of experienced emergency managers within the office was felt almost immediately.

managers within the office was felt almost immediately. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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Procurement Rules In response to allegations of waste and malpractice within OEM in the purchase of material during the Sandy response, the new State Comptroller made substantial changes to existing purchasing approval practices, reporting systems, controls and general oversight of purchasing within the agency. Although the charges (made in the media by an EMAC-assigned volunteer) have not been fully substantiated, a review by the Comptroller s Office found concerns and systemic issues relating to current OEM audit and vetting practices. The changes instituted an additional layer of review (and, inevitably, delay) in the processing of requests from county emergency management agencies and other stakeholders.

county emergency management agencies and other stakeholders. The process modifications introduced new requirements

The process modifications introduced new requirements designed to provide the

for all stages of the procurement process.

county-level emergency management agency or other stakeholder, conduct the requisite research and triage, approve the purchase and forward the package to finance for final approval. Finance would then conduct the same research and review of the request, often delaying much needed resources to the jurisdictions. The immediate impact of the changes instituted by the Comptroller was to dramatically slow down the purchase and delivery of resources and services by OEM.

OEM would process a request from a

The changes further complicated a process that was already hampered by the DLAN package. In many instances, DLAN requests did not provide enough detail for the procurement process to function properly; once a request was entered, key information necessary to execute procurements was often not being provided (for example: buy a generator for a gas station, no other details). One DLAN procurement function is to issue dummy purchase orders to initiate the procurement process. Later these dummy orders are replaced with real purchase orders. As a result, the vendor received paperwork from the state twice. This practice was a concern to the Comptroller.

state twice. This practice was a concern to the Comptroller. The CAO and staff are working
state twice. This practice was a concern to the Comptroller. The CAO and staff are working

The CAO and staff are working with the new Comptroller and Pricewaterhouse Coopers to leverage recommendations and are making major efforts to restructure disaster controls and oversight, purchasing, and reporting systems. New processes or not, OEM needs more qualified and trained staff with expertise in logistics and procurement. It would also be useful to have Finance representatives in the EOC who are able to work with the Logistics and Operations Sections in order to streamline the process.

and Operations Sections in order to streamline the process. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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OEM and Executive Leadership Expectations The Governor and his senior leadership team assumed an aggressively forward leaning posture in the response to Sandy, relocating to Midtown Manhattan to be close to the incident, traveling frequently to impacted sites and actively engaging with local government officials and other citizens. This assertive role in the field challenged existing organizational structure, its procedures, and the overall institutional culture. his new standard of executive activism by improvising a number of measures, such as the move of staff to New York City to support the Governor, the effort to establish a ROC in the State offices in NYC, and procedures to attempt to capture and implement resource commitments made outside the usual channels by the Governor and his team.

outside the usual channels by the Governor and his team. The Governor was making policy and

The Governor was making policy and commitments that were, in some instances, contrary to both OEM procedures. It is important to for OEM and EOC staffs, was well-received by both the public and the media. It seems odel in future responses.

OEM needs to modify its current organizational structure, procedures, and culture to accommodate such forward leaning and proactive senior leadership styles. This will require close coordination with executive leadership to define expectations and evolve standard operating procedures, addressing "breaks" with pre-Sandy processes.

!

At the same time, the Governor and senior leadership need to better understand how OEM functions and can support them during a disaster. This will require executive reinforcement of cabinet and interagency roles and support in preparedness, participation, and response so that the overall state response is stronger.

and response so that the overall state response is stronger. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED
and response so that the overall state response is stronger. UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY//RESTRICTED

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CONCLUDING RECOMMENDATIONS

The New York State Office of Emergency Management was in poor condition on October 28, 2012. Too few experienced staff members, a system based in part on tools that the users in the field , and a leadership that was trying to build a team while fighting too many fires around the State. All of these weaknesses were exposed when Sandy made landfall on October 29.

were exposed when Sandy made landfall on October 29. While the core strength of OEM its

While the core strength of OEM its staff includes many dedicated professionals, there are too many others that lack the commitment or the experience to effectively meet the needs of d, but undercut by an incident management software system that is not accepted by the local communities that need to use it and a physical plant that is not conducive to efficient operations. It is also operating in a dynamic government environment in which its plans and SOPs are being overtaken by new demands and challenges, many of which are seen by entrenched careerist staff at OEM as being a threat, rather than an opportunity.

The path forward, in a perfect world, would be written on a blank sheet, rebooting OEM to meet a new reality. Given the practical difficulties with such a bold move, the leadership of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services should initiate a ground up review of each position and the personnel filling those roles. This filling that role. Personnel should be reassigned to maximize strengths, and replaced if necessary to obtain the level of commitment to emergency management required for this role. Personnel should also be shown a career path and an opportunity for professional growth commensurate with their efforts and sacrifices.

growth commensurate with their efforts and sacrifices. DLAN should be replaced. A competitive process should

DLAN should be replaced. A competitive process should select a replacement which is more flexible, better integrated with other systems in the State, and fully capable of providing the functionality and flexibility needed in an evolving emergency. The EOC needs to be reconfigured to create more flexible and dedicated space for use by planners, working groups, and other personnel during activations.

working groups, and other personnel during activations. The new paradigm of leading from the front, demonstrated

The new paradigm of leading from the front, demonstrated by the Governor during Sandy and

likely to be replayed in future disasters, demands OEM adopt a fresh approach to supporting cities and citizens of the Empire State. To this end, the CEMP needs a thorough review and

revision, specifically addressing

scenarios. The resulting roadmap for

to its senior officials, ensuring coordination and efficient use of resources.

ensuring coordination and efficient use of resources. New York s Office of Emergency Management has been

New York s Office of Emergency Management has been a standard for the world. It should be again.

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