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FEMA Releases the National Planning System

Date: 2016-02-24
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The Nation faces evolving threats and hazards shaped by nature, technology, and adversaries.  Aligning planning efforts by using a shared planning architecture and process could help to integrate and synchronize plans across the whole community

The National Planning System provides a unified approach and common terminology to support the implementation of the National Preparedness System  through plans that support an all threats and hazards approach to preparedness. These plans—whether strategic, operational, or tactical—enable the whole community to build, sustain, and deliver the core capabilities identified in the National Preparedness Goal.

The National Planning System contains two key elements: the Planning Architecture, which describes the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of planning and planning integration; and the Planning Process, which describes the steps necessary to develop a comprehensive plan, from forming a team to implementing the plan.

Planning Architecture

The National Planning System consists of three levels of planning:                                

  • Strategic-level plans address the execution of long-term or ongoing processes. Senior elected or appointed officials provide policies and/or directives that drive development strategies.
  • Operational-level plans provide a description of roles and responsibilities, tasks, integration and actions required of a jurisdiction or its departments and agencies during incidents.
  • Tactical-level plans focus on managing resources such as personnel and equipment that play a direct role in incident response.

Planning is coordinated and integrated vertically – up and down levels of government and the community – and horizontally – across diverse functions, mission areas, organizations, and jurisdictions. Taken together, vertical and horizontal planning helps ensure coordination of incident management expectations across the various functions and capabilities required for all threats and hazards.

Planning Process

Planning activities involve two parts: 1) ensuring support of applicable parties, and 2) conducting a common planning process.  The common planning process, as outlined in Comprehensive Preparedness Guide (CPG) 101, encompasses the following:

  1. Form a Collaborative Planning Team. Engaging and integrating the whole community as part of the planning team produces the most realistic and complete plans.
  2. Understand the Situation. At its core planning is a process to manage risk. By understanding the risk landscape, planning teams can make better decisions regarding how to manage risk and develop needed capabilities.
  3. Determine Goals and Objectives.  The necessary capabilities identified in Step 2 are used to establish priorities, goals and objectives. Priorities indicate a desired end-state. Goals are broad, general statements that specify desired results. Objectives are specific and identifiable actions carried out during the operation.
  4. Plan Development. Develop and analyze possible solutions or courses of action for achieving the outcome of Step 3.  Based on this analysis, select the preferred solution or course of action.
  5. Plan Preparation, Review, and Approval. The courses of action developed in Step 4 become a plan. Once drafted, the organizations responsible for implementation circulate the plan for review and approval.
  6. Plan Implementation & Maintenance. Plans should be regularly reviewed and updated due to changes in risk, statute, policy, or doctrine, as well as lessons learned from actual incidents.

Download the National Planning System materials here

For more information, see:

- People, Places & Things/ (via FEMA, 2/3/16)


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