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National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

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Final Plan Development

The final 2009-2013 Strategic Plan (PDF 1.3MB) is now available online!

Following the release of the draft Plan in April 2008, the NEHRP Secretariat opened a 30-day public comment period, during which organizations and individuals could download the draft Plan from the NEHRP web site, review it, and then provide thoughts and comments on it.

The public comment period closed on May 9, 2008. By the end of the comment period, NEHRP received 118 comments from 35 individuals and organizations. Some individuals submitted multiple comments and some organizations submitted broad statements that effectively included multiple comments.

Individuals and Organizations
A number of leading national professional organizations provided valuable insights regarding the future of NEHRP in general and, in particular, regarding the areas of NEHRP that most closely parallel their immediate organizational areas of expertise and interest. Included among these organizations were the American Geological Institute (AGI), the Applied Technology Council (ATC), the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), the NEHRP Coalition, the Portland Cement Association, and the Seismological Society of America (SSA).

In addition to the national professional organizations, representatives of several other corporate bodies provided comments:

  • Regional earthquake consortia (Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium and Northeast States Emergency Consortium);
  • State government agencies (Alabama Emergency Management Agency, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, and California Seismic Safety Commission); and
  • Universities (University at Buffalo; University of California, Berkeley; University of Colorado; University of Texas at Austin; and Oregon State University).

Several comments were submitted by other federal agencies as well.

Overview
The NEHRP Secretariat reviewed all comments that were submitted. Where appropriate, the Secretariat then consulted with the NEHRP agencies to determine a recommended response to each comment, including potential revisions of the draft text. Following this process, the Secretariat submitted a list of recommended edits to the Strategic Plan to the Interagency Coordinating Committee, which then approved a final version of the Plan. Because of the time required to edit and review the Plan, its final form has been labeled as "2009–2013," instead of '2008–2012," thus coinciding more closely with the federal fiscal year cycle when the Plan is released.

Many of the submitted comments were editorial in nature. Many of those were accepted and incorporated.

Some comments raised appropriate issues with which NEHRP leaders agreed but were at levels of detail that conflicted with the desire to keep the narrative concise. In most of these instances, the Secretariat attempted to ensure that basic intent was addressed, without significantly increasing the document length.

Almost all comments were positive and supportive of the program. The NEHRP agencies continue to appreciate the outstanding support that the earthquake professional community provides for the program.

Significant Comments
As noted above, many of the comments were editorial or were at a level of detail not appropriate for an overview document of future strategy. However, several of the comments addressed larger program or philosophical issues, and/or they were submitted more than once. In those instances, the NEHRP agencies wish to provide some feedback via the following discussion.

  • Comment: Response and recovery planning activities are not emphasized adequately.

    Response: The reviewer is correct in noting that response and recovery are not emphasized in the Plan. FEMA and USGS contributions in this area are mentioned but not emphasized in the Plan. NEHRP by statute focuses on pre-earthquake mitigation activities. Most response and recovery activity is handled by FEMA, and to a lesser degree USGS, under non-NEHRP statutory authorities.
  • Comment: Promote training in building code enforcement/application.

    Response: The reviewer identified an inadvertent oversight in the Plan's language. Language addressing this issue was added.
  • Comment: Expand program to include post-earthquake fire protection provisions.

    Response: The reviewer identified a legitimate concern. However, NEHRP funds do not support targeted fire protection activities at this time, so no specific changes to the Plan were made. Advances in lifeline survivability (Strategic Priority) and improved non-structural protection (Objective 7) will impact this area, and NEHRP will address the issue in the future.
  • Comment: There is a shortage of funds for research using NEES facilities.

    Response: No action was taken in the Plan in response to this input. The Plan outlines an overall long-term strategic approach for interagency synergies to improve earthquake resilience. The agencies address program funding in response to annual appropriations. It is also important to note that NEES is a community platform, supported by NSF and available for use by investigators to perform research supported by others, in addition to NSF. Finally, to the extent that is possible with future appropriations, NIST has committed to using NEES facilities as appropriate for experimental research.
  • Comment: Earthquake issues related to dams should be covered more extensively.

    Response: No action was taken in the Plan in response to this input. While earthquake-related issues are potentially very important for dam safety, this technical area has not historically been viewed as a NEHRP responsibility. Rather, such issues are covered by the Dam Safety and Security Act. FEMA does provide linkage of ongoing work in this area to NEHRP activities.
  • Comment: NEHRP should include activities related to improved communications survivability and management during an earthquake emergency.

    Response: No action was taken in the Plan in response to this input, for several reasons. This again is more a response and recovery issue that it is one of mitigation. Further, the authorizing legislation for NEHRP clearly focuses on buildings, other structures, and lifelines. Finally, much of what is developed in the area of communication equipment is in the private sector and is proprietary.
  • Comment: Become more emphatic about expansion into multi-hazard mitigation.

    Response: The NEHRP agencies agree that considering the relationships of earthquake risk mitigation with mitigating risks associated with other hazards is essential and have therefore covered this in the Plan discussion about Strategic Planning Principles. The primary focus of NEHRP remains on earthquake risk mitigation by statute.
  • Comment: The most important aspect of PIMS is post-earthquake data collection process, not electronic data repository.

    Response: The Strategic Priority language covering the Post-earthquake Information Management System (PIMS) has been edited to clarify that both issues are important.
  • Comment: Development of early warning systems is not adequately addressed.

    Response: Language was added to indicate that NEHRP will ensure that the U.S. continues to explore appropriate means of developing and implementing early warning capabilities.
  • Comment: Earthquake prediction and exploration of all pre-earthquake phenomena (electromagnetic, etc.) are not sufficiently addressed.

    Response: Leaving out remote sensing was an inadvertent omission in the public review draft. Remote sensing has been added to the description of Objective 1. In addition, the Plan Summary (Chapter 5) emphasizes that NEHRP will remain open to technological and credible scientific advances in all fields—this can include USGS and/or NSF support for work that is deemed promising in the remote sensing area, and both agencies will work with NASA and others as appropriate in this area of endeavor.

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