Homeland Security from Citizens Perspective

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1 Page 1 of 7 Home > Programs > Homeland Security Project Homeland Security from Citizens Perspective Council Releases National Homeland Security Recommendations Action for all Levels of Government, First Responders, Private Sector and Individuals Comes from Citizen Suggestions We the People Online (an interactive web version of the report) Requires FLASH software: Project Overview Town Hall Meetings Other Events Media Coverage Homeland Security Project Home Download the print version of We the People (PDF) Read Secretary Ridge's Remarks Watch a webcast of the entire panel discussion Washington, DC--When it comes to ideas and actions to improve the nation s homeland security, the American people-- our most important resource--have plenty to say. Privacy Policy Their concerns and suggestions set the agenda for nearly 50 recommendations for national action in a new Council for Excellence in Government report, We the People: Homeland Security from the Citizens Perspective.

2 Page 2 of 7 Among the recommendations: The President should direct the Department of Homeland Security to convene leaders from federal, state and local governments, the private sector and civic organizations to update the National Strategy for Homeland Security, with input from citizens. State and local governments, schools and workplaces should update and practice their plans, with direct involvement of citizens, parents and employees. Local governments should produce index cards of critical information in a user-friendly format that can be distributed in multiple languages through many channels to homes, workplaces and schools. Local officials should set up one telephone number (similar to 311 or 911) for citizens to report homeland security threats and emergency information; and offer citizens a service that will send emergency information to phones, cell phones, addresses, pagers and other personal communications devices. The President should designate the month of September as Homeland Security Preparedness Month and governors, mayors and other leaders should plan events to amplify the effort. The National Strategy on Homeland Security should set the goal of a seamless network for authorized public safety officials to share information and talk to each other at a level of reliability and security that can withstand the demands of a national emergency. The recommendations reflect an unprecedented conversation with people across the country and nine months of broad-ranging activities by the Council to look at the entire homeland security enterprise through citizens eyes. The effort included seven major town hall meetings (St. Louis, Miami, San Diego, Houston, Fairfax, Boston, and Seattle) and national polls which were reviewed by expert working groups to identify ideas and activities--at the national, state and local levels, in the public sector, private sector and in communities and homes across America-- for individual and collective action. These homeland security recommendations are truly of, by and for the people, said Patricia McGinnis, President and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government. Our hope is that leaders within the homeland security enterprise--as well as everyday peoples--will use them as a blueprint to make the citizens homeland security vision a national reality. The recommendations are targeted at all levels of government, from the

3 Page 3 of 7 President, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies, the U.S. Congress, and state and local governments to schools, the first responder community, private employers, managers of privately-owned critical infrastructure facilities, industry and trade associations, the local and national media, and families and individual citizens. Topic areas for the recommendations cover a wide landscape collaboration, informed and engaged citizens, strategic/appropriate uses and sharing of information, and innovation and rigorous evaluation. Other recommendations propose that: State and local governments include reporters in homeland security training exercises as active participants. Citizens view their personal information as a valuable asset and learn how government and businesses collect, use and store it. The Federal Communications Commission issue a frequency rebanding ruling to deal with public safety radio interference. The President and the Congress call for an independent review of the Privacy Act and related legislation. The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate consolidate authorization and oversight of homeland security programs into a single committee. These ideas represent the citizens agenda and will significantly improve the nation s capacity to prevent, prepare for, and respond to terrorist attacks as well as other emergencies and natural disasters, McGinnis added. The recommendations were presented to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and will be distributed to governors, mayors, members of Congress, industry leaders, trade and professional organizations and civic groups immediately. National Poll- From the Home Front to the Front Lines: America Speaks Out About Homeland Security WASHINGTON; March 31, While a majority of Americans describe themselves as concerned regarding homeland security and believe that the United States is likely to be the target of another terrorist attack in the months ahead, very few are aware of state and local security preparedness plans, according to the Council's latest national poll. The report, From the Home Front to the Front Lines: America Speaks Out about Homeland Security, presents findings of a two-part study conducted by Hart-

4 Page 4 of 7 Teeter Research and sponsored by Accenture. The report is based on a national survey of more than 1,600 American citizens as well as a national sample of 250 front-line emergency response personnel. Citizen Respondents When asked for ways that government can improve homeland security, more than one-third of citizen respondents said they believe that the two most-effective measures are creating information systems that can share data across law enforcement, health and emergency agencies, and improving border security. Nearly half (47 percent) of Americans surveyed said that the United States is safer today than it was on Sep. 11, 2001, up from 38 percent one year after the attacks. Other key findings of the report: Three-quarters (77 percent) of adults said they believe it is very or somewhat likely the United States will be the target of another major terrorist attack in the next few months. However, half (49 percent) of the adults surveyed said that they are not concerned about an attack in their neighborhoods; While 26 percent of Americans describe themselves as calm, nearly threequarters (73 percent) describe themselves as either anxious or concerned; The most-feared types of attacks are bioterrorism and chemical weapons, selected by 48 percent and 37 percent of citizen respondents, respectively; Only one in five (19 percent) Americans said they are aware of or familiar with their communities preparedness plans; 18 percent said they are aware of or familiar with their state s preparedness plans; 36 percent said they are aware of or familiar with their workplace s preparedness plans; and 27 percent said they are aware of or familiar with their schools preparedness plans; Citizens view information systems that share data across agencies (interoperability) and tighter border security as the best steps to strengthen the homeland, each selected by 37 percent of respondents. More than three in five citizens (62 percent) said they would be willing to volunteer to help homeland security efforts, including planning, training, and practicing drills in their communities. The same percentage supports a new nationwide hotline to report suspicious activity; Fifty-six percent of Americans believe that the Patriot Act is good for America. Thirty-three percent believe it is bad for America. Eleven percent of Americans are unsure. Half the public believe that it must be debated thoroughly in

5 Page 5 of 7 Congress before any decisions are made about whether it should be renewed next year; A majority (59 percent) of the public said they believe the government should have access to companies personal information about their customers if there is any chance that it will help prevent terrorism. When it comes to our nation s safety and security, the American public has very clear and thoughtful suggestions for government leaders, and they see both an important role and serious responsibilities for themselves as well, said Patricia McGinnis, president and CEO of the Council for Excellence in Government. The results of this poll make clear that the American public has a front-line position in protecting the home front. But it also shows that government must better engage them, particularly by closing the communications gap between government and citizens. Local emergency plans are not going to be effective if ordinary citizens do not know where to turn or what to do. One key challenge for government at all levels is to get these plans into the hands and the heads of the public. The good news is that governments are already working hard to improve in the two key areas that Americans identified as priorities for shoring up our homeland security, said Stanley J. Gutkowski, managing director of Accenture s USA Government practice. Federal, state and local governments have recognized the need to do a better job of sharing information in order to be able to identify potential threats to our society. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security is taking the necessary steps to protect our physical borders by pushing out virtual borders to stop terrorists before they can enter U.S. soil, water or air space. Front-Line Emergency Respondents In addition to the national survey of American s attitudes, the report also provides detailed opinions from a sample of front-line emergency responders across the nation, including fire chiefs, police chiefs and sheriffs. Although a majority (53 percent) of this group said they believe that the country is safer today than it was two and a half years ago, two-thirds (65 percent) of all of these respondents said they believe that their agencies are only somewhat prepared to respond if disaster strikes, and only one-quarter (26 percent) said they believe that their agencies are adequately prepared. As with citizen respondents, first responders most-feared types of attacks are bioterrorism and chemical weapons, selected by 67 percent and 42 percent, respectively. But first responders show considerably more concern about attacks on critical infrastructure than does the public, with nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of first responders saying that they worry a great deal or quite a lot about attacks on infrastructure. When asked to prioritize measures to promote homeland security, first

6 Page 6 of 7 responders rated emergency response equipment training first among their priorities, selected by 51 percent, followed by the two areas selected as most important by citizen respondents: interoperability, selected by 34 percent of first responders; and tighter borders, selected by 25 percent of first responders. Twothirds (66 percent) said they support the establishment of a nationwide homeland security telephone hotline. Methodology The study was conducted by the research firms of Peter D. Hart and Robert M. Teeter and comprised two parts: 1) a telephone survey conducted from Feb. 5 to 8, 2004 of a nationally representative sample of 1,633 randomly selected adults in the United States ((margin of error: +3.1%); and 2) interviews with 250 fire chiefs, police chiefs, sheriffs and other first responders. From the Home Front to the Front Lines: America Speaks Out about Homeland Security is part of the Council for Excellence in Government s Homeland Security from the Citizens Perspective project, designed to engage and connecting citizens, businesses, and government nationwide through a series of town hall meetings, expert working groups, and the release of this poll and report. Based on the results of this combined work, the Council will publish a set of major homeland security recommendations later this spring, for action by key government players at the local, state and national levels, as well as business and civic leaders, and citizens. Download the Executive Summary Download the Full Report Download the Top Line Data Download the First Responder Top Line Data View the Powerpoint Presentation View the Press Release About the Initiative Through the Council's initiatives, citizens have a chance to let their voices be heard. And all of us, from the federal government to the private sector, will be listening and better informed. Our history as Americans has been marked by citizens ever ready to defend the cause of freedom. And once again citizens are prepared to answer that call. Secretary Tom Ridge Initiative Launch Keynote September 16, 2003 This critical new initiative will engage and connect citizens, businesses, first responders, volunteer and civic organizations, government officials at federal, state, and municipal levels, and representatives of academia to

7 Page 7 of 7 develop recommendations for action by the key players in the U.S. homeland security enterprise. Working with its public-private partners and the Department of Homeland Security, the Council will conduct three interrelated activities-- a series of Town Hall Meetings, Expert Working Groups, and Public Opinion Research. Secretary Tom Ridge took part in the Council s official launch of this initiative on September 16th at the Mayflower hotel. For more information, read our project overview.

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