FEMA’s Whole Community Approach to Increasing National Preparedness

What’s the Issue?

A secure and resilient nation must be able to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the threats and hazards that pose great risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Preparedness Goal aims to help communities develop capabilities to minimize those risks. 

What was the intervention?

FEMA developed the Threat Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) process in 2012 to provide communities with a consistent approach for identifying and assessing risks and documenting their impacts.  In the THIRA self-assessment, States answer questions like the following:

  • What do we need to prepare for?
  • What shareable resources are required in order to be prepared?
  • What actions could be employed to avoid, divert, lessen, or eliminate a threat or hazard?


The focus of the first Agency Priority Goal (APG) in 2012-13 was to ensure that all of the 56 states and territories had in place THIRAs that met DHS guidance. Once achieved, FEMA updated its APG for 2014-15 to measure how many states and territories had improved their core capabilities. The 2016-17 iteration of the APG aims to continue improvement in the states’ preparedness. 

How was performance management useful?

The establishment of APGs focused on the THIRA process has had several benefits. Through the priority goal’s quarterly data-driven performance reviews, FEMA leadership was able to provide senior DHS leaders with updates while also receiving important guidance and direction. Analyzing and reporting on the data regularly through the performance reviews and APG publication process led to increased transparency both within the Department and with the general public. The establishment of quantifiable goals, which came from top leadership within the Department also made clearer the direction and level of priority associated with the THIRA process. 

What was the impact?

Over a four year period, much progress has been made toward the National Preparedness Goal. Much of this success can be attributed to both the establishment and implementation of the THIRA process. Within the first two years, 100% of the states and territories had established THIRAs that were compliant with DHS guidance. Over the next two years, 31 states improved overall ratings against the 31 core capabilities outlined in the National Preparedness Goal in the annual National Preparedness Report. Currently the goal is having 70 percent of states and territories achieve an intermediate or above proficiency toward meeting the targets established through their THIRA by September 30th 2017.