Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part II (12/08/2006)

Restoring Emergency Services to Protect Our Nation from Disasters Act of 2006 or the RESPOND Act of 2006 - Title I: Establishment of an Independent Federal Emergency Management Agency - Subtitle A: Federal Emergency Management Agency - (Sec. 101) Reestablishes the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a cabinet-level independent establishment in the executive branch. Declares that FEMA's primary mission is to reduce the loss of life and property from all hazards, including major disasters, acts of terrorism, and other emergencies, by leading and supporting the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive, emergency management system of preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.

(Sec. 102) Requires FEMA to: (1) have all functions and authorities prescribed by the Robert T. Stafford Disaster and Emergency Assistance Act; (2) carry out its mission by leading and supporting the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness; (3) lead the federal government's continuity of operations programs; and (4) be the lead agency for the national response plan.

(Sec. 103) Requires FEMA to be headed by a Director, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(Sec. 104) Provides for an Office of the Inspector General within FEMA.

(Sec. 105) Transfers to the Director the functions of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relating to FEMA, other functions of DHS's Directorate for Preparedness (with specified exceptions), and the functions relating to FEMA under any other law.

Subtitle B: Federal Emergency Management Agency Personnel - (Sec. 121) Requires the Director to develop a human capital strategy, which shall include: (1) a workforce development strategy; (2) an assessment of workforce characteristics and future needs; and (3) an analysis of how FEMA's human resources policies and programs align with its mission, strategic goals, and performance outcomes.

Authorizes recruitment and retention bonuses. Establishes within FEMA a disaster workforce reserve cadre to meet surge requirements during emergencies. Requires the Director to conduct a comprehensive review of and redevelop the current disaster workforce reserves to create a capable cadre by providing for effective utilization and by establishing: (1) consistent and shorter disaster workforce mobilization times; (2) standards to meet mission requirements; (3) a robust credentialing system to integrate capabilities and skill sets into job descriptions for a more effective and faster response capability; (4) employment protections for reservists; and (5) a streamlined deployment system.

Provides that if an individual receiving an annuity from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund becomes temporarily reemployed under this title, such annuity shall not be discontinued. Authorizes the Director to provide members of the disaster workforce reserve cadre transportation and per diem in lieu of subsistence for training.

Title II: Strengthening the Federal Emergency Management Agency - (Sec. 201) Amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to require the Director to: (1) establish a program to assist other federal agencies and states and local governments representing areas at substantial risk for a catastrophic incident in developing a comprehensive program to prepare for a catastrophic incident; (2) maintain and operate a national emergency operations center; (3) develop an efficient, transparent, and flexible logistics system for procurement and delivery of goods and services; and (4) establish an interoperable communications capability and self-sustaining reconnaissance teams to relay information to FEMA headquarters to improve situational awareness and incident management coordination.

Requires: (1) the President, acting through the Director, to establish at least three national response teams and sufficient regional and other response teams; and (2) the Director to carry out a grant program to improve state and local government emergency response capabilities.

(Sec. 208) Authorizes the Director to designate up to 1% of the total amount provided to federal agencies for mission assignments to be used by the recipient agency for performing oversight of activities carried out under the FEMA reimbursable mission assignment process, which may be used for: (1) monitoring, tracking, and auditing fund expenditures; (2) ensuring sufficient management and internal control mechanisms; (3) reviewing selected contracts and other activities; (4) investigating fraud allegations involving FEMA funds; and (5) conducting and participating in fraud prevention activities with other government personnel and contractors. Sets forth reporting requirements and restrictions on the use of oversight funds.

(Sec. 209) Amends the Stafford Act to prohibit discrimination in disaster assistance with respect to English proficiency. Requires the Director to: (1) identify (in coordination with state and local governments) population groups with limited English proficiency and take into account such groups in disaster preparedness planning; (2) ensure that information made available to individuals affected by a major disaster or emergency is translated and made available to such groups; (3) develop and maintain an informational clearinghouse of model language assistance programs and best practices for state and local governments in providing disaster and emergency related services; and (4) define the size of a population group for such purposes.

Title III: Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness System - (Sec. 301) Requires the President, acting through the Director, to: (1) establish (and revise as necessary) a national emergency preparedness goal that defines the target level of emergency preparedness to ensure the nation's ability to respond to, recover from, and mitigate against all hazards; and (2) establish a national emergency preparedness system to enable the nation to meet that goal.

Establishes: (1) a National Emergency Preparedness Task Force to ensure effective and ongoing coordination of federal emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts for all hazards; and (2) a national incident management system that encompasses a single, comprehensive approach to domestic incident management to ensure that all levels of government have the capability to work efficiently and effectively together.

Authorizes the Director, in coordination with appropriate federal agencies and the Task Force, to develop planning scenarios to reflect the relative risk requirements presented by all hazards to provide the foundation for the flexible and adaptive development of target capabilities and the identification of target capability levels to meet the preparedness goal.

Requires the Director, in coordination with appropriate federal agencies including the National Council on Disability and the Task Force, to update guidelines to define the risk-based target capabilities for government emergency preparedness that enables the nation to respond to, recover from, and mitigate against all hazards. Requires the Director to: (1) ensure that the guidelines are provided promptly to Congress and the states and to meet specified objectives with respect to specificity, flexibility, and measurability; and (2) establish emergency preparedness priorities that appropriately balance the risk of all hazards. Authorizes the Director to provide support for the development of mutual aid agreements within states.

Requires the Director, in coordination with appropriate federal agencies and the Task Force, to: (1) develop, promulgate, and update national voluntary consensus standards for first responder equipment for use in the field; and (2) establish and maintain a comprehensive training program for all levels of government to implement the preparedness goal, incident management system, and national response plan.

Requires the Director, in coordination with appropriate federal agencies (including the National Council on Disability) and the Task Force, to establish: (1) a comprehensive system to assess on an ongoing basis the nation's overall emergency preparedness, including operational readiness; and (2) a system for identifying best practices and conducting after-action reviews of incidents and exercises.

Requires the Director: (1) in coordination with appropriate federal agencies, to develop and maintain a federal response capability inventory; and (2) in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, to develop a list of Department of Defense (DOD) organizations and functions that may be used to provide support to civil authorities during major disasters and other emergencies.

Requires the Director and each state that receives a covered grant to submit annual reports to specified committees on, respectively, the nation's and state's level of emergency preparedness.

Makes the Director responsible for all aspects of the national response plan and for coordinating with the heads of other appropriate federal agencies, including the National Council on Disability, in revising the plan. Requires the Director to complete by March 1, 2007, a comprehensive review of the plan for the purpose of identifying areas for revision, including to: (1) ensure integration and consistency with the incident management system; (2) establish a protocol for a proactive federal response, in support of a state, to a catastrophic disaster with or without warning; and (3) clarify who is in charge of the federal disaster response. Requires the Director, in coordination with the appropriate federal agencies and the Task Force, to develop pre-scripted mission assignments for logistics, communications, mass care, health services, and public safety.

Directs the President to ensure that each federal agency with responsibility for responding to major disasters and other emergencies shall: (1) have the operational capability to make, monitor, and communicate decisions to meet the preparedness goal; (2) have the operational command and control structures that comply with the incident management system; (3) develop, in support of crisis operational capability, a deliberate planning capability; and (4) develop, train, and exercise rosters of disaster response personnel to be deployed when the organization is called upon to support a federal response.

Authorizes the Director to make grants to state or local governments to carry out this section. Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 302) Authorizes the Director to make grants to administer the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which shall be used to: (1) carry out recommendations identified in the Compact after-action reports for the 2004 and 2005 hurricane season; (2) administer Compact operations on behalf of all member states and territories; and (3) continue coordination with FEMA, other appropriate federal agencies, and state and local government entities and their respective national organizations. Authorizes appropriations.