Stateline Story

States Showcase Model Security Plans

Dozens of state homeland security leaders are in Savannah, Ga. this week to discuss their plans at a "best practices" summit organized by the National Governors Association.

Policy teams from seven states - Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia and the Virgin Islands have received several months of expert advice from officials at key federal agencies and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The teams typically include a state's governor-appointed homeland security advisor, agency chiefs representing public health, emergency management, law enforcement and the National Guard, and local officials.

The focus is on getting agencies to work together and making sure critical information gets to the right people, said NGA homeland security policy director Ann Beauchesne.

"Indiana, for instance, set up a whole software system to ensure . . . communication and coordination," while other states focused on particular threats or security needs, she said.

"Ohio was really looking more at the bioterrorism part of it. The Virgin Islands has a completely different perspective. They're worried more about port security and the cruise ships coming in there," she said.

Summit participants will receive feedback on their plans and take part in discussions on such issues as protecting critical infrastructure, cooperating with the private sector, funding challenges and legislative needs.

Beauchesne said the meeting, which takes place Oct. 29-30 at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto, will generate a model policy guide for other states as they craft their own plans to prepare for the threat of future attacks.