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GSA Cosponsors Congressional Briefing on Disaster Reduction

On 19 September 2008, GSA cosponsored a congressional briefing on “Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction,” a 10-year strategy produced by the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction. The Grand Challenges represent priority federal science and technology investment needs to help the nation reduce future loss of life and property as a result of disasters.

Congressional briefing speakers
Congressional briefing speakers (left to right): Dave Applegate of the U.S. Geological Survey, Ken Graham of NOAA, and Richard Lasko of the U.S. Forest Service.

Gene Whitney
Gene Whitney with plaque honoring his seven years of service at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The briefing drew upon recent earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfires to illustrate these “Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction.” It was organized in cooperation with the Congressional Hazards Caucus and the NSTC Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction. Speakers included GSA Council member David Applegate of the U.S. Geological Survey and chair of the NSTC Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction; Ken Graham of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and Richard Lasko of the U.S. Forest Service.

Copies of the recently released implementation plans identifying priority science and technology activities for 14 hazards were distributed and discussed. Coordinated among myriad Federal agencies, the plans list actions that agencies, in collaboration with individuals and organizations at all levels, must take in order to meet the Grand Challenges for coastal inundation, drought, earthquakes, floods, heat waves, human and ecosystem health hazards, hurricanes, landslides, technological hazards, tornados, tsunamis, volcanoes, wildfires, and winter storms.

Natural and technological hazards are inevitable, but their consequences on communities and infrastructure are not. In a more disaster-resilient America, relevant hazards are recognized and understood, communities at risk know when a hazard event is imminent, property losses and lives at risk in future natural hazard events are minimized, and disaster-resilient communities experience minimum disruption to life and economy after a hazard event has passed. Those are the goals of meeting the Grand Challenges.

At the briefing, Gene Whitney was honored for his seven years of service at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where he played a central role in shepherding “Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction”through the White House approval process.