Preparing for the Unthinkable: Managers, Terrorism and the HRM Function

Perry, Ronald W.; Mankin, Lawrence D.
June 2005
Public Personnel Management;Summer2005, Vol. 34 Issue 2, p175
Academic Journal
Particularly since the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there has been renewed interest in emergency planning in both the private and public sectors. Government emergency planning tends to be conducted by specialized agencies and offices, such as fire departments, police departments or emergency management. Traditionally, most of this planning is oriented toward protecting the public and public structures. Selectively over the decades, some of this planning was oriented toward insuring that government could continue to function following a disaster. At the federal level during the Cold War, much attention was given to the problem of post-nuclear attack government functioning under the rubric of "government continuity." in the past decade, private sector businesses have begun to plan for business continuity following a variety of disasters including terrorist attacks. In spite of sporadic research indicating that local governments are particularly vulnerable, little attention has been paid to planning for government continuity following disasters or terrorism. This paper reviews the literature on historic disasters and terrorist events to establish the level of danger faced by local government. Then six key planning measures for insuring post-emergency operations are reviewed. Data are presented from a large southwestern U.S. city on levels of municipal department emergency preparedness. The paper closes with a discussion of how human resources departments may be mobilized to make critical and unique contributions to local government preparations for terrorism and disasters.


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