The Guidelines were developed by the Secretary of Homeland Security as directed by the Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 (HSPD-8). They finalized development of the national preparedness goal and its related preparedness tools.
The purposes of the Guidelines are to:
- Organize and synchronize national (including federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial) efforts to strengthen national preparedness;
- Guide national investments in national preparedness;
- Incorporate lessons learned from past disasters into national preparedness priorities;
- Facilitate a capability-based and risk-based investment planning process; and
- Establish readiness metrics to measure progress and a system for assessing the nation's overall preparedness capability to respond to major events, especially those involving acts of terrorism.
There are four critical elements of the Guidelines:
- (1) The National Preparedness Vision, which provides a concise statement of the core preparedness goal for the Nation.
- (2) The National Planning Scenarios, which depict a diverse set of high-consequence threat scenarios of both potential terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Collectively, the 15 scenarios are designed to focus contingency planning for homeland security preparedness work at all levels of government and with the private sector. The scenarios form the basis for coordinated Federal planning, training, exercises, and grant investments needed to prepare for emergencies of all types.
- (3) The Universal Task List (UTL), which is a menu of some 1,600 unique tasks that can facilitate efforts to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from the major events that are represented by the National Planning Scenarios. It presents a common vocabulary and identifies key tasks that support development of essential capabilities among organizations at all levels. Of course, no entity will perform every task.
- (4) The Target Capabilities List (TCL), which defines 37 specific capabilities that communities, the private sector, and all levels of government should collectively possess in order to respond effectively to disasters.