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International Assistance System Concept of Operations

The National Response Plan (NRP), which was released in late 2004, provides the national framework for interagency cooperation in responding to major domestic incidents. USAID is a signatory to the NRP and plays a supporting role to the Department of State (DOS) in managing international assistance. Through its membership in the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group, USAID/OFDA also supports urban search and rescue efforts.

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Hurricane Katrina provided USAID its first opportunity to respond to a domestic incident. USAID/OFDA worked closely with the DOS and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to manage the many offers of foreign assistance. The U.S. had never before received such an outpouring of international assistance. Coordinating USG agencies, working together for the first time under the NRP framework, developed ad hoc procedures for accepting and distributing foreign donations.

Following the hurricane, an Interagency Steering Committee was formed to review the International Coordination Support Annex of the NRP and provide supplementary operational direction. The Steering Committee designated USAID/OFDA as chair of a Working Group to develop policies and procedures for managing international donations. Members include FEMA, DOS, the Department of Defense, the American Red Cross, and regulatory agencies that oversee the entry of foreign goods into the country.

In partnership with OFDA’s Field Support Team, DASP detailer Laura Chapman coordinated the development of the “International Assistance System Concept of Operations”, which codifies and expands upon the procedures developed during the Katrina response. The document establishes the framework for receiving and requesting international donations of commodities or technical assistance during future responses under the NRP. The document is currently undergoing final interagency review and clearance.

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