COVID-19 has exposed critical weaknesses in America’s planning and processes for responding to threats and emergencies. The components of an integrated national response capability are largely in place, but major roadblocks prevent the execution of quick, coordinated, and effective action during a prolonged crisis that simultaneously impacts every corner of the country. Unless these weaknesses are addressed, future pandemics, natural disasters, coordinated cyberattacks, or acts of terror will have enormous potential to imperil our citizens, cripple our infrastructure, threaten our economy, and put our national security at risk.
To address these issues, BENS convened its Commission on the National Response Enterprise in Summer of 2020 to develop its Call to Action report of substantive recommendations for a path forward. The Commission is comprised of some of the United States’ most accomplished leaders on this issue—from four-star generals, admirals, and former cabinet-level officials, to past and present CEOs of some of the country’s most respected corporations—to research and analyze the many facets of an effective emergency response and identify opportunities for improvement. The Commission is co-chaired by Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security; Alex Gorsky, Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson; and Mark Gerencser, former managing director of Booz Allen Hamilton and BENS Chairman of the Board.
Certain foundational principles informed the Commission’s work. Foremost, truly effective emergency response will only be possible when it is powered through a seamless partnership between government, business, civil society, and the American people.
Video: CNRE Rollout
Watch the announcement of the Commission's recommendations and discussion with Commissioners Mark Gerencser, Jeh Johnson, and Alex Gorsky, and BENS President and CEO, General Joseph Votel. Event was hosted virtually on February 3, 2021.
CNRE leaders continue pressing for action on implementation of the Commission’s findings and recommendations. Recent developments include:
- providing testimony at hearings of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight;
- appearing twice before the National Governors Association and FEMA’s National Advisory Council;
- meeting with the new FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and her leadership team; and,
- working with Senators Bill Cassidy and Maggie Hassan, and Representatives Elissa Slotkin and John Katko, on several targeted pieces of related legislation.
Video: Senate hearing
Commission members testified at the March 24, 2021 hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs' subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Spending Oversight, Preparing for Future Crises: Examining the National Response Enterprise.
BENS President and CEO General Joseph Votel was joined by Craig Fugate, former administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency; Kristi Rogers, Managing Partner, Principal to Principal LLC; and Michael Capps, CEO, Diveplane.