By Katie Dwyer, NACCHO Public Health Preparedness Director
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is pleased to announce the Resources for Administrative Preparedness Implementation and Development (RAPID) funding opportunity for local health departments (LHDs). This project aims to improve administrative preparedness in local communities by funding LHD projects in four target areas, including:
- Increasing awareness of administrative preparedness procedures and authorities;
- Improving collaborative planning with state and local preparedness and response partners;
- Encouraging evaluation of administrative preparedness processes and outcomes; and
- Developing innovative tools and resources that can enhance administrative preparedness nationwide.
NACCHO created the RAPID program to emphasize and re-energize focus on effective administrative preparedness, which refers to the process of ensuring fiscal, legal, and administrative authorities and practices that govern funding, procurement, contracting, and hiring are appropriately integrated into all stages of emergency preparedness and response.
These policies and procedures are critical in supporting the efficient execution of response operations. A deficiency in administrative preparedness can delay the acquisition of goods and services, the hiring or assignment of response personnel, the disposition of emergency funds, and legal determinations needed to implement protective health measures during an emergency.
Despite the importance of administrative preparedness, challenges remain across all levels of government, recently highlighted when addressing the Ebola outbreak. For example, administrative barriers delayed emergency funding distribution from the federal to state to local level. Additionally, the public health response to Ebola could have also benefited from increased, formal engagement and planning with partners in waste management, transportation, and public works as well as advanced planning and exercising of isolation and quarantine authorities. These gaps are further evidenced in an assessment conducted by NACCHO in 2015 which found that about only about half of LHDs have administrative preparedness procedures in place for receiving emergency funding and reducing contracting time for procurement of goods and services and reassigning or hiring of personnel. Furthermore, it was also identified that approximately a third of LHDs reported being unaware if administrative preparedness plans and procedures are or are not in place within their health department.
In response to this critical gap, NACCHO developed the following resources to help LHDs identify strategies and procedures to address administrative preparedness barriers in their jurisdictions and integrate administrative preparedness into their operational planning:
- Administrative Preparedness Authorities: Suggested Steps for Health Departments
- Administrative Preparedness: Emergency Procurement Strategies for Health Departments
- Administrative Preparedness: Emergency Reporting Practices for Health Departments
- Administrative Preparedness and the Public Health Workforce: Suggested Strategies for Health Departments
To encourage evaluation of administrative preparedness processes, NACCHO also created a free, publically-accessible Guide for Incorporating Administrative Preparedness into Exercises. The guide is intended to provide LHDs with actionable information that can be used to integrate administrative preparedness into drills and exercises.
While significant progress has been made, NACCHO aims to continue increasing awareness of the importance of administrative preparedness, support administrative preparedness planning with partners, and encourage evaluation of administrative procedures in conjunction with operational drills and exercises. NACCHO’s RAPID opportunity can empower LHDs to further build on existing resources, by developing and implementing innovative or proven methods for improving administrative preparedness and sharing project outcomes to contribute to preparedness practice nationwide.
The RAPID Request for Application is accessible here, and provides essential information for potential grantees. RAPID applications are due by December 2, 2016 at 11:59 PM PT. Interested applicants are highly encouraged to review the RAPID FAQ document, last updated November 23, and the informational webinar recording, held on November 7. Please note the FAQ document has been updated to include questions addressed during the webinar.
Any questions or inquires for additional information about the RAPID RFA, NACCHO administrative preparedness resources, and/or technical assistance, should be directed via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.