Elected and appointed officials should have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities for successful emergency management and incident response. These officials include administrative and political personnel as well as department/agency administrators who have leadership roles in a jurisdiction, including legislators and chief executives, whether elected (e.g., Governors, mayors, sheriffs, tribal leaders, and county executives) or appointed (e.g., county administrators and city managers). Although their roles may require providing direction and guidance to constituents during an incident, their day-to-day activities do not necessarily focus on emergency management and incident response.

To better serve their constituents, elected and appointed officials should do the following:

  • Understand, commit to, and receive training on NIMS and participate in exercises.
  • Maintain an understanding of basic emergency management, continuity of operations/continuity of government plans, jurisdictional response capabilities, and initiation of disaster declarations.
  • Lead and encourage preparedness efforts within the community, agencies of the jurisdiction, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector, as appropriate.
  • Help to establish relationships (including mutual aid agreements and assistance agreements) with other jurisdictions and, as appropriate, with NGOs and the private sector.
  • Support and encourage participation in mitigation efforts within the jurisdiction and, as appropriate, with NGOs and the private sector.
  • Provide guidance to their jurisdictions, departments, and/or agencies, with clearly stated policies for NIMS implementation.
  • Understand laws and regulations in their jurisdictions that pertain to emergency management and incident response.
  • Maintain awareness of critical infrastructure and key resources within their jurisdictions, potential incident impacts, and restoration priorities.

Elected and appointed officials may also be called upon to help shape and revise laws, policies, and budgets to aid in preparedness efforts and to improve emergency management and incident response activities.

An incident may have a mix of political, economic, social, environmental, public safety, public health, and financial implications with potentially serious long-term effects. Frequently, incidents require a coordinated response (across agencies, jurisdictions, and/or including NGOs and the private sector), during which elected and appointed officials must make difficult decisions under crisis conditions. Elected and appointed officials should be aware of how NIMS can work to ensure cooperative response efforts, thereby minimizing the potential implications of an incident.