Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the Annual Continuity of Operations Training Conference

Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Thanks to Dr. Darlene Williams for the introduction.

First of all, let me welcome you all to Washington. Thank you so much for travelling here to attend the 7th Annual COOP Training Conference.

Let be briefly recognize Bob Langston, the Director of the Office of Security and Emergency Planning, and Corey Gruber from FEMA.

I can't overstate the importance of the work you'll be doing during this conference to make sure that HUD is ready for any disaster or emergency that comes our way. Certainly the events over the past few weeks with H1N1 influenza have highlighted the importance of emergency preparedness and COOP plans. I've been impressed with how the agency has responded calmly and efficiently to the H1N1 flu virus.

As a native New Yorker, I know all too well how the events of September 11th have forever changed us as a nation, changed our national priorities, and thrust emergency preparedness planning into a greatly heightened level of importance.

I share my own story with you to demonstrate just how important I think your work is in keeping all HUD employees safe and ensuring that HUD can carry out the essential functions of our mission in the case of an emergency. If there's anything that September 11th made clear to us, it's that we must plan for the worst and be ready for whatever comes our way.

Our mission to make decent, safe, and affordable housing available to all American families does not stop when there is an emergency, and during emergencies or disasters, our mission actually becomes all that much more important.

We've seen firsthand in Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Ike, the floods in the Midwest and in other disasters just how important the work we do on disaster housing and disaster assistance is.

We must ensure that regardless of where and when a disaster strikes, we are able to respond quickly and effectively and we have the infrastructure, technology, and staffing systems in place to continue our essential operations as an agency, even if our own staff and operations are compromised.

Our FY 2010 budget directly addresses agency technology needs through our proposed agency-wide Transformation Initiative that will change the way HUD does business. This Initiative will fund unprecedented research and evaluation, major demonstrations, enhanced technical assistance and capacity building, and next generation technology investments. I am confident that this Initiative will enable you as carry out your jobs as emergency planners more effectively and in turn will keep our essential operations running smoothly in the case of an emergency or disaster.

I lastly just want to thank you for all of your hard work. I understand that HUD is recognized among the interagency community as being a source of intra-governmental insight and leadership on COOP planning, and I encourage you to keep up the good work.

With the many uncertainties facing our nation today - from terrorist threats, to natural disasters, to infectious diseases - I have faith that your good planning work will keep our essential operations running and our employees safe from harm.

Thank you again for your great work and I wish you a successful and informative COOP conference.


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