EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation February 24, 2010
Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (QHSR)
Mission 5: Ensuring Resilience to Disasters
Chief of Staff
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The following has been prepared from a transcription of the recording. The complete slide set (Adobe PDF) may be downloaded from http://www.emforum.org/vforum/FEMA/QHSRbriefing.pdf for ease of printing.
[Welcome / Introduction]
Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. Welcome to EMforum.org. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as Moderator today. We are very glad you could join us.
Our topic today is "The Quadrennial Homeland Security Review," focusing on Mission 5, "Ensuring Resilience to Disasters." Please note that you can access a copy of the QHSR report that was submitted to Congress earlier this month by clicking on the report cover image on our homepage, or from todays background page. An executive summary is also available, and other related links.
What we are hoping to learn today is how the goals and objectives described in the report will shape strategies in the future, and how that might filter down from the federal level to the state and local level.
Now it is an honor to introduce todays guest:
Jason McNamara currently serves as Chief of Staff for FEMA. His career spans more than 15 years of staff-level and supervisory experience in emergency management legislation, policy, planning and operations.
He previously served with FEMA for eight years from 1993 to 2001. His last position at that time was Acting Chief of the Interagency and Catastrophic Planning Section where he managed day-to-day Federal response planning activities with all Federal Response Plan signatory agencies, and implemented changes and additions to the Federal Response Plan.
During the hiatus from FEMA, Jason worked in senior positions in the private sector including Dewberry and Davis, and SAIC. Please see todays Background Page for additional biographical information.
Welcome Jason, and thank you very much for being with us today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.
Thank you very much, Amy. Welcome, everyone and looking at the attendee list, there are some familiar faces on there. Please, no tricky questions. Let me just walk through this. Those of you who have been following the bouncing ball here know that the Department of Homeland Security undertook its first quadrennial Homeland Security review this year.
We started in about the May-June timeframe, and really raced to the finish trying to get to the end of year. We released a little later than we would have liked, probably about a month later than we would have liked, but we had to do some interagency coordination with respect to some of the more contentious issues related to terrorism.
But I will say that there was a lot of agreement, consensus, on this mission areaEnsuring Resilience to Disaster. As I worked through this process, a lot of buy-in from our interagency partners at the federal level, quite a bit of input from associations and other folks who we deal with on a regular basis with respect to emergency management issues, and felt very good about where we ended up.
Now, you may ask if you see this, and let me start walking through it now, how we got to where we got. Let me do this first page, and then well go through that. As I said, this was a legislative requirement. We did the first one this year in 2009, June through December, and then we released the report in February.
For those of you who that havent seen the full report, I believe its on the DHS website. Its not too lengthy, but its a significant document so you have to set aside some time if you want to really dig into it.
How did we do this? We requested white papers from any and all stakeholders. We took a look at what literature existed with respect to emergency management, talking about statutes, articles, regulations, other reports from National Academy of Public Administration or other national level academic institutions.
We did a number of all-based study group sessions where I had representatives from within DHS and from our interagency partners providing input on what was important in this mission area. We did 3 national dialogues where we invited input from, frankly, open input from anyone who was interested in the subject. We had quite a bit of participation, particularly in our mission area; I think our mission area had more participation than any other mission areas, so we very much appreciated that.
We met with certain key stakeholder organizations. Through the White House Domestic Readiness Group, we briefed them on a monthly basis on where we were going and got their input. There were some leadership conferences at DHS to finalize the document.
There were 5 mission areas, including ours. Preventing terrorism and enhancing securityessentially, your normal day-to-day activities (if you can call it normal) related to preventing terrorism in the United States.
Securing and managing our borders, enforcing and administering our immigration laws, and then, as I said, cyberspace was a component of preventing terrorism and enhancing security, but given the intense focus on cyber security and frankly, its criticality, it was decided, pretty much near the end that we needed to pull that one out and make it a separate mission area. And then our areaensuring resilience to disasters.
As I was alluding to before, we went through 6 months, and we came up with mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. That may sound familiar to all of you, and youre going to ask me later on why it took us 6 months to get back to the 4 essential pillars of emergency management.
I think what I would say to that is, while that is where we need to be and it is the best way to lay this out, the conversation we had over 6 months was very helpful in terms of fleshing out what exactly we meant by that and what exactly it meant for the Department of Homeland Securitywhat missions we would have to execute to successfully meet these goals.
On mitigating hazards, we want to strengthen the capacity at all levels of government, not just the federal level, not just at the locality to withstand threats and hazards. There are 2 pillars on that oneto work on individuals and families to reduce their vulnerabilities, and second, to mitigate the risks to communities through mitigation programs, and through flood insurance and other programs that we use to mitigate hazards.
Enhancing preparednessagain, 2 pillars on that oneindividual, family, and community preparedness, working towards the focus on individuals and families, and then strengthening the capabilities of state and local governments that allow nationwide disaster preparedness capabilities to be enhanced.
We were concerned that there was a lot of focus on "national capabilities". What we wanted to make very clear was that this is not a federal level endeavor; this is a nationwide endeavor that requires work and effort on the part of everyone all the way down from the individual level through the federal government.
Goal three is effective emergency response. Again, you see that word "nationwide", with the recognition that the federal government is not the end-all-be-all in terms of response to either regular-scale disasters or catastrophic disasters. This is a capability we need to build nationwide. We need to work and conduct effective disaster response operations in a unified manner with our state and local governments and with other participants including the private sector and non-profit.
Provide timely and appropriate disaster assistanceto work with our programs, to work with other private sector programs and non-governmental programs to get the assistance required within a very short timeframe. To all participantsto provide timely and accurate information, so that everybody understands, has a common operating picture, and understands what were dealing with and what the priorities are.
Rapidly recover. Enhance recovery capabilities. Again, "nationwide", which means that while we can improve our programs at the national level with respect to public assistance, individual assistance, and other federal programs that provide post-disaster assistance. We should seek to build the recovery capabilities of local governments and state governments. And to the extent that we can help them build mechanisms and institutions that assist in rapid recovery we should do that.
Continuity of essential servicesthats our continuity operation in ensuring that governments can continue to function, as well as key private sector organizations can continue to function in the aftermath of a disaster.
What are we trying to achieve here? What are the outcomes we are trying to achieve? We have a standard for hazard mitigation at the community level. All individuals and families understand that they have responsibilities in a disaster. With respect to preparedness, there are standards that everyone who participates in disaster response and recovery understands.
We have at the jurisdictional level agreements in place that facilitate mutual aid. Everyone works through common systems like NIMS and ICS so that we can obtain unity of effort during a response.
What comes next? What is happening right now is the department is undergoing a bottom-up review, looking at the missions that we currently perform versus the missions that we have emphasized within the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review, and trying to figure out what we should perhaps do more of, and what we should perhaps do less of. That is being undertaken at the most senior levels of the department. There is actually a meeting going on today about that.
Following the bottom-up review, when we figure out what it is we want to do more of and what it is we want to do less of, we will work on resource allocation. FEMA will use both of these to develop future policies and budgets.
I will say, and you should notice, based on where the QHSR came out for emergency management for ensuring resilience to disasters, we at FEMA feel very confident with respect to the current missions we are undertaking.
We feel that everything we do fits under that rubric, so we would not expect to see us doing less of anything in particular; and in order to achieve efficiencies and budget savings during these tight times, we will be working to improve our business processes, to streamline some things that we do, to help out, essentially, as we all understand that budgets are not unlimited in the current environment.
With respect to individual missions that were performing at FEMA, we feel very confident that everything you see us doing today, we will be doing tomorrow and in the future because it really is all captured under the 4 principal goals that you saw that we came up with.
That is it for me. Thank you for your time.
Amy Sebring: Thanks very much for that introduction Jason. Now, to proceed to our Q&A.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
William R. Cumming: Is there an actual timeframe for conclusion of the bottom up review?
Jason McNamara: Bill, there is, but it escapes me at this point. I believe the BUR, as were calling it, will be concluded within the next 2 to 3 months, but let me get the exact timeframe on that and Ill get it back to Amy, and she can get it back to you all.
[Addendum: DHS intends to submit a BUR report to Congress on March 31, 2010.]
Hank Straub: Will the QHSR process request states to develop complementary strategic homeland security strategies?
Jason McNamara: I would say that with respect to that, our policies and procedures are going to flow from the QHSR, so whatever we ask state and local governments to achieve over the next coming years, will be consistent with the QHSR. But I would not take the QHSR as our template for what we expect state and local governments to do. We, FEMA, have to work from that and provide the guidance down.
I would wait for guidance from us, as opposed to trying to work from the QHSR as your guiding document.
Michael Walter: What types of measures is FEMA using to evaluate some of the aspects of the review and do you see any changes in FEMA structure as a result of the QHSR?
Jason McNamara: Let me answer the second question first. We did recently reorganize very much in line with what the QHSR says. We now have a Response and Recovery Organization, a Protection and Preparedness Organization, and a Mitigation Organization. We kind of preempted the QHSR in that effect by shifting some of our senior management around and aligning functions that were more aligned with what you see in the QHSR.
With respect to metrics, what you saw on the last page in terms of the outcomes that we expect from the QHSR, those will be used to develop metrics of our achievement. While theyre fairly general in the QHSR in terms of outcomes, well have to get down to a level of specificity within each of those to develop measures of how were achieving those.
Amy Sebring: Is there anything in this process or in the outcome of this process that you feel that is actually something new, if only in terms of emphasis?
Jason McNamara: That is a very good question, Amy. What you saw in each of the mission areas, or the goal areas, that I outlined was a focus on building the system from the bottom up and building a level of responsibility and accountability from the individual level all the way up to the federal government level.
Originally, when we chewed on this a little bit early on, we had a separate goal that was specifically related to individuals and communities. What we ended up doing was folding that in into each of the key mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery mission areas. I wouldnt say its new, but there is an increased emphasis on the fact that disaster response and recovery and resilience against disaster is a nationwide enterprise effort. Its not a federal government effort.
One of the things we wanted to emphasize was the role of individuals. Many of you probably heard Craig [Fugate] say that the first assistance that is going to be provided to you in the face of a disaster is probably from your neighbors or from yourself. What we wanted to do is say that we agree with that, and we want to emphasize that, and that theres a level of preparedness that everyone in the nation needs to recognize and accept.
If theres anything "new" in there, that would be the new twist on things.
John Joeckel: Since 80% of the Critical Infrastructure Key Resources (CIKR) is in the hands of the private sector, what specific role will the private sector have in this review as it relates to access control issues to impacted private sector facilities for the private sector to respond and get back into operation and what role will the private sector eventually have in the review concerning management of the response?
Jason McNamara: Thats an excellent question. We are very interested, and we franklyIll turn the question around. Craig, in his meetings with private sector advisors and we have a private sector committee, has turned the question around on them and said, "This is your business. You need to tell us what you need to get back in business. You need to tell us what you need to effectively respond. Our job is to help facilitate that."
We are working hard to get real time contacts, and frankly, to get private sector representatives with us at the outset of disaster, either in the emergency operation center or in a coordinated way, so that that type of information that we, at the government level, use to respond is widely distributed to the private sector and we can understand what they need and what their critical issues are so that they can fully participate in disaster response and recovery.
As opposed to us telling the private sector, "This is what we want you to do", we would much rather hear from them saying, "This is what we need, heres what we would like to do, and can you help us do that?" Thats how we posed the question to our private sector partners.
Ian Hay: On a practical (or operational level) can you please describe what 'resilience' looks like to you, in the scope of a New Madrid Seismic Zone Response (or how this effort could be applied to NLE 2011, etc.)?
Jason McNamara: Let me answer the resilience question first. Resilience, in our minds, means your ability to withstand an impact or incident, your ability to rapidly respond and recover from an incident, and your ability to prepare for such an incident. With respect to New Madrid, I think what you will see at the National Level Exercise next year (and this is still in the development level, obviously)anything that we do with respect to emergency management moving forward will be in the context of the QHSR.
What we would like to see in the exercise is a real discussion of what the real impacts of something like the New Madrid earthquake would be. Then, as opposed to us basing our response on our current capabilities, looking at what actually would happen, understanding where our current system breaks, (this is a Craig analogy) where we cant pedal our bicycle fast enough and we need to look at different tools to respond to the enormous challenges that something that New Madrid would work against.
If youre looking at resilience in a macro level, we need to make some hard decisions about what are those things we want to prepare to withstand, what are those things we be able to respond to and recover from, and then build our system, or find other systems, that can meet the challenges of such an incident.
I would say at the current time, (and Katrina was a very good example of this), if you rely on your day-to-day, garden variety disaster systems to respond to an event of that magnitude, youll reach a point where no matter how fast you do something, youre not going to meet the needs of the disaster survivors. We need to look at different ways of doing that, and resilience is the umbrella framework under which we do that.
William R. Cumming: Did FEMA lead or just participate for the other four missions of DHS (other than resilience) in the QHSR?
Jason McNamara: We led the resilience mission, but we participated in all the other study groups. So the answer is, we did have the lead on this study group, but with respect to the other study groups, we had participants that worked within those. I had a number of coordination meetings with those other study groups to try to inject our perspective into what they were doing.
Eric Kant: You stated that due to growing concern, cyber security was given its own section in the review. What do you believe FEMAs role will be in cyber security type events ?
Jason McNamara: Thats an excellent question and Ive been working with our cyber folks on that specific questions. Its a key concern of Craig as well. Craig is actually participating, as a side note, in a geo-magnetic storm exercise out in Colorado today which in many ways will mimic some of the impacts of a large-scale cyber event, so Im interested to see what conclusions we draw from that exercise today.
What I have asked the cyber folks is thisthere is some general understanding in the emergency management community of what the potential impact of a cyber incident could be, but there is not a broad enough understanding of secondary impacts, and impacts to our own operations as emergency managers to really generate an effective mission for us.
Other than what we would say we would normally do, in terms of try to take care of the impacted population, we also need to understand how our own activities are going to be degraded by a cyber attack, what we could and could not do, depending on the magnitude of a cyber attack, and then what workarounds we might need to come up with in order to deliver those essential services to the impacted population.
Long story short, we would maintain our consequence management role (to use an old term) in the event of a cyber attack. The rub there is, can we do what we think we can do, or are our capabilities going to be so degraded that well have to figure out new ways to deal with the consequences of a cyber attack, or old ways.
B. Batterson-Rossi: How do you anticipate getting the individual alerted to and involved with this?
Jason McNamara: As you know, there are a number of programs that currently exist. Tim Manning, who runs our Protection and National Preparedness area, is working right now to re-energize and re-invigorate our community and citizen preparedness activities. The long story short is, I dont have a specific answer for you now, but given the emphasis that we have placed on it in the QHSR, and in understanding that our leadership wants things to move from the bottom up, I think you will see some changes to how we approach this in preparedness in the coming year.
Im not going to presuppose what Tim may be coming up with, but the fact of the matter is, we are placing a larger emphasis on this and I would expect some changes to what youve seen in terms of traditional programs such a Citizen Corps, CERT, and some of the other programs.
Amy Sebring: If I can follow up on that idea, I guess one of things that struck me when I was looking at this is that identification of that individual responsibility in the mitigation area.
Jason McNamara: Yes, absolutely. In every component of what we do it is critical, from the individual level, that folks be involved. You have a responsibility as an individual if you live in an area that is a flood zone that you either have insurance, or youve elevated, or youve taken some measure to mitigate the risk that you face. Well help you to the extent that our programs allow us.
Avagene Moore: Jason, as policy and programs are developed based on QHSR Goals, do you see a need or opportunity for more input from stakeholders at state and local levels, as well as the private sector, as this evolves? If so, how and in what capacity will stakeholders be involved?
Jason McNamara: Thats our method of doing business. As we move forward with policies, programs, changes, there will always be intense integration and support and advice from our national advisory committee who makes up quite a few segments of the population, as well as the associations we deal with on a day-to-day basis.
Again, Ill use a Craig-ismwere not the team; were just part of the team. We recognize we are not successful unless all our partners are successful.
Amy Sebring: Do you expect that when youve completed the bottom-up review that there will be a follow-on document to this, a public review?
Jason McNamara: Im not sure if that will be public. It may be. Let me check on that one, because that is sort of the internal workings of DHS, Im not sure if that is going to be shared widely, but I can double check on that for you.
[Addendum: The BUR report, to be submitted to Congress on March 31st, will serve as the follow-on document.]
Amy Sebring: The QHSR report went to Congress. What exactly is Congress going to do with it?
Jason McNamara: Thats a great question. I have no idea. Usually what they do is hold our feet to the fire in terms of the things, having been on that side. If an executive part of an agency says they are going to do something and then 6 months later, nothing has been done, usually the document is pulled out and they will tell us, "Why havent you done what you said you were going to do?" But other than that, I really couldnt tell you exactly where they are going to go with that.
Avagene Moore: Jason, what will FEMA's position be on planning for and improving individual and family resilience as referenced in Goal 4?
Jason McNamara: Im not sure. I cant give you the details of the plan right now. What I can tell you is that Tims internal reorganization based on the overall reorganization that we conducted has placed a large emphasis on community and family preparedness. I think what youll see is some modification or alteration of Citizen Corps and other programs that we have executed to date, and some different ways of approaching community.
One of the people that we are bringing in for that effort is a former community organizer and we are excited to see what ideas she has about moving this ball forward. The plan is still in the planning stages, but it a priority of both the administrator and Tim Manning.
Amy Sebring: Im sure Im not the only one out there that was really happy to see mitigation right back in there on a par with the other areas. Do you think there will be renewed efforts as a result in that area? Im specifically thinking aboutweve had the National Response Framework, and I believe theyre [FEMA] coming out with another document that addresses long-term recovery. Are there any plans for some type of national mitigation strategy document?
Jason McNamara: At this point, no, but its a good question. One of the things we did somewhat early on (it was in the November timeframe) was have a listening session on the National Flood Insurance Program, where we tried to get as many stakeholders who have an interest in that program together to talk about how to move that program forward. As many of you know, that program has a number of challenges.
With respect to mitigation, the key focus right now, for 2 reasonsone, because the National Flood Insurance Program law is kind of in limbo now, and some of the monetary challenges to that programthat is really our key focus in the mitigation area, trying to find new strategies to enhance that program.
That doesnt preclude us moving in a different direction on the mitigation programs in general. There are a number of challenges there, as well, particularly where they are wrapped up in a disaster. We have a number of incidences in Louisiana, for instance, where we have communities that were wiped out by Katrina, and not exactly in the most hazard free zones. A lot of them are in V-zones or very high hazard surge areas.
Our standard approach to that, which is to move the community, is not really viable given the fact that manye of these communities economies are based on the ocean or the waterfront. We need to look at mitigation in a more broad sense. The short answer to your question is, right now, no, but I would not be surprised if that is something we look at in the future.
Hank Straub: Did the QHSR look at the national planning scenarios and are any changes anticipated?
Jason McNamara: You know what, we did. We looked at the planning scenarios and frankly, looked at what was their utility, and if this is the way we should be conducting plans. That has not been finalized yet, but I think there was a consensus throughout the QHSR group that scenario planning was not necessarily getting us where we needed to go.
What we advocated, and what we will continue to advocate here from FEMA is an understanding of what are those functions that regularly need to be performed in the aftermath of a disaster, no matter what the disaster is. What is, as Craig says, the maximum of maximumwhats the worst case we can think of? What is our delta between our current capabilities and what we would need for such an event?
This goes back to the New Madrid discussion we had. We understand that the housing needs that are going to be created by a New Madrid event far exceed what we could seek to provide with our current capabilities. Given that, what are the alternative strategies we could use to house people in the aftermath of such a disaster?
As opposed to looking at a specific CBRNE scenario, or a specific natural disaster scenario, were more looking at what are the capabilities we need to bring to the table, where are those capabilities today, and where might they need to be, or should we seek different capabilities.
The answer is, the scenarios still exist as they are. Whether or not they will be used as stringently as they had been used in the past for planning, I think is still an open question.
Isabel McCurdy: Jason, is there any international input given the close proximity of Canada and Mexico?
Jason McNamara: Indirectly, I think. Really, not with respect to the resilience to disaster study area, but with respect to immigration and the bordersthe folks that participated in thatI dont know they received input from international partners, but they certainly made decisions and sought goals and priorities that were in concert or consistent with their conversations and ongoing interactions with our closest neighbors.
Bruce Binder: Money is short at all levels of government. FEMA is a creature of statute. What is the real world outcome of this review? Do you see the likely need for Congress to fund programs to assist local and state governments to lead better preparedness programs and to make sure people know the system starts with them?
Jason McNamara: I think within our current budget, we are seeking to maintain the level of financial support that we have had, with state and local governments. We are trying, but we will re-emphasize some of our activities based on the QHSR. I dont see, personally, a lot of additional funding coming down the pipe. What I do see is a re-prioritization of what we will say is important and perhaps, we are hoping, our partners will see as important, given what we found in the QHSR.
If we can all work on the same sheet of music and work towards the same goals, we can use the scarce resources wisely.
Amy Sebring: Did you have the opportunity to look at the public feedback?
Jason McNamara: I looked at all the online outreach sessions that were conducted and the feedback we received from that. The early-on feedback was, "Wheres the mitigation?" We heard that one. As we moved forward, I saw more consensus and more agreement with the direction we were heading. I felt pretty good about that.
Robert Kimmell: Jason: With the increased importance placed on mitigation, do you feel that the Pre-Disaster Mitigation program will be extended? This seems to be an ongoing question with funding etc. Efforts prior to a disaster need to be addressed rather than waiting for the post-disaster dollars in the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).
Jason McNamara: Thats a great question. Those of you that know me somewhat well know that I was involved with writing that legislation, so it is near and dear to my heart. The answer is, theres money in it this year, and it is at the level that it has been traditionally (around the $100 million level).
There is, actually, within the administration some interest in PDM with respect to how we leverage those dollars in addition to some other dollars from other agencies to build more sustainable communities. I see the program continuing because there is a lot of interest in it on the Congressional side in keeping the program.
They agree with exactly the point you made, about spending the money beforehand. So far, so good, within the administration in terms of funds. What we dont like, and what Im sure many of you dont like, is the earmarking that takes place with some of the PDM funds towards projects that may not achieve the best mitigation outcomes. We have voiced that concern to Congress pretty strongly.
That is the one concern that we have with the programthat it is being used for purposes that are not achieving the highest level of mitigation bang for the buck.
D. Kishoni: Regarding mitigation, what is done to statistically assess the effectiveness of various mitigation measures that were applied in the past, and suggested improvements for the future?
Jason McNamara: I dont have a great answer for that one, because I have not looked at that personally in a long time. What I will tell you is the Congressional Budget Office looked at it, and they are notoriously academic about their approach, and very tight in terms of any assumptions they make. As an overall figure, they were able to come up with a figure of about 3 dollars saved for every dollar invested in mitigation.
With respect to specific strategies, I dont have the data on that, but I can see if we have done anything like that and try to get back to you.
Amy Sebring: Actually, the local mitigation plans are now starting to come into the update phase, the 5 year review, and I expect you will probably be getting some more metrics out of that process.
Jason McNamara: Exactly.
William R. Cumming: On a personal basis, Jason, do you think as an overarching concept "resilience" is a broader term than "mitigation" and better for a FEMA mission? Personally I like it better than mitigation which I view as a subset of resilience.
Jason McNamara: Bill, youre exactly right. Thats exactly the level of our thinking. Our thinking as I said, was that resilience encompasses "withstand, rapidly respond and recover, and then adapt to the changes that have taken place." Yes, resilience, in our minds, is the umbrella concept. Its not just mitigation. It encompasses all aspects of emergency management, and all aspects of what we do.
It encompasses our whole enterprise. Its not just the federal government. State government should be resilient. Local government should be resilient. The private sector should be resilient. Individuals should be resilient. That is absolutely the direction we are moving in.
We did have quite a bit of a syntactic discussion about resilience not just meaning mitigation, because that is what folks kind of default to, but very much looking at resilience as an overarching concept that encompasses those issues. Thats the perspective of the White House and the President, actually. We have achieved some level of consensus on that up and down the chain.
Amy Sebring: I think that is a really good note to wrap up on today. Thanks very much Jason for taking the time to share this information with us. We wish you continued success in your efforts going forward and I think we have a lot of confidence in you. We would also like to thank Dacia Lancaster for her help in setting up the program today.
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