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California State Auditor Report Number : 2015-612

High-Risk Update—Emergency Preparedness
California Has Improved Its Emergency Preparedness

October 15, 20152015-612

The Governor of California
President pro Tempore of the Senate
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol
Sacramento, California 95814

Dear Governor and Legislative Leaders:

This report presents the results of our high risk review concerning California’s level of emergency preparedness. Two key California agencies that oversee statewide emergency preparedness are the California Department of Public Health (Public Health) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Emergency Services). Public Health is responsible for preparing Californians for public health emergencies such as the December 2014 measles outbreak and overseeing public health disaster planning while Emergency Services’ mission is to protect lives and property by preparing for, protecting against, responding to, recovering from, and mitigating the impacts of all hazards and threats.

Both Public Health and Emergency Services have made improvements to the State’s level of emergency preparedness. In our September 2013 high risk report, we noted that Public Health and Emergency Services faced challenges as they attempted to meet their objectives and lacked fully developed strategic plans to guide their emergency preparedness efforts. In our current review, we found that Public Health has begun to use specific measures to monitor its progress toward achieving its objectives. We also found that Public Health has improved how it tracks its employees’ completion of required emergency preparedness trainings and uses additional tools and assessments to improve the State’s preparedness for emergencies. Additionally, we found that Public Health’s federal funding has stabilized over the last three fiscal years, allowing it to sustain its emergency readiness capabilities. In our reassessment of Emergency Services we found that it has updated its strategic plan, developed related performance measures, and has begun to report on them.

As a result of these improvements, we do not believe emergency preparedness at Public Health and Emergency Services should continue to be designated as an area of high risk under our state high risk program. However, we will continue to monitor the issue at both agencies to ensure each maintains its emergency preparedness capabilities.

Respectfully submitted,

State Auditor

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