The Obama Administration today released the text of Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8 (pdf) on “National Preparedness.” The Directive, signed by President Obama on March 30, generally calls for development of systematic response plans for natural and manmade disasters, and seeks to enlist broad engagement in the process.
“This directive is aimed at strengthening the security and resilience of the United States through systematic preparation for the threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation, including acts of terrorism, cyber attacks, pandemics, and catastrophic natural disasters. Our national preparedness is the shared responsibility of all levels of government, the private and nonprofit sectors, and individual citizens. Everyone can contribute to safeguarding the Nation from harm . As such, while this directive is intended to galvanize action by the Federal Government, it is also aimed at facilitating an integrated, all-of-Nation, capabilities-based approach to preparedness.”
From a secrecy policy perspective, two points may be noted.
First, while presidential directives are fundamental instruments of national policy, the Obama White House does not make them available on the White House web site. You can find the names of hundreds of thousands of tourists who visited the White House and other information of questionable value and utility, but you cannot find a collection of unclassified directives issued by President Obama. This is incongruous.
Second, it is noteworthy that the new Presidential Policy Directive is only the eighth one to be issued by the Obama Administration. At this point in the third year of the George W. Bush Administration, around 25 presidential directives (NSPDs) had been issued. And in the Clinton Administration, there had been around 35 directives (PDDs). So this Administration is using directives much more sparingly, for reasons that are hard to discern from a distance.