Types of Capabilities


The primary types of capabilities relevant to achieving long-term risk reduction through mitigation planning are the following:

The planning team may identify additional types of capabilities relevant to mitigation planning.

Safe Growth Audit

One way to assess the impact of planning and regulatory capabilities is to complete a safe growth audit. The purpose of the safe growth audit is to analyze the impacts of current policies, ordinances, and plans on community safety from hazard risks due to growth. See basic safe growth audit questions in Worksheet 4.2.

Planning and Regulatory

Planning and regulatory capabilities are based on the implementation of ordinances, policies, local laws and State statutes, and plans and programs that relate to guiding and managing growth and development. Examples of planning capabilities that can either enable or inhibit mitigation include comprehensive land use plans, capital improvements programs, transportation plans, small area development plans, disaster recovery and reconstruction plans, and emergency preparedness and response plans. Plans describe specific actions or policies that support community goals and drive decisions. Likewise, examples of regulatory capabilities include the enforcement of zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations, and building codes that regulate how and where land is developed and structures are built. Planning and regulatory capabilities refer not only to the current plans and regulations, but also to the community’s ability to change and improve those plans and regulations as needed.

Best Practices

Craven County, NC

Craven County surpasses FEMA’s requirements by including an assessment of existing programs and policies for each participating jurisdiction. Each policy or program was then provided with a reference, a description of the effectiveness and recommendations for the future, as shown below.


Administrative and Technical

Mitigation Core Capabilities

Capabilities can be grouped or described in many different ways. Mitigation requires capabilities necessary to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impacts of disasters. Your jursidicition has already demonstrated a set of capabilities by initiating the mitigation planning process. The National Preparedness Goal, First Edition groups core capabilities for mitigation another way, and the Mitigation Planning process described at 44 CFR §201.6 incorporates and enables local communities to build each of these core capabilities as follows:

  • Planning through the mitigation planning process at 44 CFR §201.6
  • Public information and warning through education and outreach and public participation (see Task 3, Create an Outreach Strategy)
  • Operational coordination through the mitigation strategy and integration into other planning efforts (see Task 6, Develop a Mitigation Strategy); maintenance plan (see Task 7, Keep the Plan Current); and plan implementation (see Task 9, Create a Safe and Resilient Community)
  • Community resilience through leadership, partnerships, and public involvement (see Tasks 1-3 and Task 9, Create a Safe and Resilient Community)
  • Long-term vulnerability reduction through identified mitigation actions to reduce or eliminate risks to threats and hazards (see Task 6, Develop a Mitigation Strategy and Task 9, Create a Safe and Resilient Community)
  • Risk and disaster resilience assessment through threat and hazard risk assessments (see Task 5, Conduct a Risk Assessment)
  • Threats and hazard identification through threat and hazard risk assessments (See Task 5, Conduct a Risk Assessment)

Administrative and technical capability refers to the community’s staff and their skills and tools that can be used for mitigation planning and to implement specific mitigation actions. It also refers to the ability to access and coordinate these resources effectively. Think about the types of personnel employed by each jurisdiction, the public and private sector resources that may be accessed to implement mitigation activities in your community, and the level of knowledge and technical expertise from all of these sources. These include engineers, planners, emergency managers, GIS analysts, building inspectors, grant writers, floodplain managers, and more. For jurisdictions with limited staff resources, capacity should also be considered; while staff members may have specific skills, they may not have the time to devote to additional work tasks.

The planning team can identify resources available through other government entities, such as counties or special districts, which may be able to provide technical assistance to communities with limited resources. For example, a small town may turn to county planners, engineers, or a regional planning agency to support its mitigation planning efforts and provide assistance. For large jurisdictions, reviewing administrative and technical capabilities may involve targeting specific staff in various departments that have the expertise and are available to support hazard mitigation initiatives. The degree of 63 intergovernmental coordination among departments also affects administrative capability.


Financial capabilities are the resources that a jurisdiction has access to or is eligible to use to fund mitigation actions. The costs associated with implementing mitigation activities vary. Some mitigation actions, such as building assessment or outreach efforts, require little to no costs other than staff time and existing operating budgets. Other actions, such as the acquisition of flood-prone properties, could require a substantial monetary commitment from local, state, and federal funding sources. Some local governments may have access to a recurring source of revenue beyond property, sales, and income taxes, such as stormwater utility or development impact fees. These communities may be able to use the funds to support local mitigation efforts independently or as the local match or cost-share often required for grant funding.

Education and Outreach

This type of capability refers to education and outreach programs and methods already in place that could be used to implement mitigation activities and communicate hazard-related information. Examples include fire safety programs that fire departments deliver to students at local schools; participation in community programs, such as Firewise or StormReady; and activities conducted as part of hazard awareness campaigns, such as Tornado or Flood Awareness Month. Some communities have their own public information or communications office to handle outreach initiatives.

Best Practice

Tulsa, OK

Tulsa’s plan includes a list of local outreach efforts that are already in place and could be used for communication of hazard-related information. A  few included in the plan are listed below:

  • The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and the National Weather Service Tulsa Forecasting Office offers presentations to groups interested in storm preparedness.
  • The EOC has direct access to the cable television system and local radio stations to alert citizens in the event of an emergency.
  • Tulsa’s mayor issues a declaration supporting September as being National Preparedness Month.
  • The National Weather Service and local ham radio groups offer classes for future storm spotters.
  • Tulsa Fire Department has an active Public Education Department, which includes the Fire Department Clowns.
  • The Tulsa Fire Department coordinates Project Life, a program designed to inundate a high-risk square mile with free smoke detectors and battery replacements.