Certification Examination Standards – Program Management

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By Daryl Lee Spiewak, CEM, TEM, Lead Trainer for the CEM Commission

Last month we described how the certification examinations are constructed. Recall that we divided the emergency management standards into two parts – Core and Country-Specific standards. We then contrasted the United States’ National Fire Protection Association (NFPA®) 1600 – Standard on Disaster/ Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs 2007 version (used for the current examination) with the new 2013 version (used for the new examination).

Beginning in January 2014, the areas to be covered in the new certification examination will consist of the six major NFPA® 1600 standards and their supporting standards:

  • Program Management
    • Program Coordinator
    • Laws and Authorities
    • Records Management
    • Finance & Administration
  • Planning
    • Planning and Design Process
    • Risk Assessment
    • Business Impact Analysis
    • Resource Needs Assessment
    • Performance Objectives
  • Implementation
    • Common Plan Requirements
    • Prevention
    • Mitigation
    • Crisis Communication and Public Information
    • Warnings, Notifications and Communications
    • Operational Procedures
    • Incident Management and Emergency Operations Centers
    • Emergency Operations/Response Plan
    • Business Continuity and Recovery
    • Employee Assistance and Support
  • Training and Education
  • Exercises and Tests
  • Program Maintenance and Improvement

These will be further divided into Core and Country-Specific standards for the new 2013 version of the certification examinations.

Note that NFPA® 1600 version 2013 defines disaster/emergency management as, “an ongoing process to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, maintain continuity during, and to recover from, an incident that threatens life, property, operations or the environment.” Therefore, it still calls for a comprehensive emergency management program that includes all four phases of emergency management plus prevention and continuity. It goes on to define the scope of the program as being, “determined through an all-hazards approach and the risk assessment.” The first standard we will review is Program Management.

The Standard: Program Management

The NFPA® 1600 Program Management standard specifies a program coordinator and a program committee. It states, “The program coordinator shall be appointed by the entity’s leadership and authorized to develop, implement, administer, evaluate, and maintain the program.” Though the standard uses the term program coordinator, it recognizes that various entities will call it by different names. For example, in the government sector it may be called emergency manager, emergency program manager, or emergency management coordinator. In the private sector it may be called business continuity manager, emergency management specialist or disaster recovery manager.

The title is not important; the duties and responsibilities of this person are. According to the standard, the program coordinator “develops, implements, administers, evaluates, and maintains the program.” The standard does not explain or describe how to do this, so we chose to look to FEMA for this information.

The standard then specifies, “A program committee shall be established by the entity in accordance with its policy,” and “the program committee shall provide input and/or assist in the coordination of the preparation, development, implementation, evaluation, and maintenance of the program.” This indicates the program coordinator needs to include “others who have the expertise, the knowledge of the entity, and the capability to identify resources from all key functional areas within the entity and shall solicit applicable external representation.” This means the entity’s emergency management program shall be an integrated program – one that includes all actors!


For information and discussion on the program coordinator and program committee, refer to these recommended FEMA Independent Study courses.

  • IS 1a – Emergency Manager: An Orientation to the Position
  • IS 230c – Fundamentals of Emergency Management
  • IS 775 – EOC Management and Operations

Last month we said FEMA provides the majority of references because they are readily available for downloading from the Internet at no charge. Other IS courses can provide background information too, as does a plethora of other resources, such as various emergency management textbooks, reference books and manuals, FEMA and state resident courses, and other agency courses.

You do not have to complete the FEMA independent study courses to prepare for the certification exam. However, you may want to review those IS courses we recommend before taking the examination, because they were used as guides for the questions. Once the new examination is approved, IAEM will publish a new study guide online.

Next Month

In the next IAEM Bulletin, we will continue our description of the Program Management standard on Laws and Authorities. We will also provide a recommended list of FEMA Independent Study courses and/or other references to study.

IAEM Bulletin, November 2013

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