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National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Coordination Project


This is an annually renewed project that supports NIST's Lead Agency coordination of National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) research and implementation activities, as well as management of the Engineering Laboratory (EL) Earthquake Risk Reduction in Buildings and Infrastructure R&D Program that are performed by the EL Earthquake Engineering Group. NIST is designated by the U.S. Congress as the statutory Lead Agency for NEHRP, which has four participating agencies: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NIST, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).


Objective - This annually renewed project provides services in support of NIST's statutory Lead Agency role of coordinating National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) research and implementation activities and provides management support for the Engineering Laboratory (EL) Earthquake Risk Reduction in Buildings and Infrastructure Program.

What is the new technical idea? This project is not a traditional research effort. Rather, it supports National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) coordination, management, and leadership. The U.S. Congress requires four agencies to perform coordinated earthquake-related research and implementation activities under the umbrella of NEHRP: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NIST, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the U.S. Geological Survey. The 2004 reauthorization of NEHRP (Public Law, PL, 108-360) directed NIST to perform as Program Lead Agency.

To fulfill this statutory responsibility and provide leadership for its Earthquake Risk Reduction in Buildings and Infrastructure Program, NIST established the NEHRP Office. Specific statutory EL NEHRP responsibilities include supporting the NEHRP Interagency Coordinating Committee (ICC), the NEHRP senior leadership body; supporting the Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR), which provides the ICC with expert assessments on earthquake engineering trends and developments and on NEHRP effectiveness, management, and coordination; developing and updating NEHRP strategic and management plans; maintaining the NEHRP web site as an outreach vehicle for the program, and submitting ICC-approved annual reports to Congress on NEHRP activities.

A small in-house staff consisting of a Director, a Deputy Director, a Management/Program Analyst, and an Administrative Assistant performs these functions.  In addition to the in-house staff, the NEHRP Office retains contractor administrative assistance for web site and editorial functions.

What is the research plan? NEHRP is a research and implementation partnership of FEMA, NIST, NSF, and USGS. The NEHRP Strategic Plan outlines the global NEHRP vision, goals, and objectives. The Plan has three Strategic Goals – (A) improve understanding of earthquake processes and impacts; (B) develop cost-effective measures to reduce earthquake impacts in individuals, the built environment, and society-at-large; and, (C) improve the earthquake resilience of communities nationwide. Each of these goals has four or six major objectives, many of which require significant interactions among the NEHRP agencies.

The Strategic Plan also outlines nine strategic priorities that should receive increased emphasis if resources are available to support them:

  1. Fully implement the USGS Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), which in recent years has become associated with possible future Earthquake Early Warning systems
  2. Improve techniques for evaluating and rehabilitating existing buildings
  3. Further develop performance-based seismic design
  4. Increase consideration of socioeconomic issues related to hazard mitigation implementation
  5. Develop a national post-earthquake information management system
  6. Develop advanced earthquake risk mitigation technologies and practices
  7. Develop guidelines for earthquake-resilient lifeline components and systems
  8. Develop and conduct earthquake scenarios for effective earthquake risk reduction and response and recovery planning
  9. Facilitate improved earthquake mitigation at state and local levels

A NIST-funded 2011 National Research Council (NRC) report provided a long-range research and implementation roadmap for NEHRP that endorsed the NEHRP Strategic Plan. Both the Plan and the NRC roadmap emphasize national earthquake resilience.

Major planned FY 2016 EL NEHRP activities include:

  • Working with NEHRP partners to produce the 2015 NEHRP annual report, using a combination of in-house and extramural support; Support ICC deliberations on revitalization of ICC activities
  • Supporting ICC deliberations on revising the NEHRP Strategic Plan, as well as other strategic direction issues tied to agency budgets, if new Congressional reauthorization legislation is enacted
  • Supporting meetings, reporting activities, and membership transitions for the Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR)
  • Working with the other NEHRP agencies to plan and implement transfer of the leadership of post-earthquake investigations from USGS to NIST, if reauthorization legislation directing such transfer is enacted
  • Working with the other NEHRP agencies to coordinate research and implementation activities, including NEHRP interactions with Administration resilience activities and other agencies' multi-hazard activities
  • Coordinating and performing any NEHRP efforts required to support the Presidential Policy Directive, National Preparedness (PPD-8) concerning resilience, including the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group and Executive Office of the President
  • Working with Congress and the other NEHRP agencies on any issues that arise concerning potential NEHRP reauthorization legislation
  • Leading the Interagency Committee on Seismic Safety in Construction (ICSSC), if it is reconvened in support of government-wide earthquake risk mitigation activities
  • Continuing transition of research in the EL Earthquake Risk Mitigation for Buildings and Infrastructure program to utilize guidance from the 2013 Building Seismic Safety Council (BSSC) "roadmap" that outlines recommended priorities for NIST to address applied research needs cited in the NRC roadmap

Funding limitations dictate that the NEHRP Office will focus less in the future on broader program planning activities (e.g., NEHRP-wide workshops), and focus more narrowly on activities that directly support statutory requirements and ACEHR and ICC activities.

Major Accomplishments: