Developing Recovery Options for Puerto Rico's Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan

Process and Methodology

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Research Questions

  1. How did HSOAC develop an array of potential courses of action that Puerto Rico could pursue to repair damage from the hurricanes and address longer-term economic recovery needs?
  2. What core steps did HSOAC take to support development of the recovery plan, especially how the courses of action were developed and how they were used in the plan development process?

After Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused widespread destruction across the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FEMA tasked the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center (HSOAC) to work with the government of Puerto Rico, federal agencies, and other stakeholders to write a congressionally mandated economic and disaster recovery plan. This report summarizes HSOAC's strategic planning process to support the government of Puerto Rico in its development of the recovery plan.

The HSOAC team developed nearly 300 potential recovery actions (courses of action) that Puerto Rico could take to repair damage from the hurricanes and address longer-term economic recovery needs. The courses of action delineate potential activities, policies, programs, and strategies designed to further the goals prioritized by the government of Puerto Rico and other stakeholders. Each individual course of action describes an approach to addressing a problem associated with hurricane damage or with a preexisting condition that inhibits economic recovery. To develop the courses of action, the HSOAC team aligned 12 teams with the FEMA sectors supporting the National Disaster Recovery Framework, ranging from water to housing. For each course of action, the team estimated the costs that would likely be incurred and identified potential sources of funding for implementation.

The extent of the hurricane damage, combined with the preexisting economic challenges, meant that the recovery actions identified covered every aspect of a modern economy. The hundreds of courses of action represent complex actions that need to be understood in context with how they redress these challenges, with insights into how they connect with the key interests of inclusiveness and innovation, what their contributions will be toward meeting the strategic objectives that the governor of Puerto Rico identified, and their impact on the total cost of the plan. To help the government of Puerto Rico select a cohesive and effective set of courses of action for its recovery plan, the HSOAC team bundled these courses of action into portfolios and developed a unique decision support tool to summarize and synthesize possible options. Ultimately, the analysis and support provided by the HSOAC team facilitated the governor's final decision on which courses of action and portfolios to select, but neither HSOAC nor the decision support engagements exclusively determined the content of the final recovery plan.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Damage and Needs

  • Chapter Three

    Building the Basis for the Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico

  • Chapter Four

    Courses of Action

  • Chapter Five

    Facilitating the Government of Puerto Rico's Development of the Recovery Plan

  • Chapter Six

    Summary and the Way Forward

  • Appendix A

    Sources Used in Course of Action Development, by Sector

  • Appendix B

    Course of Action Descriptions

Research conducted by

This research was sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and conducted by the Strategy, Policy and Operations Program within Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.