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How ORISE is Making a Difference

ORISE plans full-scale exercises to test security at major U.S. Bureau of Reclamation dams

ORISE has served as lead exercise planner for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation’s Critical Infrastructure Exercise Program since its inception in 2003. Six of the dams operated by BOR are designated as National Critical Infrastructure facilities: Flaming Gorge, Folsom, Glen Canyon, Grand Coulee, Hoover and Shasta. The program helps BOR answer an important question—are these massive dams secure in the event of a terrorist attack?

Exercise programs for each of these critical facilities typically extend over a 12-month period during which ORISE facilitates a series of exercise events that test emergency response plans. ORISE guides the dam’s staff, often alongside federal, state and local responder agencies, through planning conferences, tabletop exercises and workshops to prepare and discuss potential challenges.

In some cases, such as at Hoover and Shasta dams, ORISE conducts full-scale exercises to provide a safe learning environment to test, as realistically as possible, key issues such as agency response capability, intelligence collection and dissemination, radio communication, and Incident Command/Unified Command establishment and operations. Typically involving more than 200 participants representing the BOR and other local, state and federal agencies, these exercises offer valuable opportunities to build interagency relationships and practice coordinated response. Feedback sessions immediately following exercise-play capture participant observations, and ORISE typically facilitates a formal debriefing to capture initial findings and recommendations from the exercise.

In 2010, ORISE conducted an exercise at Shasta Dam, which spans California’s Sacramento River. The 2008 exercise was at Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border. Exercises were conducted at Washington’s Grand Coulee Dam in 2005 and at Flaming Gorge Dam in Utah in 2003.

Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) Hoover Dam