Topoff 4 to take place in Portland, Phoenix

Portland, Ore., and Phoenix have been identified as sites for the nation's next disaster response drill.

The two cities are expected to host Topoff 4 in May 2007. The multimillion-dollar drill, whose name is short for Top Officials, is the third to be run by the Department of Homeland Security to test federal, state and local preparedness and response capabilities to a complex terrorist attack scenario.

A chief focus of the exercises has been the communications and data systems used to share information during crises. At the earlier exercises, federal, state and local agencies tested communication systems under development and even responses to cyberwarfare [See GCN story].

Anna Richter Taylor, a spokeswoman for Oregon Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski, confirmed the selection of Portland as a site for the event. News reports in Oregon indicated Phoenix was also selected for Topoff 4, although Taylor said she could not immediately confirm that. DHS officials did not return a call for comment.

Taylor said the governor supports Portland's hosting of the Topoff 4 drill and will consider providing some financial aid for it. 'The governor made it clear that we wanted to collaborate and there would be grants involved,' Taylor said in the phone interview.

The first federal Topoff drill was held in May 2000, before the formation of DHS. Topoff 2 took place in Chicago and Seattle in May 2003 to test responses to simulated dirty-bomb and biological-weapon attacks. The exercise involved thousands of public and private response agencies in both locations, as well as Canadian agencies.

Next month, Topoff 3 will be held in Connecticut and New Jersey, with additional support in the United Kingdom. The types of attacks to be simulated have not been disclosed.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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