About Us


The Big City Emergency Managers (BCEM) was founded in 2005 by the Council for Excellence in Government with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Since that time, it has become an independent, non-profit organization. Its participation has increased from 4 to 15 jurisdictions, representing over 20% of the nation’s population and 90% of the Urban Area Security Initiative Grant (UASI) funds that are allocated by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) annually.

Mission Statement

The mission of BCEM is to foster the development and growth of robust and nimble emergency management operations in the nation’s largest, most at-risk metropolitan jurisdictions so that the country is better positioned to prevent, protect against, mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from major incidents and catastrophic emergencies.


Big City Emergency Managers is committed to the following goals:

  • An independent and capable emergency management agency (EMA) in place in every large metropolitan jurisdiction in the USA.
  • A NIMS planning system whereby resources from every state and large metropolitan jurisdiction in the United States can be used to help each other rapidly and integrate into a seamless catastrophic response and recovery operation (Horizontal Integration).
  • A NIMS response system whereby resources from all levels of government work together on a common set of objectives and shared goals to respond and recover from catastrophic incidents (Vertical Integration).


The methods by which BCEM works to achieve its goals include the following:

  • Establishing a network that can be used to share and exchange information, experiences and best practices related to the prevention, protection, preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation in the areas of homeland security and emergency management;
  • Developing productive relationships with key policy and decision makers, stakeholders and partners including the U.S. Congress, executive branch Department and agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services and the National Security Staff as well as the private sector and academia;
  • Advocating for and advancing critical emergency management issues, such as the development of a post-disaster interim housing solution for dense urban environments and policies that significantly impact major metropolitan areas; and
  • Working to elevate the importance of strong and independent emergency management operations in major metropolitan areas.


The activities of BCEM focuses on meeting the goals set forth above by fostering the promotion and exchange of experiences, best practices and lessons learned among its participants with the goal of preventing, protecting against, mitigating, preparing for, responding to and recovering from the full range of hazards that that may affect member jurisdictions. Such activities include:

  • Planning meetings for the Big City Emergency Managers to share best practices and lessons learned with regard to preventing, protecting against, mitigating, preparing for, and responding to, and recovering from the full range of hazards;
  • Providing subject matter expertise to government panels, study groups, policy makers, to inform policy decisions, strategies, and guidance that are reflective of the unique qualities of large cities;
  • Promoting the education and training of BCEM member staff to improve the standards of performance and productivity;
  • Providing information and educational materials to the media, educational institutions, government and the public, in general, concerning the accomplishments of the Big City Emergency Management community;
  • Supporting research to investigate improvements in the emergency management discipline;
  • Working to cultivate the support and respect of the public for the emergency management profession by promoting a professional standard of excellence;
  • Promoting emergency management as an honorable and worthwhile career and occupational choice; and,
  • Performing and promoting other activities as would further the goals of ensuring that the Emergency Managers of large jurisdictions are working to prevent, protect against, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the range of hazards that may affect these jurisdictions.


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