Louisiana Establishes First Statewide Chief Resilience Officer

Photo: Cubadebate, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On Monday, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed legislation creating Louisiana’s first statewide Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). This position will focus on coordinating across all state agencies to develop and advocate for resilience policy responses to environmental hazards.

“The concept of resilience means doing everything we can to avoid the cost of disasters to our people, to our land, and to our way of life,” said Gov. Edwards in a press release. “This is an urgent need not just for our coastal region, but for the entire state, which feels the effects of hurricanes, storms, and land loss on a yearly basis. This new position will ensure that successive governors continue to prioritize this issue and seek funding to help our communities as they prepare to thrive in the future.”

The position was created by HB 526, which was authored by Rep. Jerome Zeringue (R-Houma), and will be housed within the Office of the Governor.

“My goals in bringing this legislation were to help make state government ore efficient and effective when it comes to seeking funding and as it crafts policies that can make our state more resilient and better able to address the needs of our communities,” said Rep. Jerome Zeringue (R-Houma). “What we learned while working on coastal issues is that you can be much more effective when you are competing for funding when you speak with a single voice and with the authority of the Governor’s Office, something crucially important with the unprecedented levels of federal funding for resilience projects available today.”

The CRO will take on pressing issues affecting multiple regions, state agencies, or governmental missions, as well as participating in efforts such as the Coastal Master Plan, State Hazard Mitigation Plan, and Watershed Plan. Each year, the CRO will produce a report outlining the state’s major resilience priorities.

The law also creates the Louisiana Resilience Task Force, which will meet quarterly and make strategic recommendations recommendations to the CRO. This task force will be chaired by the CRO, and will include:

  • The director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness or designee.
  • The Governor’s Executive Assistant for Coastal Activities or designee
  • The commissioner of the division of administration or designee
  • The commissioner of insurance or designee
  • The secretary of the Department of Transportation and Development or designee
  • The executive director of the Police Jury Association of Louisiana, Inc. or designee
  • The executive director of the Parish Presidents of Louisiana Association or designee
  • The speaker of the House of Representatives or designee
  • The president of the Senate or designee
  • The executive director or his designee of Louisiana Municipal
  •  A member from the Public Service Commission.
  • The commissioner of higher education or designee
  • The secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services or designee

“This is a critical step forward for Louisiana,” said Camille Manning-Broome, President and CEO at the Center for Planning Excellence. “This position provides more nimble decision making across state government and collaboration among public and private actors at the local, state, and federal levels that can make valuable contributions to our governance system – as well as an opportunity to work closely with communities to adapt programs and policies to address the complex constellation of risk and challenges they are facing.”

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