Picture7National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

The four NEHRP agencies work in close coordination to improve the Nation’s understanding of earthquake hazards and to mitigate their effects. The missions of the four agencies are complementary, and the agencies work together to improve our understanding, characterization, and assessment of hazards and vulnerabilities; improve model building codes and land use practices; reduce risks through post-earthquake investigations and education; improve design and construction techniques; improve the capacity of government at all levels and the private sector to reduce and manage earthquake risk; and accelerate the application of research results. All four agencies are responsible for coordinating program activities with similar activities in other countries.

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
    NEHRP responsibilities include: promoting the implementation of research results; promoting better building practices; providing assistance to enable states to improve earthquake preparedness, emergency response and management; supporting the implementation of a earthquake education and public awareness program; assisting NIST and others in the implementation of improved earthquake-resistant design guidance for building codes and standards for new and existing buildings, structures, and lifelines; aiding in the development of performance-based design procedures; developing, coordinating, and executing the National Response Plan when required following earthquakes; and, developing approaches to combine earthquake hazards reduction measures with measures for reducing hazards for other natural and technological hazards (“multi-hazard design”).
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
    Designated as the lead NEHRP agency and has the primary responsibility for NEHRP planning and coordination. NIST conducts applied earthquake engineering research to provide the technical basis for building codes, standards, and practices, and is responsible for working with FEMA and others to implement improved earthquake-resistant design guidance for building codes and standards for new and existing buildings, structures, and lifelines. PL 108–360 assigns NIST significant new research and development (R&D) responsibilities to close the research-to-implementation gap and accelerate the use of new earthquake risk mitigation technologies based on the earth sciences and engineering knowledge developed through NEHRP efforts. These new responsibilities address a major technology transfer gap identified in the NEHRP Strategic Plan 2001-2005 (PDF 217KB)—developed in partnership with the stakeholder community. This gap is the limited adaptation of basic research knowledge gained through NSF-sponsored research into practical application. At the request of NIST, the Applied Technology Council (ATC) developed an R&D roadmap in 2003 to address the research-to-implementation gap (visit Summary Overview of the R&D Roadmap for more information). NIST is also responsible for supporting the development of performance-based design tools for building codes, standards, and construction practices.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF)
    Supports fundamental research at the frontiers of science and engineering to advance the nation’s health, welfare, and safety. NSF supports research in seismology, structural and geotechnical earthquake engineering, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences pertinent to preparation for, mitigation of, responses to, and recovery from earthquakes and related events such as tsunamis and landslides. NSF also supports research to improve the safety and performance of geomaterials, buildings, structures, and lifeline systems using the large-scale experimental facilities of the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES). Experimental and computational research is also supported at other institutions and through earthquake-related centers to develop a better understanding of the behavior of the Earth, foundations, buildings, bridges, and other structures, including the use of high-performance materials, advanced technologies, and smart structures for seismic hazard mitigation. NSF also supports post-earthquake reconnaissance, and collection of perishable data following a catastrophic event. NSF cooperates with USGS in the construction and operation of the Global Seismograph Network (GSN) and the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), to provide accurate, thorough, and timely information about earthquake ground motions and related effects. These research activities also support the NSF priority of broadening participation in science and engineering. NSF emphasizes programs aimed at tapping the potential of underrepresented groups, and ensuring that the United States maintains a world-class science and engineering workforce.
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS)
    Provides the Nation with earthquake monitoring and notification, delivers regional and national seismic hazard assessments, conducts targeted geoscience research, and coordinates post-earthquake investigations. The USGS Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) includes regional and national seismic networks and the National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC), which provides rapid reporting of global earthquake information. NSF and USGS jointly support the GSN, which provides high-quality seismic data to support earthquake and tsunami disaster response, hazards assessments, national security (through nuclear test treaty monitoring), and fundamental research into earthquake processes and the structure of the Earth. USGS develops and maintains national seismic hazard maps that form the basis for seismic provisions in building codes and performance-based structural design. The USGS program receives oversight and guidance from the external Scientific Earthquake Studies Advisory Committee (SESAC), which was established in the 2000 reauthorization of NEHRP.