The National Incident Management System

In February 2003, President George W. Bush signed Homeland Security Presidential Directive 5 (HSPD-5), an order mandating the development of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). HSPD-5 assigned the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as the “principal Federal Officer for domestic incident management,” bearing the responsibility for coordinating all federal response efforts in a terrorist attack.
HSPD-5 recognizes the ongoing need for federal government responders to effectively work with state and local authorities, both for incidents of terrorism and other emergencies. The directive promises assistance to state and local governments in planning, training, equipment, and exercises, in furtherance of this aim. HSPD-5 places the responsibility for the criminal investigation of terrorist incidents to the U.S. attorney general, acting through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), supported by other federal law enforcement authorities, as appropriate to the specific incident. (Previously, under Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 39, signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995, this responsibility had also been assigned to the FBI.)