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Interagency Security Committee

Collaborative organization that provides leadership to the nonmilitary federal community supporting physical security programs that are comprehensive and risk based

Planning and Response to an Active Shooter

Message from the Interagency Security Committee Chair

One of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) national priorities is the protection of Federal employees and private citizens who work within and visit U.S. government-owned or leased facilities. The Interagency Security Committee (ISC), chaired by DHS and consisting of 54 Federal departments and agencies, has as its mission the development of security standards and best practices for nonmilitary Federal facilities in the United States. 

As Chair of the ISC, I am pleased to introduce the new document titled Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practices Guide (nonFOUO). The For Official Use Only (FOUO) version of this document was initially released to the Federal community only in July 2015. It streamlined existing ISC policy on active shooter incidents into one cohesive policy and guidance document to enhance preparedness for an active shooter incident at Federal facilities. The non-FOUO version is being made publicly available as a reference document for the private sector so that a wider audience may benefit from the information presented herein.

In many cases, active shooter incidents can be unpredictable in nature and can evolve quickly. As such, a number of guidance documents exist on how to prepare for and respond to an active shooter incident. Although previous ISC documents discussed active shooter incidents, such as the Violence in the Federal Workplace: A Guide for Prevention and Response and Occupant Emergency Programs: An Interagency Security Committee Guide, this single cohesive document with greater concentration on active shooter incidents serves as a resource for Federal agencies and departments, and enhances preparedness for an active shooter incident in a Federal facility.

This policy and guidance, approved with full concurrence of the ISC primary members, is a significant milestone and represents exemplary collaboration across the ISC and among the ISC Active Shooter Working Group in developing the first ISC document combining policy and planning guidance. This Policy and Best Practices Guide was approved November 12, 2015 and will be reviewed and updated as needed. 

Caitlin Durkovich 
Assistant Secretary 
Infrastructure Protection

ISC Policy


The policy outlined herein is meant to establish baseline agency/department protocols across the Federal government for active shooter situations. The Interagency Security Committee (ISC), under the authority of Presidential Executive Orders 12977 and 13286, mandates that the following policy be enacted at all nonmilitary Federal facilities. Additionally, wherever possible, it is recommended that Agencies commit to the implementation of the best practices outlined in the subsequent sections of this document:  Planning and Response to an Active Shooter: An Interagency Security Committee Policy and Best Practices Guide.


1) Each facility shall have an active shooter preparedness plan, which is to be updated every two years, as needed. At a minimum, a plan should comprise the following elements:

a. Security Assessments

b. Preparedness

c. Communication

d. Incident Plan (i.e., actions to take during an incident)

e. Training and Exercises

f. Post Incident Recovery

  • i. Employees
  • ii. Operations

2) As plans are drafted, reviewed, and updated, each facility Designated Official or designee shall collaborate with the facility security provider (e.g. Federal Protective Service [FPS], U.S. Marshals Service [USMS], etc.), on-site law enforcement agencies (if applicable), and first responder agencies likely to address an active shooter situation.

3) Agency representatives shall collaborate with other tenants/agencies in development of the plan.

4) Agency representatives shall provide training, materials, and/or awareness discussions to inform employees of active shooter preparedness plans as they are updated. 

a. Employees should be aware of the Federally-endorsed run, hide, fight concept.

b. Employees should be informed of the importance of having a personal plan.

c. New employees should be given active shooter preparedness training during the initial onboarding period. 

5) The active shooter plan need not be a stand-alone document. The agency/facility security officials and/or Designated Official will determine the best way to incorporate the active shooter plan into existing protocols.

6) As previously noted, the six points above are policy requirements for all agencies within the Executive Branch of the Federal government. What follows throughout the rest of this document is a set of best practices and recommendations which are not policy requirements—these are meant to assist with the implementation of an active shooter plan as mandated by this policy.

Executive Summary

The primary mission of the ISC Active Shooter Working Group is to streamline existing ISC documents on active shooter into one cohesive policy and guidance document that agencies housed in Federal facilities can use as a reference to enhance prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery efforts related to an active shooter incident. The goal of the ISC’s Active Shooter Working Group is to promote the highest chance of victim and responder survivability through awareness, prevention, education, and training. 

This guidance is designed to be applicable to all buildings and facilities in the United States occupied by Federal employees. These include existing buildings, new construction, or major modernizations; facilities owned, or being purchased, or leased; stand-alone facilities; Federal campuses; where appropriate, individual facilities on Federal campuses; and special-use facilities. 

Due to the nature of an active shooter event, this document contains guidance for all who might be involved, including law enforcement agencies, facility tenants, and the public. Certain responsibilities outlined within this document are specific to designated law enforcement officers or personnel possessing the authority and training to take immediate action to contain, apprehend, or neutralize an active threat. Other sections of this document are meant to educate facility tenants regarding actions they can take to save themselves or others.

Read here the full document

Suplemento Temático: Los nuevos retos del Director de Seguridad


Fuente: Interagency Security Committee
Fecha: November 2015

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