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Understanding the Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response (S-60)

Welcome to the Understanding the Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response (S-60) transition site page. Here you will find all sorts of useful information about what S-60 does, how it is organized, and the manner in which it operates. For additional information about S-60, please go to

Who We Are

The mission of S-60 is to ensure the development, coordination and execution of plans and procedures for the Department of Transportation to balance transportation security requirements with the safety, mobility and economic needs of the Nation through effective intelligence, security, preparedness and emergency response programs.

What We Do

S-60 is comprised of five primary areas of responsibility:

  • Intelligence; Security Policy;
  • Preparedness, which includes National Security Continuity, International Civil Transportation Emergency Preparedness, and Training and Exercise Programs;
  • Operations, which includes the Crisis Management Center and National Preparedness Programs; and
  • Protective Services.

Currently, the office has assigned one staff member as the liaison officer to North American Aerospace Defense /U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Additionally, an intelligence staff officer is assigned to the National Counterterrorism Center to coordinate the flow of national intelligence.

Organization Chart

Office of Intelligence, security, and Emergency Response Organization Chart

Line of Succession

The order of succession for the S-60 is as follows:

  1. Director
  2. Deputy Director

The Director or Deputy Director may appoint additional senior staff to act on their behalf as necessary and appropriate.

Key Officials

Director: Michael W. Lowder

Michael W. Lowder serves as the Director of the Office of Intelligence, Security & Emergency Response (S-60) for the U.S. Department of Transportation. A member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and is designated as a National Security Professional and a Federal Senior Intelligence Coordinator. Mr. Lowder is the Department's Emergency Coordinator providing leadership for all departmental civil transportation intelligence issues, security policy, and emergency preparedness, response, and recovery activities related to emergencies that affect the viability of the transportation sector. In 2012 he was awarded the Presidential Rank Award – Distinguished Executive. In 2011 he was awarded the DOT Secretary's Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement. He was selected in 2015 to represent the U.S. at the China Executive Leadership Academy (CELAP).


Prior to this Mr. Lowder served as the Deputy Director of the Response Division for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in Washington, D.C. Mr. Lowder has been designated and served as both a Principal Federal Official (PFO) and a Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO). Mr. Lowder was a member of FEMA's National Emergency Response Team (ERT-N), and the Domestic Emergency Response Team (DEST).

Mr. Lowder has more than 35 years of experience in the law enforcement, and emergency services field, as a Special Agent with the US Government, the State of North Carolina as a Special Agent with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and as the Director of Emergency Services with Bladen County, North Carolina.

Mr. Lowder has represented the U.S. government at meetings and conferences in the United Kingdom, Russia, China, Australia, Japan, Belgium, Taiwan, and Turkey, as well as throughout the United States. He represented the U.S. at NATO-RUSSIA counter-terrorism exercises in Kaliningrad, Russia and at the "Black Rain" CT exercises in the UK. He serves on the Executive Board on the FBI's National Joint Terrorism Task Force (NJTTF), the ODNI's National HUMINT Committee, and represents the Department on National Security Council (NSC) and Homeland Security Council (HSC) policy and advisory groups. He is the US lead for the US-China Transportation Forum-Transportation Emergencies Working Group. He also serves as the DOT lead on the US-Russia Joint Committee on Cooperation in Emergency Management.

Deputy Director: Donna L. O'Berry

Donna O'Berry is the Deputy Director of the Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). A member of the Senior Executive Service, Donna is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the office and assists the Director in leading departmental civil transportation intelligence issues, security policy, and emergency preparedness, response, and recovery activities related to emergencies that affect the viability of the transportation sector.


Donna has a long history with USDOT and with the Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response, having served as the primary staff attorney-advisor on all legal aspects of intelligence, security, and emergency response, during her tenure as a Senior Attorney-Advisor with USDOT's Office of General Counsel. As an additional duty, she spent one year managing the office's security policy initiative and activities at the Director's request.

Donna began her Federal Government career as an Attorney-Advisor with USDOT's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA)/Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and was responsible for legal services related to the transportation of hazardous materials.

While at RSPA/PHMSA, she also served as the Acting Deputy Director of the Office of Emergency Transportation. The Office of Emergency Transportation merged with the Office of Intelligence and Security in 2003. In this position she managed the implementation and execution of the Secretary's statutory and administrative responsibilities in civil transportation emergency preparedness, which included the overall Departmental civil emergency preparedness policies, plans, procedures, systems, and programs on transportation matters ranging from man-made crises and national security emergencies to natural disasters.

In 2003, Donna served as the Staff Director for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Transition Team. In this capacity she led the USDOT team in executing a timely and smooth transition of the USCG and TSA to the Department of Homeland Security. She received the USCG Meritorious Public Service Award for her leadership on the Transition Team.

Prior to joining USDOT, Donna served as a judicial clerk in the Seventh Judicial Circuit of Maryland. Previous to attending law school, Donna was a grants administrator and program officer for an international nonprofit organization that works to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide byhelping build political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and promote citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

A graduate of the University of Tulsa and the American University Washington College of Law (cum laude), Donna resides in Maryland with her husband Bob.

Top Policy Issues

The following three items are immediate top policy issues for S-60.

DOT'S Leadership Role in Emergency Response


The Secretary of Transportation, under the direction of the President, exercises leadership in transportation matters, including those matters affecting national defense and those matters involving national or regional emergencies.

Action Needed:

The incoming Secretary and Departmental leadership should be briefed at the earliest possible time on DOT emergency operations and authorities to ensure that they can provide the required actions and guidance in the event of an incident. Additionally, the Secretary should receive a classified briefing on continuity of government operations.


The Department plays a vital role in assuring that the nation can recover from a significant natural or man-made disaster and the Department has a robust and well trained cadre of subject matter experts to provide support to DOT leadership.

The Department has three Primary Mission Essential Functions that must be continued under all circumstances, as they directly support the eight National Essential Functions established by the President. The Secretary also has designated responsibilities under the National Response Framework and may be called upon to provide options on authorities and capabilities and to coordinate any transportation sector activities.

DOT has two alternate sites where leadership and designated staff can carry out operations. Both sites have similar communications capabilities to the DOT Headquarters. The primary site is located in Southern Maryland and hosts Departmental leadership, including the leadership of Secretarial Offices and Operating Administrations and continuity staffs during a crisis. The secondary site is located in Atlanta, GA and also functions as a devolution site with a successor to the Secretary on-site in the event of a catastrophic incident that precludes the use of Headquarters or the primary alternate site.

SUBMITTED BY:Office of Intelligence, Security and Emergency Response

PREPARED BY:Michael Lowder, 366-6525,

LAST UPDATED:January 8, 2017

DOT'S Leadership Role for the Transportation System Sector


DOT's has a leadership role for the Transportation Systems Sector—under the National Infrastructure Protection Plan and presidential direction— with a mandate to develop sector-specific plans, including a cyber incident coordination effort.

Action Needed:

The Office of Intelligence, Security and Emergency Response (S-60) continues to lead DOT's joint efforts with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement 25 activities identified in the Transportation Systems Sector-Specific Plan and to implement several near-term deliverables related to cyber incident coordination. S-60 will seek DOT leadership input and guidance on some of these efforts. In particular, S-60 may need Departmental leadership action to delegate internal DOT duties for cyber incident and other coordination efforts with equities for many DOT offices.


DOT's leadership role for the Transportation Systems Sector stems from Presidential Policy Directive 21 – "Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience" (PPD-21), released in February 2013. PPD-21 advances a national unity of effort to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning, and resilient critical infrastructure. The PPD prompted updating of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan—which outlines how government and private sector work together to manage risks and achieve security and resilience outcomes in the critical infrastructure protection community.

PPD-21 notes that each critical infrastructure sector has unique characteristics, operating models, and risk profiles, which all benefit from an identified Sector-Specific Agency that has institutional knowledge and specialized expertise about the sector. PPD-21 designates DOT and DHS to share responsibilities for the Transportation Systems Sector as co-Sector-Specific Agencies.

DOT and DHS collaborate with infrastructure owners and operators to implement PPD-21, which included developing a 2015 Transportation Systems Sector-Specific Plan; serve as a day-to-day Federal interface for the dynamic prioritization and coordination of sector-specific activities; provide, support, or facilitate technical assistance and consultations for that sector to identify vulnerabilities and help mitigate incidents, as appropriate; and carry out incident management responsibilities consistent with statutory authority and other appropriate policies, directives, or regulations.

The incident management responsibilities align with the July 2016 release of PPD-41, "United States Cyber Incident Coordination," which sets forth principles governing the Federal Government's response to any cyber incident, whether involving government or private sector entities.

SUBMITTED BY:Office of Intelligence, Security, and Emergency Response

PREPARED BY:Michael Lowder, 366-6525,

LAST UPDATED:September 25, 2016

Ardent Sentry 17 – Gotham Shield Exercise


The North American Aerospace Defense/United States Northern Command (NORAD-NORTHCOM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct exercise Ardent Sentry 17 – Gotham Shield 17 April 24-28, 2017. The purpose of these exercises is to evaluate the whole community effort to prevent, protect from, respond to, and plan initial recovery after the effects of an Improvised Nuclear Device (IND) attack.

Action Needed:

As part of exercise conduct, the National Security Council is expected to convene at least one Senior-Level meeting to discuss issues arising from the notional scenario. Senior leadership should be prepared to participate in a 2-4 hour meeting and speak to DOT priorities and concerns in response to the notional IND attack and player response to the notional incident.


Gotham Shield consists of several partnered exercises that utilize a common scenario and incorporate the protect, prevent, response, and elements of the recovery mission area:

Vital Archer

is 2017's iteration of the annual Department of Defense (DoD) exercise aligned to the counterterrorism response operations, including weapons of mass destruction outside the contiguous United States.

Vibrant Response

is 2017's iteration of NORTHCOM's annual field training exercise for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive consequence management forces designed to improve their ability to respond to catastrophic incidents.

Fuerzas Amigas

is 2017's iteration of U.S. and Mexico's annual cross border military operations exercise.

Ardent Sentry

is 2017's iteration of NORAD-NORTHCOM's major annual exercise focused on Defense Support of Civil Authorities.

Prominent Hunt

is 2017's iteration of the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office National Technical Nuclear Forensics Ground Collection Task Force's annual exercise centered on assessing the United States' capability to collect radioactive evidence in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation.

Whole of Government exercises traditionally incorporate exercise conduct at the Secretary- and Deputy Secretary-level.

SUBMITTED BY:Office of Intelligence, Security and Emergency Response

PREPARED BY:Michael Lowder, 366-6525,

LAST UPDATED:September 25, 2016

Stakeholders and External Relations

Stakeholders and External Relations


Short explanation

Intelligence CommunityA collective group of 17 Departments and Agency. DOT collaborates and coordinates to provide access and awareness of transportation subject matter experts and tailored assistance on national security and intelligence matters related to DOT authorities and equities.
Airlines for America (A4A)Airlines for America - fka Air Transport Association of America
All DOT Operating Administrations and OST offices 
All Hazards ConsortiumNon-profit group established for transportation information sharing between public/private partners
American Association of State Highway and Transportation OfficialsAASHTO
American Bus Association 
American Public Transportation AssociationAPTA
American Red Cross 
AMTRAK (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) 
Andrews AFB 
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)Oversee APEC efforts on Global Supply Chain Resilience
Association of American Railroads (AAR) 
Aviation Sector Coordinating CouncilThe Sector Coordinating Councils (SCCs) are self-organized, self-governed councils that enable critical infrastructure owners/operators, their trade associations, and other industry representatives to interact on a wide range of sector-specific strategies, policies, and activities. The SCCs coordinate and collaborate with sector-specific agencies (SSAs) and related Government Coordinating Councils (GCCs) to address the entire range of critical infrastructure security/resilience policies and efforts for the sector.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
Corporation for National and Community Service 
Critical infrastructure Warning Information Network 
CSWGCross-Sector Working Group
CWG/TSSCWGTransportation Systems Sector Cyber Working Group
Federal Department & AgenciesAll Federal Departments/Agencies as appropriate
Deepwater Horizon - BP Oil Spill 
Defense Logistics Agency 
Delta Regional Authority 
Director of National Intelligence 
Edison Electric InstituteAssociation of shareholder-owned electric companies
ESFLGEmergency Support Function Leaders Group
Freight Rail Sector Coordinating Council 
Highway and Motor Carrier Sector Coordinating Council 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)A United Nation's specialized agency, established by States in 1944 to manage the administration and governance of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention). ICAO works with the Convention's 191 Member States and industry groups to reach consensus on international civil aviation Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.
Maritime Sector Coordinating Council 
Mass Transit Passenger Rail SCC 
Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination Program 
North Atlantic Treaty OrganizationUS Representative to NATO Transport Group, as mandated by EO 12656
Northern Command (NORTHCOM)/North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) 
ODNIOffice of the Director of National Intelligence
Office of Director of National Intelligence 
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center 
Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) 
Pipeline Sector Coordinating Council 
Regional Emergency Transportation Coordinators and Representatives (RETCO & RETREP) 
RSFLGRecovery Support Function Leadership Group
SCOTSEMAASHTO Special Committee on Transportation Security and Emergency Management
Seafarer's Union InternationalLandlord of alternate site
Sector Specific AgenciesSSAs for the 16 Critical Infrastructure Sectors
Subsector Government Coordinating CouncilsGovernment Coordinating Councils (GCCs) are formed as the government counterpart for each Sector Coordinating Council (SCC) to enable interagency and cross-jurisdictional coordination. The GCCs are comprised of representatives from across various levels of government (federal, state, local, or tribal), as appropriate to the operating landscape of each individual sector.
Surface Transportation Information Sharing & Analysis Center 
The Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA)(Originally the Cooperative Arrangement for the Prevention of Spread of Communicable Diseases through Air Travel). CAPSCA is an ICAO global program to improve preparedness planning and response to public health events that affect the aviation sector, such as an influenza pandemic or a nuclear power-plant accident. CAPSCA arranges assistance visits to States and international airports. These joint ICAO/WHO visits by aviation and public health experts facilitate training for aviation and health professionals who are involved in public health event planning in the aviation sector.
Transport Canada 
Transportation Research Board 
Transportation Sector Government Coordinating CouncilNewly formed Sector-wide GCC covering all modes/subsectors of transportation
US/Brazil Transportation PartnershipCo-Chair the Disaster Preparedness & Response Working Group
US/Canada Emergency Preparedness Committee for Civil TransportationServe as Co-Chair for this committee, which prepares and coordinates response to cross-border issues during disasters impacting both nations
US/China Transportation ForumDirector of S-60 is Co-Chair of the Safety and Disaster Assistance Working Group
West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center 
WHCAWhite House Communications Agency
WHMOWhite House Military Office
Updated: Monday, January 30, 2017
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