Civil Protection in Austria

National Crisis and Disaster Management (SKKM)

Diagram: the Main Players in Austrian Disaster Management
Diagram: the Main Players in Austrian Disaster Management
© Michael Felfernig, BM.I based on German version by Siegfried Jachs, BMI

Combating, eliminating or mitigating the effects of imminent disasters or disasters that already occurred (disaster relief, preparedness) falls mainly within the responsibility of the Federal provinces in Austria. The disaster relief acts of the Federal provinces, which primarily define the declaration of a disaster and the command and control structure in the municipalities, districts and Federal provinces form the legal basis.

When crises and disasters occur an increased coordination is required which is ensured by the SKKM. Its administration is established within the MOI. The SKKM enables efficient disaster management in Austria and abroad based on cooperation between all competent authorities and rescue organizations at federal and provincial level.

Development of the SKKM

Major disasters in Austria and abroad, such as the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986 and the massive flooding in Central Europe in 2002, have demonstrated that disasters require overall coordination across and beyond the administrative competences of local and regional authorities. For this reason, in 1986 national crisis management at the Federal Chancellery was set up by the Federal Government. Since May 2003 the coordination of national crisis management and disaster management as well as international disaster relief affairs falls within the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of the Interior. Based on the Ministerial Council Decision of 20 January 2004 (18,2 KB) , the National Crisis and Disaster Management (SKKM) was reorganized. The most important innovation was the merging of coordination bodies, which had existed in different departments into one single new coordination committee chaired by the Director General for Public Security. 

Chart: Coordination and Command and Control
Chart: Coordination and Command and Control
by SKKM, © Michael Felfernig, BM.I; Original in Siegfried Jachs:
Einführung in das Katastrophenmanagement.
Hamburg: Tredition 2011, p. 254

The Federal ministries, Federal provinces, rescue organizations and the media are represented in this coordination committee. In case of major threats the committee is responsible for the coordination and consultation regarding the necessary measures at the Federal and Provincial levels. The committee is active as coordinating body not only in case of disasters but also in basic planning. In consultation with the Federal provinces, eight expert groups have been set up for the basic planning, for example, for legal, technical, and operational matters.

The Federal Alarm Center (FAC), since January 2006 part of the Operations and Coordination Center (EKC), has been serving as 24/7-staffed information hub and national contact point. It is the point of contact for the Federal provinces, the neighboring countries, the European Union and International Organizations.

In the case of complex crisis and disasters, it is the task of the SKKM to ensure a quick coordination between the federal authorities and the provinces. The current policy is provided by the SKKM-Strategie 2020.