U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Crisis? Call the Ad Hocracy

NCJ Number
Security Management Volume: 33 Issue: 9 Dated: (September 1989) Pages: 209-216
R Thornburgh
Date Published
8 pages
This address by Richard Thornburgh, the Governor of Pennsylvania at the time of the nuclear plant crisis at Three-Mile Island in 1979, draws lessons for the management of crisis situations.
One lesson is to expect the unexpected and adjust accordingly. A second lesson is to establish an "ad hocracy," i.e., a group of select persons qualified to address the crisis, rather than attempt to work through the existing entrenched bureaucracy. Persons who think solely in terms of doing something, regardless of safety or necessity, must be restrained. Another lesson is to manage the emergency at the site. Also, to search for and evaluate facts and their sources again and again, and communicate these facts truthfully and carefully to the public. In the case of government crises, partisanship should be avoided, and no emergency is over until steps have been taken to ensure that the crisis cannot recur. The public will long remember its anxiety in the midst of the crisis and will demand that prompt and effective steps be taken to keep the crisis from being repeated.


No download available