Using root cause analysis (RCA) to facilitate corrective actions, after action reports (AARs), and improvement plans

Ralph Renger, Mary Davis, Brenda Granillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Root cause analysis (RCA) is methodology recommended by the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) for examining why exercise objectives were not met and providing specific recommendations for corrective action. The consequence of not completing the RCA as required by HSEEP is significant. In the absence of a RCA arriving at the best corrective action is less likely. Despite its importance, there is research evidence from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that the RCA is seldom completed. Several reasons are presented as to why the RCA is not completed including a lack of guidance as to how to conduct a RCA.An example of how to complete a RCA is provided followed by a discussion of the benefits of using the approach over traditional exercise debriefing methods. Reasons why there may be continued resistance to using RCA despite having the necessary facilitation skills and dedicated time are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)442-448
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Emergency Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012



  • RCA
  • RCA and exercise evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research

Cite this