The history of Cal OES
With over 38 million residents (12% of the population), the State of California is the most populous state in the nation and has the third largest land area among the states (163,695 square miles). California is culturally, ethnically, economically, ecologically, and politically diverse, and maintains the eighth largest economy in the world with 13 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product. California also faces numerous risks and threats to our people, property, economy, environment and is prone to earthquakes, floods, significant wildfires, prolonged drought impacts, public health emergencies, cybersecurity attacks, agricultural and animal disasters, as well threats to homeland security. Cal OES takes a proactive approach to addressing these risks, threats, and vulnerabilities that form the basis of our mission and has been tested through real events, as well as comprehensive exercises that help us maintain our state of readiness and plan for and mitigate impacts.
Cal OES History. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) began as the State War Council in 1943. With an increasing emphasis on emergency management, it officially became OES in 1970. In 2004, the California Legislature merged OES and the Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Planning, which was responsible for providing state and federal grant funds to local communities to prevent crime and help crime victims.
In 2003, with the State increasing its focus on terrorism prevention after the attacks of 9/11, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security (OHS) was established through an Executive Order by Governor Gray Davis.
In 2009, the California Legislature merged the powers, purposes, and responsibilities of the former OES with those of OHS into the newly- created California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA).
On July 1, 2013, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s Reorganization Plan #2 eliminated Cal EMA and restored it to the Governor’s Office, renaming it the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), and merging it with the Office of Public Safety Communications.
Today, Cal OES performs its broader mission by administering numerous programs that support our stakeholders, protect our communities, and help create a resilient California.