Office of Operations
21st Century Operations Using 21st Century Technologies

Section 1.0. Introduction

National Security Special Events (NSSEs) occur with some frequency, with 35 of these events held between September 1998 and February 2010.  NSSEs include, but are not limited to, presidential inaugurations, presidential nominating conventions, major sports events such as the Super Bowl, and major international meetings such as the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit. 

The US Secret Service (USSS) designates these planned special events as NSSEs due to the Secret Service’s responsibility for operational security for events of national significance.  Once an event receives an NSSE designation, the USSS relies on partnerships with federal, state, and local officials to provide a safe and secure environment for the event and for those in attendance.  In most cases, the NSSE affects the transportation system for the jurisdiction in which the NSSE occurs.  The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is providing this document to assist state departments of transportation (DOTs) and local transportation, public works, and law enforcement agencies in planning and executing transportation for NSSEs.

This document is a compendium of research from a variety of sources and interviews with numerous individuals who have been involved with NSSEs. The document provides a transportation overview of NSSEs and includes:

  • Lessons learned and good practices from previous NSSEs
  • Transportation-focused case studies of the 2009 G-20 Summit and the 2008 Democratic National Convention including references for further information
  • A “playbook” providing more detailed information about transportation activities for an NSSE
  • A fact sheet providing an overview of an NSSE
  • A fact sheet template as an aid to provide information about an NSSE to appropriate groups in both the planning and implementation phases of these events
  • A resource guide with contacts who can provide their perspectives on NSSEs in which they were involved
  • A list of references for further information.

Please direct any inquiries, information, suggested improvements, and requests for copies to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Operations, Emergency Transportation Operations Team, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20590, or via email to

May 2011
Publication #FHWA-HOP-11-012