Public Safety Communications Policy [Updated July 24, 2006]   [open pdf - 162KB]

"Since September 11, 2001, the effectiveness of America's communications capabilities in support of the information needs of first responders and other public safety workers has been a matter of concern to Congress. The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-458) included sections that responded to recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, in its report of July 2004, and by others in recent years, regarding public safety communications. Most public safety advocates consider that the communications failures following the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina demonstrate that there is much still to be done to provide the United States with adequate communications capabilities in emergencies. Senator Susan M. Collins has introduced a bill (S. 3595), to create an Emergency Management Authority within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), that includes planning and organizational responsibilities for setting standards, for public safety and for communications infrastructure. Provisions from the bill have been agreed by the Senate as S.Amdt. 4560 to H.R. 5441(Representative Rogers), the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act for 2007. Representative David G. Reichert has introduced a bill (H.R. 5351) that would establish a Directorate for Emergency Management within DHS. Sections of the bill cover public safety communications and interoperability. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (S. 3172) covers the creation of an Office of Emergency Communications with provisions similar .R. 5351. H.R. 5759 (Representative Harris) also would create a Directorate of Emergency Management and contains provisions for communications and interoperability."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32594
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