Interoperable Communications: Assessing Progress Since 9/11, Hearing Before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, Second Session, November 18, 2014   [open pdf - 525KB]

This testimony compilation is from the November 18, 2014 hearing, "Interoperable Communications: Assessing Progress Since 9/11," held before the US House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications. From the opening statement of Chairman Brooks: "As you well know, the 9/11 Commission report examined the communications failures first responders experienced at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and recommended the allocation of radio spectrum to public safety for the creation of an interoperable public safety communications network. Unfortunately, communications challenges persisted during Hurricane Katrina. Much has changed since 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina exposed significant gaps in communications capabilities. Congress established the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) in the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act to coordinate Federal interoperable communications programs and conduct outreach to support emergency response providers. OEC has worked with States on the development of Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans and in 2008 issued the first National Emergency Communications Plan, which included goals for achieving communications capabilities at the state and local levels. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Grant Programs Directorate reports that states and localities have invested more than $5 billion in preparedness grant funding to enhance their communications capabilities. These grants have been used for planning, training, exercises, equipment, and to fund Statewide Interoperability Coordinator positions. […]These are all important steps. But we know that challenges remain and more work must be done. Despite all these programs and investments, interoperable communications continues to be a challenge during disaster response, as evidenced during the response to Hurricane Sandy and the Navy Yard shooting. We must continue to work to ensure first responders have the tools they need to communicate." Statements, letters and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Susan Brooks, Ronald Hewitt, TJ Kennedy, and Mark Grubb.

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