FCC releases report on agency's preparedness for major emergencies

Published 9 September 2009

The FCC has an important role to play in ensuring that the U.S. communications infrastructure serves the public safety needs; a new report concludes that the agency largely meets this challenge, but that there are a few area where matter can be improved

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Julius

Genachowski today released a comprehensive report on the Commission’s ability to respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, public health emergencies, and other large-scale events. The report, entitled FCC’s Preparedness for a Major Public Emergency and prepared by the

Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, is in response to the 30-day, top-to-bottom state-of-readiness review launched by Chairman Genachowski as one of his first actions at the agency.

The FCC has an important role to play in ensuring that our nation’s communications infrastructure serves our public safety needs,” Genachowski said. “The Public Safety Bureau’s thorough review concluded that the agency is ready to respond to emergencies, but there is more work to do to maximize the agency’s readiness. The public safety challenges we face are ongoing, dynamic, and growing. Today’s report outlines concrete steps the FCC can

and will take to better support public safety communications and protect our nation.”

Rear Admiral (ret.) Jamie Barnett, Chief of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, who led the review, said, “Our number one priority is making sure that the FCC has the capability to respond immediately to a disaster or emergency. As this report confirms, preparation will take training, resources, and constant vigilance. I look forward to working with Chairman Genachowski, the other FCC Commissioners and the entire agency, as well as our federal, state, and local partners, to implement additional initiatives that will further strengthen our emergency preparedness and response capabilities.”

This report was released as part of a joint press conference with officials from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Improving emergency communications across the country is a priority for DHS,” said Chris Essid, Director of the Office of Emergency Communications at DHS. “This report will help strengthen coordination efforts among emergency communications practitioners nationwide and guide our state, local, and tribal partners to invest in the right capabilities.”

Kevin Yeskey, M.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, HHS, said, “Communications is critical in supporting the public health and medical needs of a community in preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters and emergencies, including pandemics. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the FCC to further strengthen

our nation’s preparedness for public health and all emergencies.”

During emergencies, the FCC’s primary mission is to ensure that essential communications networks and services are operable, reliable, and quickly restored when necessary so that the American public can communicate and receive emergency information. Equally important is the FCC’s responsibility to ensure that America’s public safety officials and first responders have

the tools they need to protect lives, property, and strategic infrastructure.

The report concludes that the Commission is prepared to respond to communications emergencies and perform its mission. The report also identifies a number of areas in which the FCC can improve its emergency planning and response: education and training, outreach and collaboration, emergency operations and alerts, and network analysis.