Wednesday, March 26, 2014

HR 4289 Introduced – DHS Interoperable Communications

As I noted earlier this week Rep. Payne (D,NJ) introduced HR 4289, the DHS Interoperable Communications Act. The bill would require DHS to develop a strategy to implement changes in the department’s operations and equipment that would allow the various DHS components to communicate with each other during operations.

Interoperable Communications

The bill starts off with amending 6 USC 341 by adding a definition of ‘interoperable communications’ as paragraph (d). That definition describes the term as:“the ability of components of the Department to communicate with each other as necessary, utilizing information technology systems and radio communications systems to exchange voice, data, and video in real time, as necessary, for acts of terrorism, daily operations, planned events, and emergencies”.

Develop a Strategy

Section 3 of the legislation gives the Under Secretary for Management 120 days to present to congress a copy of a strategy to achieve interoperable communications within the Department. That strategy should provide:

• An assessment of interoperability gaps in radio communications among the components of the Department {§3(a)(1)};
• Information on efforts and activities, including current and planned policies, directives, and training, of the Department since November 1, 2012, to achieve and maintain interoperable communications {§3(a)(2)};
• Planned efforts and activities of the Department to achieve and maintain such interoperable communications {§3(a)(2)};
• An assessment of obstacles and challenges to achieving and maintaining interoperable communications{§3(a)(3)};
• Information on, and an assessment of, the adequacy of mechanisms available to the Under Secretary for Management to enforce and compel compliance with interoperable communications policies and directives {§3(a)(4)};
• Guidance provided to the components of the Department to implement interoperable communications policies and directives {§3(a)(5)};
• The total amount of funds expended by the Department since November 1, 2012, and projected future expenditures, to achieve interoperable communications, including on equipment, infrastructure, and maintenance {§3(a)(6)}; and
• Dates upon which Department-wide interoperability is projected to be achieved for voice, data, and video communications, respectively, and interim milestones that correspond to the achievement of each such mode of communication {§3(a)(7)}.
As expected there are also provisions for various reports to Congress about the implementation of this strategy.

Moving Forward

As I noted in Monday’s blog about the introduction of this bill this bill has bipartisan support as it was introduced by the Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security’s Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee and cosponsored by the chair of that Subcommittee Rep Brooks (R,IN). The first markup hearing will be tomorrow, so we can see that this is being pushed along quickly.

I expect that his bill will be adopted easily tomorrow and by the full Committee when that markup is scheduled. The only question past that will be if the bill actually makes it to the floor in either House. This is an election year and this doesn’t look like a high priority in anyone’s re-election campaign. So unless this gets the attention of the Republican leadership in the House and then Sen. Reid’s (D,LV) eye, this bill will probably remain on the desk when this Congress adjourns the final time in December.

No comments:

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */