Fixing DHS’ Interoperable Communications Problem

This week, President Barack Obama signed into law my legislation to improve interoperable communications at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Interoperable communications — the ability of public safety officials to communicate and coordinate with one another via communications systems — is essential to emergency response and homeland security operations.

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the lack of interoperable communications was identified as one of the most significant challenges to an effective response. But almost 14 years after the attacks, the Department of Homeland Security still does not have in place the policies and procedures necessary for successful communication among its components.

The DHS Interoperable Communications Act (H.R. 615) will finally put DHS on the path to achieving Department-wide interoperable communications.

The law charges DHS’ Under Secretary for Management with maintaining interoperable communications among the components of the Department. Additionally, DHS is required to create and submit to Congress a strategy to achieve Department-wide interoperable communications that includes known interoperability challenges and gaps and projected milestones.

These measures will enhance the safety of DHS’ boots on the ground and the communities they serve.

I’m proud to have worked with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get the DHS Interoperable Communications Act signed into law. We have taken an important step to strengthen public safety efforts in New Jersey and throughout our nation. Just as I fought to get this vital legislation done, I will continue to fight to make sure emergency personnel are fully prepared to protect the safety of our communities.

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