Payne, Jr.’s Interoperable Communications Bill Signed into Public Law
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, issued the following statement after President Obama today signed into Public Law the Congressman’s legislation to improve interoperable communications at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“This is a great victory for New Jersey and for our entire nation,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “The law sets up the Department of Homeland Security to finally achieve Department-wide interoperable communications, a necessity for ensuring the safety of DHS personnel and the communities they serve. I thank President Obama for swiftly signing the DHS Interoperable Communications Act into law. And, 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.”
The DHS Interoperable Communications Act (H.R. 615) charges DHS’ Under Secretary for Management with maintaining interoperable communications among the components of the Department. 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.
Payne, Jr. introduced the legislation in response to DHS’ ongoing lack of a robust and comprehensive interoperable communications strategy. In a May 2015 verification review of its 2012 audit, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) found that although the DHS has begun initiating corrective actions in response to the audit, the plans have not been finalized and there is no timetable to do so. Consequently, DHS is underprepared for emergencies and lacks proper communications capabilities for daily operations and planned events.
The DHS Interoperable Communications Act is the first bill of 2015 to pass out of the Committee on Homeland Security and be signed into law.