House Passes Payne Bill to Improve Emergency Communications

Feb 11, 2015 Issues: National Security

Washington, D.C. – Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill authored and introduced by Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), H.R. 615, the DHS Interoperable Communications Act, by a vote of 379 to 0. The DHS Interoperable Communications Act would charge the Department of Homeland Security’s Under Secretary for Management with maintaining interoperable communications among the components of the department.

“Reliable interoperable communications are essential to the Department of Homeland Security’s mission and to ensuring first responders can easily and effectively communicate with one another, especially during emergencies,” said Congressman Payne, Jr. “This bill is an important step toward achieving DHS-wide interoperability and improving the safety of our first responders and our communities. I am pleased to see this critical legislation move forward in a bipartisan manner, and I urge the Senate to pass this bill as soon as possible.”

According to a November 2012 Inspector General Report, DHS “personnel do not have reliable interoperable communications for daily operations, planned events, and emergencies.” H.R. 615 addresses this communications need by directing the department’s Under Secretary for Management to issue policies and directives related to interoperability, develop a strategy to achieve DHS-wide interoperability, and report to Congress biannually on the Department’s progress.

Click here to learn more about the bill.