House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) and Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response Chairman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) applauded the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for taking steps to support a nationwide emergency alerts and warnings system for state and local partners. On May 14, the Homeland Security Subcommittee dealing with emergency communications, Chaired by Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX), raised concerns about the federal government’s lack of attention to developing effective alert and warning capabilities across cell networks that state and local emergency managers could harness.
The 2006 Warning Alert Response Network (WARN) Act required that a Federal agency verify emergency warnings drafted by state and local governments and provide authenticated alerts to commercial cell networks for delivery to targeted areas. The latest announcement by DHS implies that state and local officials will soon be able to submit alerts and warnings to their partners at FEMA who will propagate legitimate messages to commercial mobile service providers on their behalf.
“In times of crisis, people require information and expect the government to provide it. This Committee’s careful oversight of FEMA has produced another win for the American public. FEMA’s commitment to carry out this task begins to fill an unnecessary hole in our nation’s emergency response capability. I welcome FEMA’s acceptance of this important role and will monitor its development and implementation carefully. Our nation’s communities and their leaders deserve nothing less,” said Chairman Cuellar.