Sneak Preview: DHS, FEMA Plan To Strengthen Public Safety Grant Guidance

September 25, 2015 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials plan to strengthen guidance language to ensure that public safety grant recipients purchase emergency communications equipment that is interoperable, following a recent DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Congress mandated that emergency responders have communications equipment that meets minimum interoperability standards, known as the Project 25 (P25) standards. DHS’ Office of Emergency Communications is responsible for developing and implementing national interoperable communications capabilities by providing guidance and training to assist emergency responders. OEC issues the SAFECOM Guidance on Emergency Communication Grants, which provides general and technical information, updated annually, to recipients of DHS public safety grants for emergency communications projects.

FEMA oversees eight programs that fund interoperable communications projects for emergency responders, including the Homeland Security Grant Program. FEMA informs applicants about the SAFECOM guidance in its funding opportunity announcements, and again in the standard terms and conditions when recipients are awarded grants.

In its audit, the DHS OIG found that the SAFECOM guidance encourages, but does not require, award recipients to purchase interoperable communications equipment. “SAFECOM guidance provides information to grantees on eligible activities and equipment for grantees to facilitate interoperability, but it does not contain requirements-based language,” the OIG said. “SAFECOM guidance makes recommendations that encourage the purchase of emergency communications equipment that meets interoperability standards.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site).


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