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DHS Needs to Improve Grant Guidance for Public Safety Communications Equipment

Executive Summary

DHS provides grant guidance over the acquisition of public safety communication equipment. However, the guidance the Office of Emergency Communications and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued is unclear, inconsistent, and does not prevent grantees from purchasing non-interoperable communications equipment. The Office of Emergency Communications, within the National Protection and Programs Directorate, develops the National Emergency Communications Plan and the SAFECOM Guidance; however, neither document dictates specific requirements when purchasing emergency communications equipment. FEMA’s grant guidance also does not specify interoperability requirements. Without clear and consistent DHS grant guidance requiring interoperability, grantees could spend Federal funds for non-interoperable communications equipment purchases. Without interoperable emergency communications equipment, the lives of first responders and those of whom they are trying to assist may be at risk.

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