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Buddy C.
Republican GA 1

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  • Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act

    by Representative Earl L. "Buddy" Carter

    Posted on 2015-02-02

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    CARTER of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 615) to amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to require the Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security to take administrative action to achieve and maintain interoperable communications capabilities among the components of the Department of Homeland Security, and for other purposes.



    The Clerk read the title of the bill.

    The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 615 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act'' or the ``DHS Interoperable Communications Act''.

    SEC. 2. INCLUSION OF INTEROPERABLE COMMUNICATIONS CAPABILITIES IN RESPONSIBILITIES OF UNDER SECRETARY FOR MANAGEMENT.

    Section 701 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 341) is amended-- (1) in paragraph (4) of subsection (a), by inserting before the period at the end the following: ``, including policies and directives to achieve and maintain interoperable communications among the components of the Department''; and (2) by adding at the end the following new subsection: ``(d) Interoperable Communications Defined.--In this section, the term `interoperable communications' means the ability of components of the Department to communicate with each other as necessary, utilizing information technology systems and radio communications systems to exchange voice, data, and video in real time, as necessary, for acts of terrorism, daily operations, planned events, and emergencies.''.

    SEC. 3. STRATEGY.

    (a) In General.--Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Under Secretary for Management of the Department of Homeland Security shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate a strategy, which shall be updated as necessary, for achieving and maintaining interoperable communications (as such term is defined in subsection (d) of section 701 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, as added by section 2 of this Act) among the components of the Department of Homeland Security, including for daily operations, planned events, and emergencies, with corresponding milestones, that includes, at a minimum the following: (1) An assessment of interoperability gaps in radio communications among the components of the Department, as of the date of the enactment of this Act.

    (2) Information on efforts and activities, including current and planned policies, directives, and training, of the Department since November 1, 2012, to achieve and maintain interoperable communications among [[Page H678]] the components of the Department, and planned efforts and activities of the Department to achieve and maintain such interoperable communications.

    (3) An assessment of obstacles and challenges to achieving and maintaining interoperable communications among the components of the Department.

    (4) Information on, and an assessment of, the adequacy of mechanisms available to the Under Secretary for Management to enforce and compel compliance with interoperable communications policies and directives of the Department.

    (5) Guidance provided to the components of the Department to implement interoperable communications policies and directives of the Department.

    (6) The total amount of funds expended by the Department since November 1, 2012, and projected future expenditures, to achieve interoperable communications, including on equipment, infrastructure, and maintenance.

    (7) Dates upon which Department-wide interoperability is projected to be achieved for voice, data, and video communications, respectively, and interim milestones that correspond to the achievement of each such mode of communication.

    (b) Supplementary Material.--Together with the strategy required under subsection (a), the Under Secretary for Management shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate information on any intra-agency effort or task force that has been delegated certain responsibilities by the Under Secretary relating to achieving and maintaining interoperable communications among the components of the Department by the dates referred to in paragraph (9) of subsection (a), and on who, within each such component, is responsible for implementing policies and directives issued by the Under Secretary to so achieve and maintain such interoperable communications.

    SEC. 4. REPORT.

    Not later than 220 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and biannually thereafter, the Under Secretary for Management shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate a report on the status of efforts, since the issuance of the strategy required under section 3, to implement such strategy, including the following: (1) Progress on each interim milestone referred to in paragraph (9) of subsection (a) toward achieving and maintaining interoperable communications among the components of the Department.

    (2) Information on any policies, directives, guidance, and training established by the Under Secretary.

    (3) An assessment of the level of compliance, adoption, and participation among the components of the Department with the policies, directives, guidance, and training established by the Under Secretary to achieve and maintain interoperable communications among such components.

    (4) Information on any additional resources or authorities needed by the Under Secretary.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Carter) and the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne) each will control 20 minutes.

    The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia.

    General Leave Mr. CARTER of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and include any extraneous material on the bill under consideration.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Georgia? There was no objection.

    Mr. CARTER of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 615, the Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act, introduced by the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Payne), the ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications.

    This bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to include, among the responsibilities of the Department of Homeland Security's Under Secretary for Management, achieving and maintaining interoperable communications among the Department's components.

    H.R. 615 addresses the findings and recommendations of a November 2012 DHS Office of Inspector General report, which stated that the Department does not have the appropriate oversight or governance structure to ensure communications interoperability among its components.

    The Department has been in the forefront on working with stakeholders to provide our Nation's first responders with the resources and tools needed to have effective interoperable communications. Now the Department needs to practice what they preach. It is vital that the Department's components are able to effectively communicate day to day and, most importantly, during emergencies.

    Mr. Speaker, I recently visited our southwest border and met with men and women from the Border Patrol, Customs and Border Protection, and the Coast Guard who are on the front lines of our efforts to secure the border. It is vital that they have the ability to communicate with one another and personnel from other DHS components as they work to achieve their vital missions.

    In order to ensure the Department is taking the necessary steps to achieve and maintain interoperable communications capabilities, H.R. 615 requires the Department's Under Secretary for Management to submit an interoperable communications strategy to the Committee on Homeland Security no later than 120 days after enactment.

    I urge all Members to join me in supporting this bill, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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