76th Annual  Meeting
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
76th Annual Meeting
June 20-24, 2008



WHEREAS, the inability to directly communicate across multiple agencies and jurisdictions during emergencies is a longstanding issue that endangers both the lives of first responders and those they have pledged to protect; and

WHEREAS, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) prioritized interoperable communications capacity as a critical gap in emergency preparedness and response; and

WHEREAS, interoperable communications is a complex problem that will be resolved only with coordination at all levels of government and a substantial federal commitment of dedicated, yet flexible funding for localities; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Homeland Security required the 75 largest urban metropolitan areas to create a tactical interoperable communications plan to let police, fire and emergency medical departments talk to each other across agency lines during a crisis; and

WHEREAS, the annual National Governors Association survey of state homeland security directors again identified development of interoperable communications as their top priority; and

WHEREAS, local governments play the central role in developing, implementing, and financing systems to enable interoperable voice and data communications among first responders and other such agencies; and

WHEREAS, local and state governments own and manage most of the public safety system’s physical infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, cost estimates for achieving interoperable communications nationwide are up to $16 billion; and

WHEREAS, federal funding is essential to build, enhance, upgrade, or maintain interoperable emergency response voice, data, and video communication systems; support planning and management; and undertake training and exercises; and

WHEREAS, the “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007” [Public Law 110-53] established an Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program to help localities and states to carry out initiatives that improve local, regional, state, and national multi-jurisdictional, and multi-disciplinary communications, and authorized the appropriation of $400 million in each of fiscal years 2009 through 2012; and

WHEREAS, the President’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget proposal doe snot include any funding for the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program; and

WHEREAS, although other federal grant funds may be used for such efforts, Congress specifically established a separate program focused solely on interoperable communications in order to provide dedicated funding used in keeping with statewide plans and the National Emergency Communications Plan, in response to Government Accountability Office report findings (GAO-07-301),

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors calls upon Congress to provide FY 2009 appropriations for the Interoperable Emergency Communications Grant Program at the fully authorized funding level of $400 million; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to assure that allocation of interoperable communications resources are prioritized for projects that provide the maximum benefit to the most people in areas at greatest risk.