Washington Technology reports today on the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to create a new homeland security division:
The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously on March 17 to establish a new Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
The new unit will oversee issues such as disaster management, spectrum licensing for public safety agencies, 911 call centers, and alert and warning communications, the FCC said in a news release. Furthermore, the unit will address communications infrastructure protection and interoperability for public safety.
Congress must be notified of the changes before they become effective, and the commission must secure union approval for issues affecting its workforce.
The new bureau will handle functions that had been spread among seven different bureaus, including enhanced 911 requirements, priority emergency communications, continuity of government operations planning, network reliability, and resiliency and network security.
One aspect of this decision that this story doesn’t address is the FCC office’s relation to the Office of Cyber Security and Telecommunications at the Department of Homeland Security, which has responsibilities for protecting the nation’s telecom infrastructure. There’s a risk of mission overlap and confusion between the FCC and DHS, particularly on the infrastructure protection mission. Perhaps there’s a need for Congress to clarify their respective roles and responsibilities.