WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Jeff Denham, chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee, today will introduce The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) Modernization Act of 2011 and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Reauthorization Act of 2011, two pieces of bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and accountability while streamlining emergency preparedness efforts.
In light of recent disasters across the country, it’s critical to understand the importance of being better prepared, Denham's office said in a news release.. The IPAWS Modernization Act of 2011 requires FEMA to modernize the nation’s 1950’s era warning systems to take advantage of modern technologies. These technologies will allow officials to reach a much higher percentage of the population and target alerts to those in danger.
This bill provides a framework for FEMA to implement up-to-date policies to effectively communicate about emergencies at no additional cost to the taxpayer, according to the release.
“Californians have experienced earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, and mudslides many times, and they understand the importance of emergency preparedness. Recent disasters in my district and across the country emphasize just how important it is to have a fast and effective warning system in place to alert people of impending disasters,” Denham said in the release.
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In a 2009 report entitled, Improved Planning and Coordination Necessary for Modernization and Integration of Public Alert and Warning System, GAO stated that, “FEMA began initiatives related to IPAWS in 2004, yet national-level alert capabilities have remained unchanged and new standards and technologies have not been adopted.” GAO recommends, among other things, that “FEMA develop strategic goals and processes for deployment of IPAWS and report periodically on program progress.”
“I commend Congressman Denham for introducing this important legislation. As a Representative of a State that has seen its fair share of natural disasters, I know first-hand the importance of having a timely and efficient response system. FEMA must have the capability to act quickly and with agility in order to deliver a prompt alert to government authorities and individuals in areas endangered by disasters,” Rep. Diaz-Balart (R-FL), co-sponsor of Denham’s bill, said in the news release.
Denham today also introduced the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2011, to reauthorize the funding at levels consistent with Fiscal Year 2012 levels passed by the House of Representatives earlier in the year. As part of this effort, Denham will hold a hearing in October to examine potential reforms to improve FEMA’s pre-disaster mitigation, disaster response, and recovery efforts in response to lessons learned from the recent hurricane season as well as the past six years of work since Hurricane Katrina.
Denham’s first hearing will be with FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to discuss reforms, and highlight what is working, what isn’t, and what Congress can do to assist FEMA and the nation to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. California Cal EMA Secretary Mike Dayton has also been invited to testify at the hearing.
“One of the best and most useful ways to recognize the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is to reauthorize FEMA, including its Urban Search and Rescue Teams, who do specialized, heroic work during the worst disasters, and to authorize FEMA to bring IPAWS, our antiquated nationwide public alert system into the 21st century,” Subcommittee Ranking Member Holmes-Norton (D-DC), said in the release.