Is the Nation's Emergency Alert System Actually Ready for an Emergency?
For Immediate Release
Washington, D.C. – A Congressional hearing on Wednesday will examine whether the nation’s aging public alert and warning system, which dates back to the 1960’s, is capable of notifying Americans of emergencies in a timely and comprehensive fashion.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the agency responsible for managing public alert systems at the federal level, and FEMA initiated a modernization effort in 2004. However, five years later, little progress has been made.
Wednesday’s hearing was requested by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), the top Republican on the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. Earlier this year, Diaz-Balart introduced the bill H.R. 2591, the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Modernization Act of 2009.
In conjunction with tomorrow’s hearing, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) will release a report on the status of the alert system and the challenges in upgrading it.
The Subcommittee will receive testimony from GAO, FEMA, state and local officials, a public broadcast station, and representatives of individuals that are more difficult to reach by the existing alert system, such as those with impaired hearing.
The hearing of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee is scheduled for 2:00 PM (EST), Wednesday, September 30, 2009, at 2167 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515.