Goucher: Collins Close to Introducing FEMA IPAWS Bill

Bill would officially authorize FEMA IPAWS, create advisory committee
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Bill would officially authorize FEMA IPAWS, create advisory committee

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is set to introduce a bill to authorize the FEMA Integrated Public Alert and Warning System program by the end of the week.

That’s according to Maine State Emergency Communications Committee Chair Suzanne Goucher, who mentioned the bill during Tuesday’s FEMA IPAWS webinar about the national EAS test.

The program was created by the order of President George W. Bush but has not been authorized in statute, according to Goucher.

Among other things, the legislation also would ensure that FEMA uses new technology such as Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to deliver emergency alerts on smartphones and other devices.

It would also create a national advisory committee for EAS/IPAWS. “We haven’t had a national forum to gather interested parties for quite a long time. That’s what we’re trying to address,” Goucher told Radio World.

The measure also would direct that the EAS training that FEMA has been working on is to be incorporated into the National Incident Management System. That “would place EAS squarely in front of the state and local folks who have responsibility for managing emergencies,” according to Goucher.

Companion legislation is expected in the House.