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                       August 4, 2004

     Thank you for this report and for the hard work that so 
many people in this Commission are doing on homeland 
security.  We have made some progress since 9/11¾and all 
progress is welcomed.  But so much remains to be done.  I 
hope that today's report is received more as a reminder of 
how much there is still to do than as a catalogue of 

            The 9/11Commission Report¾which ought to be 
required reading for each of us¾lays out in chilling detail 
a state of communications unreadiness that seriously 
inhibited the country's ability to respond on that terrible 
day.  Our challenge now is to make sure that we are ready 
next time by enabling our citizens¾particularly our first 
responders¾to communicate through a reliable, interoperable 
and redundant communications system. This is clearly the 
FCC's job.  This agency has the specific national security 
responsibility, stipulated in Title I of our statute, to 
ensure the safety of our people through the communications 
networks. It has been three years since 9/11.  In that time, 
the FCC has allocated spectrum to public safety; begun the 
process of bringing tools like RFIDs and ITS to the country; 
struggled with issues like CALEA and 800 MHz; and begun to 
implement E911. We have convened councils with industry.  
Advisory committees have had meetings and our government 
partners have begun to reorganize.  But it's all still very 
much a work in progress, and time is no friend when it comes 
to terrorism.  Reorganization tomorrow is not enough.  
Voluntary best practices, if implemented quickly, are fine, 
but untimely implementation may be no protection at all. So 
when voluntary efforts fail, mandatory implementation may 
best serve the public interest.  The 9/11 Commission Report 
minces no words about the lack today of public and private 
sector readiness for another attack.  Homeland security is 
not business-as-usual or government-as-usual.  Meetings, 
NOIs and draft best practices can only take us so far.  We 
must be focused on implementing integrated solutions.  And 
our actions need to be part of an overall strategic plan.            
Don't misunderstand me.  The FCC is working hard.  And we 
have the best people and expertise in the government on 
communications issues.  But the government still lacks a 
well-understood, aggressive, nation-wide plan to ensure that 
every public safety organization has access to a reliable 
system that they can use anywhere, to talk to any other 
first responder, in any emergency.  That just doesn't exist 
today, but it can and it should.  Such a plan would have 
specific deliverables and timetables. And it would provide 
absolute clarity on where the FCC fits in.  I think we fit 
in at the forefront in developing communications solutions.  
The country has waited, and we have waited, too long for 
others to get moving.  The GAO states that ``a fundamental 
barrier to successfully addressing interoperable 
communications problems for public safety has been the lack 
of effective collaborative, interdisciplinary, and 
intergovernmental planning.''  House Government Reform 
Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Shays has called on the 
FCC to take a more active role and says it's going to be 
costly if we don't.  There is a void out there to fill, and 
I believe this agency needs to fill it.

     No entity can resolve the public safety and 
interoperability problems alone¾not the private sector, not 
the federal government, not local public safety 
organizations which are generally starved for funding.  We 
need a collaborative approach, and I think we have to 
consider having the FCC step into the breach.  One approach 
might be for the Commission to create an office that focuses 
exclusively on helping local public safety organizations to 
share ideas, vet proposals, prepare plans and coordinate 
them with both government and industry.  If we lack the 
resources to do this, I am for going to Congress and asking 
for them.
          More generally, wherever we lack authority to make 
homeland security improvements, or wherever we see a way 
that Congress can make improvements through new legislation, 
we should step up to the plate with legislative 
recommendations.  Speaking of Congress, the Hill is now 
considering The 9/11 Commission Report.  This Report 
repeatedly catalogues communications breakdowns and examples 
of poorly protected critical infrastructures. It recommends 
legislation to increase the assignment of spectrum for 
public safety.  The Commission can help make sure it's done 
right by giving Congress a clear understanding of what 
spectrum deficiencies public safety confronts, exactly how 
much spectrum public safety requires, and what frequencies 
will serve it best.  The Report is strong on recommending 
efforts to protect both government and private 
communications facilities. The FCC is the expert on these 
issues.  But amazingly, in my reading, the Report never 
mentions the FCC.  So we have to get ourselves more front-
and-center on these issues. 
     Another initiative¾among many that we could take¾is to 
integrate our hospitals, health centers, and doctors much 
more closely into the emergency response communications 
system.  I have visited hospitals and emergency responders 
in big cities and small towns, and I have visited the CDC in 
Atlanta.  They all recognize the importance of fast and 
reliable communications, especially in the event of a 
biological attack.  But I don't see that many hospitals, 
especially in rural America, have a reliable two-way 
communications system that allows them to communicate with 
local and federal law enforcement and emergency personnel in 
a crisis.  When they do have dedicated systems, they are 
seldom redundant, and most are based on the public network, 
which is unreliable in emergencies, as 9/11 and the more 
recent East Coast black-out proved.  The FCC should address 
this problem and help find a solution, and while have done 
good work in updating the rural healthcare funding 
mechanism, it's going to take more than that to get this 
larger problem solved.   The events of recent 
days¾publication of The 9/11 Commission Report and the 
elevated terror alerts¾should bring home to all of us the 
urgency of moving quickly.  I know that Chairman Powell 
feels his homeland security responsibilities deeply, as do 
all my colleagues.  And I want him and them to know that I 
will do everything I can to support putting this Commission 
out-front where it should be when it comes to safeguarding 
our nation's communications security.